Thursday, April 30, 2009
The Preacher’s Corner
Grandmother Winter’s special cake
A reader of this column all the way from California asked if I had the recipe for my grandmother’s white coconut cake which I wrote about in my column last time, and of course, I don’t.
My grandmother just cooked! A pinch of this, a dash of that. What few old recipes I have just say things like, “Bake in the oven until done.” No temperatures or times are specified. I do recall that she would “test” the doneness of cakes and soufflés by inserting the clean end of a broom straw.
Now, my other grandmother, Grandmother Winter, was also a wonderful cook. She was the sort of cook who prided herself in putting out more items on a holiday table than one could possibly sample. Three meats, a zillion vegetables, two or three kinds of dessert.
Grandmother Winter always had her white coconut cake, too. But she made a yellow cake with a walnut cream icing that was especially delicious, and I always looked forward to that because it was something my other grandmother did not make. Those cakes, by the way, appeared at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, and because the weather was cool, they were stored on the screened-in back porch of Grandmother Winter’s home on Linden in Memphis, Tenn., and unlike my Cleveland grandmother, with whom we lived, my Memphis grandmother would let me go out to the back porch and help myself to an additional slice or two on those lazy afternoons following big holiday dinners.
Daddy’s sister, my Aunt Mayrene, helped prepare those dinners and by watching, learned the recipe for Grandmother Winter’s special cake. I do have the recipe for the icing, which I will give because nobody else I know has ever served me a yellow cake with an icing exactly like this. So here goes—and I do acknowledge that I am stepping rather far outside the usual subject matter of this column:
2 cups sugar
Makes three-layer cake.
2 cups milk
As you can see, no directions for cooking temperatures or times come with this old recipe. But perhaps this will be of interest to a cook who knows how to fill in the gaps.
No wonder after such a meal at his mother’s table my father would stretch out on the long sofa across from the fireplace and take a long winter’s nap!
There is a lot of talk about “family values” in today’s world.
These are the family values I remember. I remember mine because they were “lived.”
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