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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sunday Favorites -- Grandma's Cake

On Saturday, my brother Kirby -- who is moving with his wife Doris to Virginia any minute -- gave us their snowblower. This will ensure mild and snow-free winters for the state of New Jersey, in perpetuity.

Also on Saturday, my other brother Lindy -- who is moving with his wife Carol to North Carolina one of these years -- gave me a rocking chair that had belonged to my grandmother. It needs a little TLC, and I'll get pictures of it soon.

Lindy says it was the nursery rocker for my Dad and his many siblings.
I think a rocker I already have in our front pink bedroom --

-- is Grandma's old nursery rocker. Who is right? Well, I am of course.

But I still like the other rocker, and it deserves a makeover.


Since I'm hopping on Chari's Sunday Favorites blog party bandwagon, I thought I'd share a post from almost a year ago, about my Grandma's cake. I'd make it myself today, except we are getting ready to scarper off to Florida on Monday.

Play nice while I am gone!


Grandma Cake... recipe and a little background.

My grandmother was born in Norway in 1875, and grew up in a house that dated back to Viking days. She lived until I was in college, and she was nearly 100. She'd wanted to make that century mark, but she didn't get her way on that one -- although she did on nearly everything else in her life.

She raised 7 children in New York City, in a big house on the rich farmland where JFK Airport now stands. My father is her youngest, and he is nearly 89. (Now nearly 90!)

She was a remarkable woman,
Margrethe Olave Eskeland Lindtveit.

She could draw sewing patterns freehand, sewed all the clothes for her big family, including coats and men's shirts, knitted like a machine, crocheted, tatted, and, until they fell apart from age and sunlight, a set of Hardanger curtains she made as a young bride hung in my family's dining room.

She had the greenest thumb this side of Eden, skipped lunch to afford fresh flowers, was barely 5-feet tall, opinionated, smart, determined, and she scared her family witless. Not one of your pushover grandmothers, my Grandma.

She walked barefoot in the morning dew 3 seasons of the year, had long glossy brilliant white hair that she washed in an enamel dishpan with a bar of coal tar soap and then dried outside, in the sunshine, the hair streaming down her back; to my sister and me she looked like an aging enchanted princess.

She loved boats and fishing and her husband Gunvald devotedly (and probably equally), could gut a fish and pan fry it to perfection, baked the flakiest piecrust, and made a bundt-style cake that is the best food, ever, anywhere on the planet.

She gave that recipe to my mother, least loathed of her daughters-in-law, and my mother promised to pass it on to me. She never did. When Mom sank into Alzheimer's, I figured the recipe for Grandma Cake was lost forever.

But recently my sister Peggy handed my mother's recipe box to me:

Lo and behold, there it was, right in front . . . the Holy Grail:

I love how my Mom wrote "Serves 12 - 15."
What family was she thinking of?
If you click on the picture, the recipe will greatly enlarge and you can easily read it. I love that it's in my Mom's distinctive handwriting. But, in case you have trouble deciphering it, here is the recipe:

3 cups flour (unbleached)
1 cup sugar

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. mace
a pinch of salt

1 cup butter (no margarine; Grandma will rise up and sm
ite you!)
3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp. pure vanilla

Mix all the above thoroughly and beat at high speed for 3 to 4 minutes. (Note: If you are using a high speed mixer, like a Kitchen Aid, cut back on the mixing a bit.)

Bake at 350 for approx. 1 hour.

(It's not written down, because you are clearly just supposed to know that the cake batter goes into a greased bundt or tube pan before y
ou put it in the oven!)

This is not a fine-grained pound cake; it has a rather coar
se crumb, and the outside gets quite dark and caramelized looking and as the cake ages a day or two the "crust" gets a bit of a crunch to it. Oh my. I may have to bake this. I don't bake anymore because Howard and I aren't eating sugary things. I may have to make an exception. Please let me know if you try it! -- Cass

Update... I made the Grandma Cake ... Yum.
Pics and story here!


  1. I love the story about finding the long lost recipe for Grandma's cake. I love how you shared your rememberences of your Grandmother.

  2. Methinks that THIS line:

    "This will ensure mild and snow-free winters for the state of New Jersey, in perpetuity."

    is merely wishful thinking on your part.

  3. What a great story and a fabulous treasure!

  4. Hi Cass...

    Love that pretty little rocker, Cass! Now I'm wondering if you have refinished it since doing this post? Ohh sounds like your grandmother was quite the woman! What a wonderful story you wrote about her! Very industrious and creative...Hmmm, sounds like someone else I know! wink! Your Grandma's cake sounds absolutely divine! I am definitely going to give it a try! Thank you for sharing it with us!!!

    Well Darlin'...I sooo enjoyed this lovely post today about your Grandmother! Thank you for sharing it with all of us today for Sunday Favorites!!!

    Warmest winter wishes,
    Chari @Happy To Design

  5. Oh my! Your grandmother sounds like the carbon copy of one of my grandmothers. We also have a prized cake recipe that she created.

    It is a holiday cake so I will have to remember to do a post on it next Christmas.

    Lovely story and I'm so glad you reposted it.

  6. Cass-I missed this the first time and I am SO glad you reposted it. Your grandmother looks like a strong woman with a no nonsense attitude ("least-loathed":). I loved your story. I am sure the state of New Jesey thanks your brother in advance. Have a great trip...I will try not to be envious...but I will have to work at it. Show us what you have done to the rocker!

  7. I love this post, and what a rich history, your family on JFK Airport land.. I have my grandmother's recipe book too, it's one of my treasures.

    I'll be sure to try this cake, perhaps later today.. thank you so much for sharing.

    AND... I AM SO JEALOUS that you are heading to Florida!! My husband said just this morning when I let the dogs out into the frigid air... Don't you wish you were in Florida right now? *sigh*

    Wonderful, safe trip to you and yours - pictures when you return! For those of us who can only dream :-)

  8. How wonderful, Cass! I love your grandmother just from reading about her. My greandfather also wore shoes as little as possible! lol And to have her cake recipe...that's such a treasure. I'd give my eye teeth for my Granny's apple butter recipe! You are so lucky! I will have to try this one. It sounds yummy! Happy weekend...hugs...Debbie

  9. Cass, had to come back and tell you I smell the aroma of Grandma's Cake baking in my oven right now... the only exception was I didn't have mase in the house.

  10. Thanks for sharing the story about your Grandmother and her recipe. Have a great trip.

  11. I remember that post, Cass. I made your grandmother's cake last year and can attest that the recipe is a keeper!

  12. Oh LoVe the story about your amazing generation. Also love how you typed baking powder in bold...some of us need that. Once when making my famous cakey sugar cookies, I switched the amounts of powder for soda...the dogs LOVED them. Me, not so much. **Happy smiles** Deb

  13. How wonderful to have a recipe hand written by your mother of your grandmother's. So many families don't have this kind of heritage. You are blessed.

  14. Good morning my friend...Girl I loved reading the story about your grandma...what an awesome woman she must have been and they say BIG things come in small packages ha ha!! How great that you got your mama's recipes box and can not pass this down to your girls...I hope all is well in your world today my friend...Many Blessings...Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  15. I never knew any of my grandparents. Such a shame.
    I think it is hilarious that you both have grandma's rocker. Now you know how family tree stories get so mixed up. Lol.
    My favorite thing about your grandma is that she let her hair dry in the sunshine. That was precious time to herself that women of that era didn't get to take often.

  16. Your grandmother story is wonderful! It is so good to write down these family stories. My sister does the genealogy in our family and my mom and I do the stories.
    Perhaps I'll try the cake. It sounds easy enough for me to do.

  17. I just love visiting your blog. This story and recipe are wonderful... oh and I just wanted to say one of my daughter's was sitting here beside me and as your blog came up she said I love that house, I hope I can have one one day.

  18. I loved this story, Cass! And the cake is now on my list for this week!
    xo, misha

  19. Hi Cass,
    Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Your Grandmother is a beautiful lady and I enjoyed reading about her. The cake sounds delicious, almost reminds me of a cake my grandmother used to bake.

    Enjoy your trip!

  20. Wow, that recipe box must be an amazing treasury!


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