a teenager, it stuck in my head that I was going to college in Boston. I’m not exactly sure why: Before applying to college, I visited Boston exactly once during my freshman year in high school for a trip to Model United Nations (I’m a nerd, I know). Although I spent most of my time there in a congested lecture hall at Harvard, I guess the city must have left enough impression on me to want to spend the next four years there.
So I applied to a bunch of colleges in town, and although I got into a handful, none of them were really my first choice. One such college was Wellesley College, a liberal arts college for women. Although Wellesley is a wonderful school (it’s where some of my feminist heroines like Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright graduated), I wasn’t sure I’d be ready to spend the next four years at an estrogen festival (I know, I know, I’m sure some college graduates of angry women will send me emails about how this isn’t the case at all, but keep in mind that this was before Tinder and I was 17 when I was making these decisions.)
And, if I’m completely honest, the gender issue was actually a secondary concern. I was most alarmed by a campus legend who told the story of Wellesley’s (male) founder, Henry Durant, declaring that “cakes, lies, and donuts should never have a place at Wellesley College.” Aside from the obvious angry/exhausted feminist viewpoint (“Why does a guy tell a group of women not to eat?”), I worried that the school cafeteria might secretly put all of its students on a secret, insidious diet without our consent (although obviously this is not the case, what can I say, I was a weird/neurotic 17-year-old girl, in case I can’t tell anymore because of Model United Nations involvement).
campus legend apparently has some basis, in fact, because Wellesley’s women apparently challenged this kind of Henry Durant and spent some time baking underground in their dormitories to develop this Wellesley fudge cake. Wellesley Fudge Cake is a chocolate buttermilk defined by its square, iced shape of chocolate fudge. It’s absolutely delicious.
original recipe was apparently quite laborious, the crazy and talented America’s Test Kitchen family updated the recipe in 2010 in an edition of Cook’s Country and modernized the cake to include more chocolate flavor and a silkier frosting. They did such a good job that Wellesley College uses a variation of their recipe in their own kitchens!
This recipe is included in America’s Test Kitchen’s new book, The Perfect Cake, a cookbook dedicated to all things cake. The book features a plethora of cake recipes, ranging from today’s modern favorites (they have a gluten-free funfetti cake, everyone!) to classics like this one from Wellesley. Enjoy!
Many thanks to America’s Test Kitchen for sending me a copy of The Perfect Cake!
Some notes from the baker: