Friday, November 23, 2018

Lane Cake and Other Post-Thanksgiving Baking

Even though Thanksgiving is early this year, relatively speaking, the holiday season will be on us before we know it. There will be holiday parties as soon as Dec. 1st! This is also almost the last week to bake things that need time to mellow, like fruitcakes and pfeffernusse cookies.This is when I begin to plan what cookies I need to bake and when they need to be made, plus I check on my ingredients and buy fresh baking spices like cloves and allspice and cinnamon. For nutmeg I make sure that I have the nutmeg nuts to grate since I think freshly grated nutmeg can make all the difference in the final product.

My Mom used to put us to work the day after Thanksgiving creating all the various parts of the traditional Lane Cake. The cake layer were thin sponge ones with a fairly tight crumb. Between each layer and over the whole cake there was an eggy,  whiskey-rich  frosting that was chock full of freshly grated coconut, chopped pecans and chopped glace' red and green cherries and ground raisins. I remember that we used the food grinder to process the raisins and so they came out of it as you turned the handle like a long dark snake! It was a tricky frosting to make and sometimes was too thin, so every couple of days Mom would take the cake out of it's cake keeper and reapply the frosting that had slid down the sides. We kept the. Are on the unheated side porch. It was often colder than a refrigerator in the winter time. Eventually the frosting would stick and stay so by Christmas it was perfect. This was a rich cake and was served in thin slices on Christmas and through the rest of the holiday season.

A few years ago our niece Milly Molly Mandy worked out a more modern version that doesn't use those neon colored cherries but substitutes some nice Michigan cherries, among other things. Her sister made the cake the first year she was in SF and she proudly displays it above. I was thrilled!

I made Lane Cake myself once when the kids were little but I was the only one who enjoyed it and my hips didn't need that much rich sweet, so I never made it again. Our tradition has become my making a breakfast treat to go with a bowl of mixed fresh fruit and some coffee.  There will be photos on this later, but we are on the road again tomorrow, so no time today. I do miss Lane Cake & might make it again to share with neighbors and friends.

Do you make fruitcake or a special holiday treat that needs to be made ahead?

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