That same summer, my grandma got sick with cancer. The worse I felt about her illness (the surgeries, the hospital rooms, her hair falling out), the more I baked and baked and baked. It felt so good to take also those random ingredients that meant nothing by themselves, and measure and mix them into something that came out amazing. While my mom may have found this new-found hobby somewhat extreme, my grandma loved it. She began sharing every recipe she knew and I absorbed it with eagerness and love.
The one recipe I loved to make more than anything was her supper cake. It was a recipe they made a lot during the Depression because it took very few ingredients and only needed 20 minutes to bake, almost the exact time it took a farm family to finish a meal. You sprinkle the cake with cinnamon and sugar and then eat it warm with gusto. It only took me two tries (with my grandma watching, of course) to make it perfectly. After that, I was in total charge of supper cake.
I still make supper cake for my boys. When I pull out my grandma's recipe, the memories of us in her kitchen are so strong, I can almost feel her standing there as I mix it. It is a memory of joy, but also sadness. She lived only a year more after that summer. While her cake is delicious, it serves as a reminder to me of the importance of passing on the sweet things in life--to our families, our friends and even those who may only sit a few minutes in our kitchen.
Life is short. If we are only given 20 minutes, why not bake something wonderful and think about those we love?
courtesy of Marie Haller Boehmer
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Topping: 1 TBS. butter, 3 TBS. sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon
Combine sugar and shortening, mixing until fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Add vanilla and milk. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt, add to wet mixture, and beat smooth. Bake in greased 9-inch round pan, or 8-inch square pan, at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately spread butter on top, then sift sugar-cinnamon mixture over top. Serve warm.