The Power of Cake

One of the first things I discovered when I started my journey into searching family history was that family members wanted to be related to someone famous. The first Escalante to set foot in Mexico. The Escalante that discovered the canyon in Utah. I am rather old-fashioned and don’t want to be related to Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante (pardon the lack of accent). Father Escalante was a priest. If we are related to him, we’d be part of his very scarlet history.

I have told my family that if they want to related to someone famous, then they should go and get famous. But to please take great care not to confuse “famous” with “infamous.”

To give all the branches of the family comfort, they are related to someone  who is famous. Me. In my tiny part of Payne County, Oklahoma, I am famous for something very simple. Chocolate cake.

12 years ago I wandered onto http://www.hersheys.com. And wow! Cakes, cookies, brownies, oh my! We had a potluck at work. I brought the Deep Dark Chocolate Cake. One of my co-workers started to squeal in such a passionate way, many in the office were concerned she was not alone. And she wasn’t. She had the cake. And it made her VERY happy.

I took her amorous exclamations as a sign the recipe was good. I started taking it with me to various functions. After my son was born, I became a Stay-At-Home Mom. One day a group of moms got together for a luncheon. I brought the cake. One of the mom’s said, “I love this cake. My husband would love it too.” I told her she could find the recipe at Hershey’s. She looked at me completely puzzled. “From scratch? I could never make it from scratch. How could I make a box mix taste like this?” There was nothing I could say without laughing hysterically, so I went into the other room.

At the beginning of my marriage, I made a move to cook from scratch for frugality reasons (a whole different blog topic). But what had been an ode to cheaper eating has become my “go to” recipe for chocolate cake. I don’t buy box mixes for chocolate cake anymore. I buy white and yellow box mixes, but they tend to go bad on my shelf.

Over the years I have moved to the Black Magic Cake recipe and I use the One Bowl Chocolate Buttercream frosting recipe that is at the end of the Deep Dark Chocolate cake recipe. Both cakes are excellent, but the Black Magic is my husband’s preference, so we go with it.

I was invited to parties, I am certain, only to bring the cake. I have tried to tell others they can make it too. They ignore me. I’ve had friends’ children ask me to make it for their birthdays. That is one of my biggest honors. My ego puffs up to an enormous size on those days.

For over a decade, I’ve been bringing this cake to parties. But it is more of a time of food fellowship with friends and family. My husband has learned to make it. He understands that cake makes friends. On a potluck table, no one will eat it because it looks so plain. When the guests hear that it’s “Edwina’s cake,” they flock to it.

For many families, food is a central part of the history. One of my cousins was missing her Nana’s beans the other day. Comfort. Hospitality. Family. Love.

I understand this isn’t a familial recipe I’m passing down to future generations from those before me. It will be me, making my own history. Here in my little neck of the woods. One bite at a time.

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