Have you any plans for Mother’s Day? I feel like every day is a day to celebrate being a mother and grandmother. I love all my children and grandchildren, but we happen to live closest to Susan and her family. And I want you to know that I am not above bribing the girls to come over with freshly baked cookies.
Larry and I were high school sweethearts in Carthage, Ill., and he always tells the story about noticing the cookie jar that was always filled with different kinds of cookies at my home. That he thought I knew how to bake all those cookies might have sealed the deal for him.
More than 50 years later, some might say Larry is one smart cookie. Is that the secret to a happy marriage — keeping the cookie jar well-stocked? It might be when it comes to Larry! The center of our home is the kitchen, and things are not important to me: people are. That’s why I love to cook for people and bake with my grandchildren.
Sometimes they bring their friends and we all just bake together. Conversation flows naturally when we’re all in the kitchen together. It’s a special bonding time when we’re making food together. Then, of course, we eat it together, too.
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Talking about eating together, it’s hard to beat the moistness of your Wacky Jacky cake. But honestly, what kind of name is this for a cake? I’ve read of a Wacky cake, but not a Wajacky version. My mom, Lela Murphy, found this recipe for Wajacky cake when I was in high school in a magazine or newspaper. I don’t know if it was a typo, but we didn’t know how to pronounce it, so she just called it Wacky Jacky cake, and it’s been called that now for four generations.
Mom made it often when we all would get together on the farm on Sunday evenings. We would have homemade ice cream, made with rich, thick cream straight from the cows.
And now, you’re making your own memories with this cake. Lizzie has loved this cake since she was very small. When Susan and she would make the cake together, Lizzie had to wear her Wacky Jacky shirt, which had a zebra on it.
Then when Liz started cooking by herself, she made this cake so much that her family forbid her from making it again for a while.
If you make a Wacky Jacky without the frosting, there are no eggs or dairy in it, which is good for people who are intolerant or allergic to those ingredients. Every time Kate, Liz and I make this cake together, it always brings up many good memories, and we also make more of our own together.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a cook.
Occupation: Retired office manager and piano teacher
Special cooking interest: Sweet treats
Family: Married to Larry for 54 years with three children, five grandchildren and a 3-year-old great-granddaughter.
Daughter Susan Whitney of Mission Hills says preparing family recipes with family members is not only fun, it’s also a way to teach an essential skill set while creating memories. “I can remember eating this cake at my grandmother’s house when I was young,” she says. “Old-fashioned recipes that are handed down are actually part of someone.”
Fourteen-year-old Kate Whitney of Mission Hills says when she really started to enjoy baking was when she was cooking with Ganion. “I made my first apple pie with her,” she says. “And we also make this chocolate cake.”
“We grew up with Granny’s Wacky Jacky cake, by both making it and eating it,” says 17-year-old Lizzie Whitney. “This recipe is integral to Granny.”
Wajacky or Wacky Jacky Cake
Makes 24 servings
For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups water
For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
2 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups powdered sugar
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together directly into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle sugar evenly over all dry ingredients. Using the back of a wooden spoon, create 3 wells, then pour vanilla, white vinegar and vegetable oil into each, respectively.
Immediately pour water over all and stir ingredients together using a table fork until well incorporated.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is springy and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
To make the frosting: In a large mixing bowl, cream butter using an electric mixer, set on low speed. Slowly add milk and cocoa powder, beating until well incorporated. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until creamy. If frosting is too thick, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Allow cake to cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Frost, cut into 24 pieces and serve.
Per serving: 300 calories (33 percent from fat), 11 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 11 milligrams cholesterol, 50 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 235 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.