07 March 2011

Family recipe Monday: cakes and angels

Women's History Month challenge for March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

Perfectly timed to coincide with the regular Family Recipe Monday here, isn't it?

I have been working on a lot on family genealogy lately (bad cold + great cold meds = phenomenal ability to focus on hundreds of fine-print census records). What is most apparent from the rowdy family history is that Southern cooking may actually be encoded in our genes. Both sides moved south and west as fast as they could, it seems, but not north and not back east. They liked Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas a lot, then started taking over Oklahoma and Texas. In the Depression, they headed out for California in large numbers. Some of them stopped for a bit in New Mexico. But few of them ventured north of Oklahoma, and none ever seemed to wander back North. (Being contrary, I did, but then I retraced the wagon routes back west to the Dakotas.)

The older girls in our line were great cooks, but not great believers in writing down things they knew how to do in their sleep. I'm running the Yellow Angel Food Cake recipe first in honor of Gran Brooks (Mary Marcella Walker, for those of you keeping up with this month's saga), who was a phenomenal cook. She moved back to Oklahoma and ran a boarding house when she was widowed. Her claim to fame as a young cook was being able to make a perfect angel food cake on  a wood-fired stove. I heard that when I was little, but it did not register until I was grown, and now I'm just stunned.

Yellow angel food cake

5 eggs
½ cup cold water
1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups sugar, sifted 4 times
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp orange extract
¾ tsp cream of tartar

Separate eggs, beat yolks until foamy, add water and beat until lemon colored. Sift flour to which baking powder has been added. Sift sugar 4 times and add to egg yolks, beating vigorously. Add flour a little at a time, beating well. Flavor, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until stiff. Fold carefully into yellow mixture. Pour into ungreased pan. Bake one hour, increasing heat after the first 15 minutes.

Don't skimp on the sifting, and be sure to use the right pan. If you have and strawberries left over from the next recipe, they'd be good served with the angel food cake.

The next recipe was a very popular one for family birthday cakes. It's definitely a time-saver from the 1950s, with the boxed mix in use. It was still wonderful. The older girls would have been appalled at the idea of buying a birthday cake (or any baked goods). Looking back on it, I think that they were right.

Strawberry cake

1 pkg. white cake mix
1 box strawberry Jell-O
1 cup Wesson oil
½ cup water
3 T flour
4 eggs
½ box frozen strawberries

Dump everything except berries into bowl and mix. Fold in strawberries last. Bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350* F. Makes 3 layers.

1 box powdered sugar
1 stick margarine
Remaining strawberries

--Lois Holmes, Vada Brooks Johnson

Happy Monday. Indulge a bit.

1 comment:

Paula said...

I think I'll be having dessert for dinner tonight!! Thanks for the yummy recipes!