Recently my Aunt Lucille (married to Dad’s brother, Frank) lent me some old family photos to scan for preservation. I was particularly intrigued by this one of my Granny standing in front of an old gas stove that looked amazingly like one I had just seen at the Salvation Army.
I am still kicking myself for pondering the purchase of it too long. Of course, it sat there for MONTHS and a few days after I spot it…someone buys it. Argghh! It was in pristine condition and I doubt I’ll ever see another one like it at that price.
Anyway, my Granny didn’t really cook that often for us. She had a small, one bedroom cottage and having the 5 of us over would have been difficult. But, there was one thing she made that I absolutely loved. It is one of those desserts that either you love it or hate it. My husband doesn’t care for it because he doesn’t like alcohol in a dessert (no Rum Cake for him!) but everyone else I’ve given it to says they love it.
This is a photo of a hastily prepared version of this (it really “does” look better than this…no, really!). My parents were visiting last weekend and I wanted to make Dad his favorite. His memory is failing him now and I want to use every opportunity to stimulate his senses to try and keep him here with me while I can. It’s sad but a fact I’m learning to cope with. I’m hoping the horrible disease that’s robbing him of his memory will be rare someday in the future.
Since it was a busy day of shopping, I scrambled to put this recipe together quickly. Normally I would take my time to prepare this but this will give you an idea of what it should look like. Next time I make it, I’ll have more time and I’ll replace this photo! Ha!
GRANNY’S LAYERED DESSERT (called Ante)
1 day (or at least a couple of hours) in advance, prepare a simple syrup by taking 1 cup of white sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until reduced by 1/2. Take off heat and add a few cinnamon sticks while it is still hot. Cover and set aside so the cinnamon has a chance to infuse into the syrup.
One 1 lb. frozen Sara Lee Pound Cake (Granny also could use Ladyfingers if she had them)
1 large package vanilla instant pudding
1/4 c. Sherry
First, make your syrup. Set your pound cake out to thaw, per instructions (obviously, fresh pound cake can be used but the denseness of the Sara Lee cake makes it better in my opinion.)
Make pudding according to instructions (make it according to the instruction for PIES, which is a thicker consistency). With a serrated knife, cut the pound cake into thirds horizontally.
Get a plate with a rim on it and pour several Tablespoons of syrup on the plate and a capful of Sherry (approx 1 TBSP or to your taste). Stir to blend and take the bottom 1/3 of the pound cake and place on syrup-laden plate. Use a spoon to get the syrup over the pound cake until it is mostly absorbed. USING A WIDE PANCAKE TURNER, lift the syrup-soaked cake to your serving platter (which should ALSO have a rim). Take 1/3 the pudding mixture and spoon gently over the cake layer so that it gently runs down the side. Sprinkle some cinnamon on that layer and sprinkle with crushed walnuts and raisins (as many as you like). Take the 2nd middle section of the pound cake and repeat the syrup procedure. Again, spoon 1/3 pudding over the cake. Again, sprinkle cinnamon, walnuts and raisins.
Take the last layer of cake and once again, repeat procedure above. Pour the remaining pudding over the whole thing and sprinkle with cinnamon and crushed walnuts.
Refrigerate until serving.
Granny used to whip up a meringue and dollop it on top. I prefer to used whipped topping as a garnish. I usually will pipe whipped cream around the base right before serving…
I hope the length of the instructions don’t intimidate you. I try to be thorough in my instructions because Granny didn’t really write anything down. It was one of those verbal recipes, handed down from generation to generation. I hope you enjoy it!