Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When a Coconut Cake Isn't a Coconut Cake

About 10 years ago I began a search for the ultimate coconut cake to make for the father-in-law. The FIL had always talked about his momma's coconut cake and how he missed it. So, I'd never actually met a coconut cake I liked, but I figured I could find an awesome recipe to make for the FIL and he could have some connection to his momma's cake - not to ever substitute for a memory for you know you can't ever top a memory. I found two coconut cake recipes before I was done. One was a good 100 years old or better as the lady I acquired that recipe from was hitting near 50 and she had gotten the recipe from her grandma which puts the recipe at bare minimum of 100 years in age. The second I found in one of my gourmet Christmas books. Both of the recipes have become a Mignon's family tradition. The cake far exceeded my expectations and far exceeds whether the FIl likes or loves the cake or not. I must say that the look on my husband's face when I make either of these two mouth watering moist coconut cakes is comparable to a child on Christmas morning. By the time I put all the ingredients in for a scratch batter, divide out the batter into three sections, bake and cool the 3 layers, make, cook, and cool the filling, and make the icing, and get everything put together and the cake put in the icebox to chill for the night so that it is glistening by morning ready for its big presentation for afternoon desserts after our Thanksgiving meal and all the oohhs and awws of this delightful confection, it is certainly a labor of love.

Uniquely enough I feel the closest to my late grandmother when I'm cooking, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. It is through Grandma Mignon that I learned to cook and to love baking and cooking and I discovered that you can reach a person through their stomach. My sister was my first food taster when I started cooking at age 10 and my family still never knows what may come out of the kitchen. I just came up with another new recipe to try in the near future.

I made one of these scrumptious coconut cake delights today and just put it in the fridge for it's Thanksgiving Eve chill. I realized this evening when reading the expiration date on the corn syrup that it had expired the autumn of 2007 which meant I hadn't made one of these dreamy cakes since the Thanksgiving or as late as the Christmas of 2006. The arduous amount of work and time required to bake one of these cakes that dance through the hub's dreams rather than sugar plums was not something I was physically capable of doing for the last two years. I had a silent moment of sheer delight when I realized through a cake that I am continuing to get better and to improve from my injury. It isn't a trophy or blue ribbon moment nor will my name be called to receive a degree from this special moment and only you may know what a cake and an expired bottle of sticky corn syrup mean to me, but I know. Just an expired ole bottle of corn syrup gave me hope and I could feel God's hug and could almost hear Grandma's chuckle and know that all will be ok even if the life I had thought was perfectly packaged is now not perfectly packaged and I don't know what happens next.

Sometimes a coconut cake isn't a coconut cake....sometimes it's an arduous labor of love for one's spouse and family........sometimes it's a way for a granddaughter to reach out to heaven and find her grandmother.........and sometimes it's a way for God and Grandma to reach down to me and give me a little faith that everything is going to be alright.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends.


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