After posting to "What is SF missing" thread and recalling some old time goodies, I thought about the favorite cake from my youth. It's something I don't see much in NY anymore and have never seen in San Francisco.
In fact, I realized that I seldom eat cake anymore (probably a good thing). When I moved here, I noticed that bakeries sell different items and most have a very different small (I once walked into a place on Van Ness that had the smell I grew up with and it brought the memory back). When I first moved to the South Bay, I was surprised by the highly sweet and very dense cakes.
I now realize that there are plenty of high quality bakeries here serving all kinds of excellent treats (and great bread).
The cake that I'm looking for was sold at Ashkenazi Jewish bakeries. I don't know if it was unique to those bakeries, but certainly didn't exist at Italian bakeries (those where the two most common types in the neighborhoods).
The cake I miss is a three layer cake that is very similar to the 7-Layer Cake. If I recall correctly, it was a yellow, buttery cake (fairly light and dry). Between layers was a mocha buttercream. Outside of cake was a hardened chocolate shell. There must be a name of the cake batter that I can't recall just now (is it a sponge cake?)
I've tasted bad versions of the cake, but when it's good, it's really nice.