Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Channeling my Great-Grandmother

We all have fond memories of foods from our childhoods. But, over the years when I have tried to re-create family recipes for my dad he has said they were good, but were missing the mark on the way his mother or grandmother made them.

Dad has often talked of a cake that his maternal grandmother made. When we were in Indiana recently I asked my Aunt Becky if she had the recipe for Cold Water Cake. She did and graciously sent it to me.

Dad's birthday was last week so I decided to make the cake to see if I could get it to taste "just like grandmother made it."

The cake has a rich, spicy flavor and it has molasses in it which just  happens to be one of my favorite ingredients.  The secret of the cake, though, is in the ice cold water used. I measured, mixed, and chopped the ingredients with aplomb all the while wishing I had a fancy apron like the women of the 50's wore when cooking so I could really look the part.

The taste of the batter - yes, I know you're not supposed to eat raw cake batter since it has eggs in it, even refused to let my 5 year old nephew taste it - tantalized my taste buds. The smell while the cake was baking was absolutely heavenly. Oh my how I salivated at the thought of what the cake would taste like!

When the cake was done and cooled it was time for the frosting. The recipe for the cake didn't include a frosting and honestly the cake could be served without frosting or a light glaze. But, Dad remembers the cake with a deep, dark chocolate frosting that Grandmother made with coffee. It basically was powdered sugar and cocoa mixed until the chocolate was slightly sweet. Then I mixed it with a strong coffee just until the mixture is spreadable. Surprisingly enough the coffee darkened the frosting, but didn't add a coffee flavor to it.

When I served the cake Dad said the frosting was spot on. The cake was very close although he remembers it being spicier and a darker color. I figured the next time I make the cake I would double up on the nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. However, Dad mentioned it was usually served cold so we put the remaining cake in the fridge.

When he had a piece for breakfast the next day he declared it tasted just like Grandmother had made it! Ah, sweet success. The cake was so good that my sister devoured a piece despite having raisins in it. She hates eating raisins that have been cooked!

What fun I had stepping into the past and enjoying some old fashioned baking! And, yes, if you have read recent posts you know that I have been stepping into the past quite a bit recently. I can't help it, really, since my trip to Indiana earlier this month I have been enjoying my family history. I will get to the end of the historical posts soon and move on to something else, I promise.

Don't forget to come back on Friday for moonshine!!

PS, the sprinkles were courtesy of my nephew who feels that no cake is complete without them!

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