Friday, July 31, 2009


I know, I know...I already published this recipe almost three years ago. I was just at my family reunion this past weekend, though, and I updated the recipe based on the awesome family recipe book that my cousin Candy put together for us. This recipe is listed as one of my cousin Laura Haberl's favorites (thanks for including it, Laura!). Since I didn't get to the gobs that one of my amazing relatives brought to the family reunion before my other hungry relatives did (collective sigh of pity for me..."awww"), I couldn't resist making them this week. So, that means I also have photos of the gobs now to show how they're supposed to look. Enjoy!

Gobs are a tradition in western Pennsylvania. My mom and I were recently discussing the cultural origins of the gob, and neither of us could think of the appropriate country from which these divine desserts come. This discussion lead me, of course, to my favorite place to search for answers...Google.

Apparently the closest "city" to my hometown, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, currently has its own website to attract tourists (who knew? If you're interested, check out According to Susan Kalcik, a folklorist and archivist with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission (again, who knew?), the gob's origin can be traced to medieval Germany. Gobs were most likely brought to America by various German groups such as the Amish or the German Brethren. After arriving in the states, they probably became popular in western PA due to their ability to travel well in lunch bags into coal mines or steel mills. Ms. Kalcik believes that gobs received their name from the term coalminers used for lumps of coal refuse ("gob piles").

No matter what their origin, gobs are a special treat for those visiting areas of Pennsylvania heavily settled by early Germans. I've recently begun using dark cocoa in many of my recipes, and I enjoyed this recipe with half dark and half regular cocoa.

Chocolate Cake Ingredients/Directions:
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
4 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. of boiling water
1 c. sour milk (1 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar to sour it)
3 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla

Cream together the sugar, shortening, and eggs. Add the flour, baking powder, and cocoa to the creamed mixture and blend well, about 1 minute. Add the boiling water and the baking soda to the sour milk, and add to previous mixture while beating constantly until well mixed. Drop by tablespoon on ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees for about 6 minutes. Cool before icing.

Gob Icing Ingredients/Directions:
8 1/2 T. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. margarine
3/4 c. shortening
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
2 cups powdered sugar

Cook flour and milk together over low heat. Stir continuously until thick like paste (should be the same consistency as toothpaste or mashed potatoes...thick!). Remove from heat and cool. Cream together the margarine, shortening, vanilla, and salt with flour mixture. Beat in the powdered sugar and continue beating until smooth and fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes).

Put icing between gob cakes and wrap with waxed paper or plastic wrap (or both, if you run out of waxed paper like I did).