Wellesley Fudge Cake with Cocoa Frosting

Before I get to the cake, let’s talk a bit about women and college admissions.

Women’s exclusion from a great many colleges and universities was part of the social order for most of our history and went unquestioned by the majority of men in the United States. You may be surprised to learn that women weren’t admitted to Harvard until 1975, and even then, men outnumbered women 4 to 1. It wasn’t until Harvard began “sex-blind admissions” in 1977 that women had a fair shot at being accepted.

Don’t worry, we’re getting closer to talking about the cake.

Historically, the seven sisters colleges, including Wellesley, provided college education to women because they weren’t allowed equal access otherwise. As private liberal arts college located outside of Boston in the suburban town of Wellesley, Massachusetts, it’s graduates include many notable women, including former Secretary of States Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton.



What could this possibly have to do with cake, you ask? Well, in 1870, one of the founders of Wellesley College, who was incidentally male, did not want the young women eating sweets and effectively banned them from campus citing, “Pies, lies, and doughnuts should never have a place in Wellesley College.”

Come on, no sugar on campus? The young women at Wellesley College weren’t having it. They started making chocolate cake in secret — Wellesley Fudge Cake was born. Once word got out how easy it was, the recipe started turning up at local cafes.



The original recipe was extremely basic involving hot water and ingredients that could be easily mixed in a dorm room. As time, went on, the recipe got updated. The cake you see here was made using this recipe from Sifting Focus.

I have to say, it’s an excellent chocolate cake. It’s deep, rich and fudgy. It’s so fudgy, in fact, that I decided to lighten it up a bit using this recipe for frostingI simply added cocoa powder by the tablespoon to the recipe until I achieved the desired color and flavor. It’s very easy to make. I guess you could say the Wellesley Fudge cake recipe has been altered again.

By the way, there is no moral to this story – except maybe don’t take your rights for granted. It’s just an interesting story for people who like chocolate cake. And, who doesn’t like chocolate cake?


Please note – the scenic images here are not from Wellesley College but from a property just next door to the school called Elm Bank. It’s a lovely property owned by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and it’s open to the public so check it out. It’s a nice place to go for a walk or stroll through the gardens. They also hold weddings and events so I’ve included their promotional video for fun.



Bon appetit!


Fresh New England

Get inspired to love New England.

  1. Life without some sugar would be unbearable. Kudos to the women of Wellesley who rebelled and made cake anyway! It looks so delicious! Lovely photos as always, El!

  2. I am a chocolate cake finatic. Some peop;e are that way over chocolate chip cookies. For me, it is chocolate cake – though I rarely write about it. That would mean actually baking in daylight! Cannot wait to try this recipe.
    Love the story and the photographs!
    YUM to both!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Perfect Quotes
  • Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Michael Pollan
Skip to content