The annual BHS cake/pie competition was a huge success with eighteen entries and just one more cake than there were pies. Oh my! It was hard to choose! There were pound cakes, there were tea cakes, chocolate, caramel, and even a büche de noel. The stories behind them were as good as the cakes! But the clear winner was Don Sweeney’s “Friendship Cake” – a cake which takes 50 days to make – and which was first presented during the Civil Rights Era and over 200 times since then, personally baked by Don himself!
According to Carolanne,
“It was introduced to his family by Gertrude who had worked with the family for years before requesting “time off” to go participate in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham—she became known as the Rosa Parks of Rosedale for her mighty works. Don Sweeney’s dad had assured Gertrude that her job would await her and, in gratitude, she made this cake for the family. She must’ve also shared the recipe because Don has made it more than 200 times over the years since. It begins with a starter of fruits, sugar, and brandy which (I believe) must be tended to daily for about 3 weeks..then come other steps before the final baking. It was picture perfect in presentation—and wow’d the judge before he even knew about the process or the backstory.”
The 2020 annual meeting focused on a portion of Shades Valley originally developed for the South & North Alabama Railroad which is now in the Ross Bridge community. A beautifully designed stone culvert, c. 1864, which bridged Shades Creek is all that remains of the original railroad causeway designed to bring iron ore from the Oxmoor Furnaces to Confederate arsenals.
A project of one of Birmingham’s important pioneers, John T. Milner, his railroad led to the founding of Birmingham in December of 1871. Several descendants of Milner’s attended the meeting along with an audience of over a hundred. The history of the area was presented by BHS Director, Marjorie White, and the construction of the bridge was illustrated and discussed by Birgit Kibelka.
The meeting began with a presentation of the strategic plan for BHS by Joe Limbaugh, and was followed by a ‘taste testing’ of eighteen cakes and pies based on a memorable family recipe, organized by Carolanne Roberts. Each entry was accompanied by a family history or story, and many had been baked annually for special occasions or presented as gifts for years!
Cake vrs Pie Competition celebrates baked memories of the past. Dust off that old recipe and bake that cherished and memorable pie or cake! Bring it to the meeting at 4PM at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. We’d love to share it with you, along with the memories! And HERE’S how to join…
Here’s the entry form below. Be sure to include it with your entry!