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What ever happened to Ebinger's Bakery?


Blackout Cake from the America's Test Kitchen recipe book, available from Amazon.com -- see the link below.
Ebinger Baking Company, with a chain of stores across the boro, was founded in Flatbush in 1898 by George and Catherine Ebinger. Famous for their cakes and pies, and especially their Blackout Cake, they closed in bankruptcy on August 26, 1972, "going the way of the Navy Yard, the Dodgers, and Luna Park", said the New York Times.

There have been attempts to revive the bakery brand under that name, but none, so far, have been successful.

Named for wartime blackouts, their famous and beloved chocolate-pudding-filled Blackout Cake was a chocolate layer cake filled and frosted with dark fudge and dusted with chocolate cake crumbs that was so popular that other bakeries in the borough, like SeaLane, produced inferior knock-offs.

Other Ebinger favorites were a butter cream cake decorated with three small pistachio nuts in the center of the top and Chocolate hard-icing cake with a hard, bittersweet chocolate icing. All came in a familiar pale green box, perfectly tied with red-and-white striped string by one of the "Ebinger Girls."

Ebinger's original recipes were never released, but facsimile recipes pop up once in a while. Here is a recipe for Blackout Cake from Cooks Country TV that gets very good reviews, if you'd like to try making it yourself (registration is required to see the recipe, but it's free). This is the same as the version published in the Best of America's Test Kitchen 2008 cookbook, which gets high marks for authenticity from those who've tried it. You can also order a version of the blackout cake from Zabars

Ebinger's was also, unfortunately, known for discriminatory hiring practices that excluded people of color and Jews from employment. In the spring and summer of 1962, the Brooklyn Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) led a series of protests picketing the company's retail locations. On August 4, 1962, a large protest picketed all 39 of Ebinger's retail stores. On Saturday, August 18th, 1962, protesters sat down in front of Ebinger's delivery trucks as they were about to leave the bakery to make deliveries, effectively shutting the business down until seven of the protesters were arrested. The protests eventually led to modest reforms of the company's hiring practices. Read more about Ebinger's protests here, from the book Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn (Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century)

In 1979, baker Lou Guerra revived the Ebinger's name (which was in the public domain) and produced a line of Ebinger products. Selling cakes from a new Ebinger's store at Fort Hamilton Parkway and 63d Street starting in June, 1982, his cakes attracted the attention of the New York Times which proclaimed the "authenticity is not in doubt". He also trademarked the name, which was then sold to Entenmann's in 1994.

Itself a Brooklyn institution, Entenmann's Bakery was founded by William Entenmann who came to Brooklyn from Germany in 1898 and opened a bakery on Rogers Avenue. Today, the Entenmann's brand is on over 100 different kinds of baked goods. Entenmann's is now owned by Bimbo Bakeries USA, the American subsidiary of a gigantic Mexican/Multi-national food production corporation, which also owns brands such as Thomas' (english muffins), Arnold (bread) and Boboli (pizza crusts).

And speaking of sweet stuff...did you know that Sweet-N-Low sweetener was invented in Brooklyn?

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