On Sunday, March 1, I decided that winter was done. That afternoon, though, I drove to the Ward’s home in Madison to celebrate Zimmy’s 90th birthday. There would be around 40 of us and the food promised to be yummy. I had bought my Coca-Cola Cake and a slow-cooker full of Cincinnati four-way chili. Both were good but Eugenia’s baked rigatoni along with chopped liver, potatoes Lyonnaise and Norma’s gorgeous jelly roll, 18-inches long ringed with beautiful berries were even better.
It was snowing as I drove my car out of the garage and the light precip turned into serious snow (I’d worn real shoes instead of the knee-high mukluks’ I lived in for more than a month.) By the time I got to Madison, there was an inch on the ground. The party was fabulous, but by late afternoon, people began to head home.
When I got into my car, it was a serious snowstorm, and I had “miles to go before I sleep,” as Robert Frost wrote. The usual 45 minutes tuned into two and a half hour, never seeing a white or yellow line. All I could do was follow the cars in front of me. Fortunately, I made it home safe and sound.
Obviously, my decision that winter was over made God laugh. Once home I made a cup of tea and warmed my toes with a blanket. After watching “Downtown Abbey,” my new decision would be to make a spice cake the next day.
Old-Fashioned Spice Cake
Adapted from Linnea Rufo, Bee & Thistle Inn, Old Lyme, CT
Yield: serves 10 to 12 people
1 cup sugar
One-half cup (1 stick) butter
One-half cup currants or raisins or dried cherries (optional)
One-half cup candied ginger, chopped
2 tablespoons molasses
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
One-quarter teaspoon cloves
One-half teaspoon ginger
1 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease a 10-inch tube pan.
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
- Pour batter into prepared tube pan. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until cake pulls away from sides of pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool cake in the pan, set on a rack, for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and spread on icing at once, while cake is still warm.