Sugar and Spice

I was flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks this morning in search of a dessert to take to a dinner party on Friday night.  This particular cookbook is priceless to me as I have so many notes and additional recipes in it that I would be lost if something were to happen to it.  Anyway because the cookbook was published by our Church a few years ago, it also contains many family favorite recipes.  So in glancing through the dessert section, I happened to stumble upon one of my Grandmother’s Spice Cake recipes.

As I am half a world away from the place that I truly call home, every once in a while something will strike me as ‘home’.  Today it was this recipe.  As soon as I saw it, I knew that I had to bake my Grandmother’s spice cake.  The funny thing is, is that I cannot even remember having my Grandmother’s spice cake that she made.  The simple fact that it was her recipe made me have to have it.

So as I sit here writing and eating a delicious spice cake cupcake, let you me tell you about the remarkable women that was my Grandmother.  If there was ever a human being that could encompass the essence of the word home it was my Grandmother.  No matter what was going on in my life and from a very young age my Grandmother always provided me with the warm cozy feeling of being at home.  She was always warm and welcoming and she would give you whatever she had.  My grandparents never had much money, but they certainly made up for it in love – in fact I think my grandmother perfected that notion.  I believe in her kindness she was rare.  I can only aspire to be the kind generous person she was day in and day out of her everyday life.  She always knew just how to make anyone feel as if they were important, special and oh so loved.

My birthday is at the tale end of May.  Growing up with a teacher for a mother and a welder for a father, I often spent my birthday at my grandparents house as both of my parents would be working and I would already be out of school.  Upon arrival, my Grandmother would make me lie down on the sofa and shut my eyes, and before I knew it I would be awoken to scrambled eggs and crispy bacon (my favorite).  Then throughout the day my Grandmother would make me an English tea ring – which would turn out to be one of the best birthday gifts I received each year.  When I was younger my Grandmother would make it while I napped so it would be a surprise.  As I grew up, I started to catch on to her and I soon started to request, nay beg, to let me help her make my tea ring.

I can still remember watching my Grandmother take ingredients and without measuring, mix them all together.  It was if by magic they would create an incredibly tasty birthday treat.  I loved helping kneed the dough, then Grandma letting me use her rolling pin (which is now one of my treasured possessions), would help me roll out the dough so it was the perfect thickness, then spreading the butter on and sprinkling it with cinnamon and sugar.  We would carefully roll up the dough and shape it into a ring.  Usually when Grandma made a tea ring, it was  frosted with white icing and adorned with red Maraschino Cherries, however my favorite colors are purple and green – so for my birthday I always received a frosted purple tea ring with green Maraschino Cherries.  There are so many days in my life that I wish I could be back by her side, still trying to master baking skills, sharing smiles and nods of encouragement.

Back to today…

There was something about seeing a recipe from my Grandmother that brought her here to me today.  Even though she passed away years ago, today it was as if she were right beside me measuring ingredients and mixing away.  It is comforting to know that by drawing upon old memories and recreating certain smells – it’s almost like I can still feel her love.  No matter where I am in the world, I am able to find a way to feel home.

So for your pleasure, I thought I would share:

Grandma’s Spice Cake

1/2 C. Crisco or shortening (I use butter)

1/2 C. Sugar

1 egg, beaten

1/2 C. light molasses (I used dark because that is what I brought from the States)

1/2 C. Strong hot coffee

1 1/2 C. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon (I used 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice)

Thoroughly cream shortening and sugar.  Add egg and molasses, mix well.  Add coffee and mix.  Add sifted dry ingredients; beat until smooth.  Pour into waxed paper lined 9×13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.  While warm, frost with confectioner’s frosting (I made my frosting with left over coffee from the recipe).




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