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Bite In The Attic | Cakes Are Fun!

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Since we here at LITA are all a little food-obsessed, we’ve hatched a plan to join our love of food and our love of music.

Introducing… Bite In The Attic: A food blog within a music blog.

We’ve started asking our eclectic catalog of musicians for their favorite recipes. The plan is then to recreate them, gobble them up, and post about it here! For our first installment we turned to Sandy Dedrick of The Free Design for some recipe inspiration.

The Free Design (Sandy on the left)


For those unfamiliar, The Free Design were a late 60s/early 70s family soft-pop-psych group that released seven brilliant albums and influenced countless musicians, including Beck, Belle & Sebastian, Cornelius, and Stereolab. They were one of our earliest and most beloved reissue projects. Sandy was a singer/songwriter in the group, and when we asked her for a recipe she said, “I definitely have a favorite recipe - but haven’t made it in years: chocolate mayonnaise cake.”  She went on to tell a little Free Design story attached to the cake: 

“We were singing on Arthur Godfrey’s radio show for two weeks. Arthur was pitching Sara Lee Chocolate Cake in an ad and asked if anyone in the studio could make a better one. I said I could so he asked me to bring one in the next day, which I did. I don’t think he expected this, but he sent someone out to pick up a Sara Lee cake and then passed both cakes around the band and they voted my cake the best! Arthur, always quick on the draw said to the radio audience – ‘Well folks, if you can’t get Sandy’s cake, get Sara Lee’s!’”


Without further ado, Sandy’s better-than-Sara Lee chocolate mayonnaise cake…


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (we used Hershey’s unsweetened)
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/3 cups water


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  3. Combine dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat together eggs, sugar, and vanilla for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  5. Beat in the mayonnaise at low speed until blended.
  6. Alternately beat in the dry ingredients and the water, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  7. Pour into cake pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  8. Voila – let it cool, ice it (we made a simple chocolate buttercream with the Hershey’s cocoa poweder) and eat it! 


We also made some psychedelic decorations out of marzipan dyed with food coloring gel.


This cake was really straight forward and easy to make and it turned out delicious! The crumb was moist and slightly fudgey. By strange coincidence,  chocolate mayonnaise cake already happens to be the birthday cake of choice in the household of LITA-founder Matt Sullivan, but it was new to the rest of us. The Sullivan household also highly recommends making cake shakes with the leftover cake. Perhaps that will be a later installment of Bite In The Attic.


After baking this beauty were left wondering how the cake would differ if we’d used melted down bar chocolate as opposed to powdered, so we’re hoping to make it that way too and do a little comparison. While the cake’s texture was incredible, we thought the flavor could’ve been a little bit richer. Maybe next time we’ll add a little coffee or espresso to the cake batter as well and report back.


Stay tuned for the next installment of Bite In The Attic — we’re working on a slow roasted garlic/rosemary chicken thighs recipe from Ishmael Butler of Digable Planets and Michael Chapman‘s favorite moussaka!


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