Today is my cousin’s birthday (Happy B-day Sue!) and via Facebook, my other cousin (Marcia) wished her sister a happy birthday. She then added that if they were together, instead of across the country from one another, she would have made Sue her new favorite cake “Cream Soda Cake with Brown Butter Frosting.” Now am I alone in thinking that, that cake sounds incredible? I commented on the post that I would love to have that recipe.
It then started me wondering, when (if ever) do we have enough cake recipes in our arsenal? I think I have been collecting and perfecting cake recipes for at least thirty-five years now. It all started with my Aunt Lucy’s famous pound cake. It’s really more of heavy/dense yellow cake, baked in a ten inch tube pan, than a traditional pound cake. Aunt Lucy became famous among our family for the cake because it was a given that anytime she visited, she would bring the pound cake to our house. It was also a given that if you visited her, she would miraculously have one on hand.
Everyone adored the simple cake. It was not too sweet and was ideal with a cup of coffee. The thing was, in spite of the fact that everyone liked the cake so much, no one ever asked her for the recipe.
Well once I grew up and went off on my own, I would write letters every so often to my relatives. It was how we kept in touch before the years of email and Facebook. In one of my letters to Aunt Lucy, I asked her for the cake recipe. She was both flattered and delighted to share her old recipe with me. After a while, I too became famous for the cake, which I aptly dubbed, “Aunt Lucy Cake,” and my friends could not seem to get enough of it.
I remember one Thanksgiving Day in particular about twenty years ago. I was reading from a list of items that I would be serving at our Thanksgiving celebration. After reading the nine different desserts and cakes I planned to prepare, my friends frowned and asked why I was not planning on an Aunt Lucy Cake? “Because,” I replied, “I make that cake so often. I am already making nine other cakes, pies and desserts.” Their answer to me was, “What kind of a holiday would it be without an Aunt Lucy cake?”
It was then that I realized that my friends counted on that cake when we got together just as my family had counted on Aunt Lucy bringing it to us. I was almost “obligated” to bake the pound cake. To this very day, it is the annual Christmas gift at my doctor’s office, my bank, my post office and for a few select friends. It is also my “welcome wagon” gift when new neighbors move into town.
Aunt Lucy is no longer with us, but I can’t help but think of her each and every time I bake the pound cake. I remember how happy she was when I told her how much my friends appreciated her delectable cake and how she would giggle when I told her that the confection was named after her; making her famous amongst dozens and dozens of people in several different states that she had never even met.
I guess we all have our favorite cakes that we hope will be a part of our birthday celebration each year. I know my dad loves what he calls strawberry shortcake, which in reality is really four layers of yellow cake, filled with fresh strawberries and just enough preserves to hold them together, that is then frosted with clouds of my whipped-cream frosting.
My sister Janice’s favorite is also yellow cake, but she prefers it with chocolate custard filling and a deep chocolate fudge frosting.
For my older sister Maureen, it is my moist chocolate cake with an ever-so-thin filling of ganache, covered with oodles of delicate whipped-cream frosting. We call it the Devil Dog cake because its taste reminds us of the Drake’s cake of the same name from our childhood.
For me, I guess it will always be “Aunt Lucy Cake.” It not only touches my taste buds, but it also touches my heart.
Until next time,