“Clifton’s” Cake

Rorschach Test: What Do You See?
Rorschach Test: What Do You See?

If you grew up in Southern California, you may remember the iconic restaurant “Clifton’s Cafeteria”, http://www.cliftonscafeteria.com/home.html The original is still around and has been refurbished, but it’s not as close as it used to be. This once chain restaurant had locations around Los Angeles County but as palette’s changed so did the need for a cafeteria style restaurant. Ironically, the ‘buffet’ style restaurant moved in along with our now beloved drive-thru’s.

This cake is an homage to a delicious moment in history that even my Aunt used to make for special occasions. It is not only delicious but ultimately simple. It’s comprised of a classic mayonnaise cake topped with sliced bananas and fresh whipped cream. For certain diets (like I have in my family), I’ve included some easy swaps. Hope you enjoy this piece of my childhood!


Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees


2 C. All Purpose Flour
2/3 C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
3 eggs (at room temperature) (or egg whites)
1 2/3 C. Granulated Sugar (I use only brown sugar)
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 C. Mayonnaise
1 1/3 C. Water (or cold brewed coffee)
1 tsp. instant coffee (If brewed coffee is not available.)
6 large ripe bananas


For the Whipped Topping

1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. powdered sugar


1 large tub non-dairy whipped topping


Preheat oven to 350°. Using non-stick baking spray with flour, prepare two 9-inch round cake pans and set aside. In medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder; set aside.
In large bowl, combine the sugar (Or in my case brown sugar), vanilla, mayonnaise and water. (Please see Tip #3 below.)

Tip #1: I’ve also made this recipe with canola oil based and olive oil based mayonnaise with no noticeable differences.

Tip #2: This recipe also works great with coconut oil instead of the mayonnaise.

Tip #3: Add 1 cup of cold brewed coffee as part of your water. If you don’t have brewed coffee available you can also use 1 tsp. instant coffee crystals or espresso powder.

Using an electric mixer, beat in mayonnaise at low speed until blended. Alternately beat in flour mixture in thirds until the flour is almost completely gone. Add the eggs one at a time, blending thoroughly with the addition of each egg. Finally, beat the entire mix on high for 2 minutes to air rate your batter.

Tip #4: By adding your room temperature eggs as the final step, you have the opportunity to really create a good rise in your cake while it bakes.

Tip #5: You can also swap strictly egg whites if animal fat is also an issue in your family.

Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. On wire racks, cool 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely.

Place your bottom cake layer on a cake plate and use sliced bananas to adorn the top. Add a layer of cream and repeat the process on top. This also makes a wonderful sheet cake if a layer cake seems too small. Frost the top and sides with cream and chill until ready to serve.

Tip #6: For the whipped cream you have two options. You can use real whipping cream which is traditionally used for this cake, however I find that in the heat of the summer you MUST have refrigerator space AND you must use, Dr. Oetker’s ‘Whip-It’: http://www.oetker.us/us-en/our-products/baking-products/baking-aids/product-assortment/whip-it.html If you don’t have either, your cream will melt and look very unappetizing. This is available online and at most import stores with a gourmet food section.

Tip #7: In the hotter weather, I prefer to use Cool Whip: http://coolwhip.kraftbrands.com/coolwhip.aspx#/home
Because it’s dairy free, it’s more stable, but most importantly it’s good for lactose intolerant family and friends.

Makes 8 servings.


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