Tradition!

Birthday number 5 in Kingston, Jamaica, and my mother has baked her famous “Strawberry Angel Food Cake!” This was no small feat in 1955, before the advent of the palatable cake mix.

After being coaxed from the resentful chickens, a dozen eggs had to be scoured clean of dung and carefully separated, yolks from whites.  With a handheld rotary eggbeater, the whites were beaten stiff with cream of tartar and extra-fine sugar. The resulting fluffy meringue was then tenderly folded together with Swans Down cake flour that had been patiently sifted three times to ensure proper aeration of its already microscopic molecules.

Pussyfooting to the oven, my mother tenderly placed the pan with its precious batter precisely in the center of the rack, oh-so-slowly shutting the oven door without so much as a squeak. Afraid that turning her back on the cake might somehow insult it, she made a slow backward kowtowing retreat from the kitchen, crossing her fingers and sending up a silent prayer to the angel food gods.

Woe to the one who raised his voice above a whisper! No running, no talking, no singing, and heaven forbid, if a door should slam within 5 miles of our kitchen, that cake would FALL and the birthday party would be RUINED!  I was slipped a mickey and sent off for a nap while the shushed household tiptoed and whispered around me.

More often than not, that blessed angel food cake rose to the occasion. The pan was turned upside down on a bottleneck to cool, then the billowy cake was stuffed and smothered with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.  So as not to smash its poufy layers, it required slicing with a lethally sharp comb-like apparatus. That was one scrumptious confection.

Still is! I’ve been baking it for my own children beginning with my first baby’s first birthday and I have some of my own Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Super 8 and Polaroid pictures to prove it…

TRADITION!

2 comments on “Tradition!”

  1. Love the post and love the scrumptious strawberry confection!

  2. I remember eating that yummy delight one year. These posts are the best!


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