When Grandpa John Was a Kid - The Angel Food Cake Pan

One of my happiest moments as a boy was when I would share the angel food cake pan with my brother and sister just after the cake came out. My mother, a home economics teacher, made the best angel food cake in town during the 1930ís.

A steady hand was a must to separate the whites from the yokes of a dozen fresh eggs. An egg was cracked over a bowl and the yoke was poured back and forth between the two half shells until only the yoke remained in the shell while the white fell into the bowl. Flour and sugar were mixed, sifted three times, and set aside. Then Mother beat the mixture of egg whites, cream of tarter, salt, vanilla, and almond extract with a wire whip until foamy. While still beating this mixture, Mother added sugar, a little at a time. She didnít stop beating until the meringue held up in stiff peaks. I remember standing in awe of the muscles in my motherís strong arm as I watched her beat the egg white mixture with the wire whip. Only after I became a parent did I understand that this was a labor of love.

Next Mother gently folded in the flour-sugar mix before pushing the batter into an ungreased tube-centered pan. Finally, there was a gentle cut through the batter with a knife before baking. When the top would spring back when lightly touched, the cake was done. Finally, it was turned upside down to cool.

After my patience had been fully tried, the cake was pronounced "cool" and was removed by running a knife between the cake and the tall round pan. With the cake safely on the plate, Mother handed the pan and three spoons to her children. When the golden brown residue scraped from the sides of the pan reached my mouth, my taste buds reacted with a pleasure that no other food has ever matched.

When I was a little older, my brother Wallace and I baked a special cookie every Christmas and at other times too. The name at the top of the card in the recipe box that my wife copied from my motherís card is "JOHN AND WALLACE COOKIES." I think Mother chose these cookies for her young boys to make because they were so easy. Why not let your children try?


2 cups brown sugar 2 cups flour

1/2 lb. butter 1 cup chopped pecans

2 eggs well beaten

Cream butter and one cup of brown sugar together.

Add one well-beaten egg, and mix well.

Add flour, working in gradually.

Now spread this mixture to evenly cover a buttered baking sheet with short sides.

Cover the surface thoroughly with the other well-beaten egg.

(A childís clean, open hand works well for spreading the egg.)

Sprinkle with the remaining cup of brown sugar and pecans.

Bake until lightly brown in a 350 degree oven.

Cut into bars, but do not remove from the pan until cool.

Yield is three dozen.

Copyright 1998 by John C. Westervelt

Return to Table of Contents