Thank you to all who shared cakes, stories, and recipes at our Annual Meeting last night. While our judges selected winners in five categories, all participants received a BLUE RIBBON for sharing a cake, as well as much appreciation from all those who attended the meeting and were able to taste them! There was a big variety and remarkably, no two cakes were alike.
Special thanks also goes to our two judges, Susan Swagler and Pam Lolley for a difficult job selecting winners. Susan is a Food, Books & Lifestyle Writer and a founding member & past president of Les Dames d’Escoffier International Birmingham and you can follow her at Savor.blog. Pam is retired from twenty years in the Southern Living test kitchen, a free lance cook, and also a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier. Thank you, judges!
Most Unusual Cake: Potato Caramel Cake (Alleen Cater) – secret ingredient, mashed potatoes! Pam Lolley said her 20 years in the Southern Living test kitchen, she’d never heard of using mashed potatoes in a cake and it was delicious!
Most Vintage Cake: Caramel Cake (Elizabeth Hester) – this brought back wonderful childhood memories for the judges and was considered a standard in most southern kitchens
Most Beautiful Cake: Napoleon (Vasilisa Strelnikova) – the judges appreciated the care with which this cake was decorated and said the baby’s breath was a beautiful addition
Best Overall Cake: Miss Tinsley’s Sour Cream Pound Cake (Wilson Green) – the judges agreed that you can’t beat a good pound cake and this was delicious. One BHS attendee stated that Myrtle Tinsley was one of her church members and friend, a former schoolteacher, and a dynamite cook!
Best Memory Statement: Grand Aunt Mrytle’s Lane Cake (Don Cosper) -the secret ingredient was a cup of whiskey, somewhat scandalous among these Baptist bakers! This original cake recipe is one of the oldest in Alabama and was immortalized in To Kill a Mockingbird.
All the cakes were accompanied by childhood stories and we hope that one day the Birmingham Historical Society can assemble these recipes and stories into a book!
Several members of the audience recalled when President Franklin Roosevelt came to Jasper, Alabama to attend the funeral of William Bankhead. The thousands (estimated 40,000) who attended can attest to the importance of the Bankhead family’s political influence in Alabama for several generations,
While most of us know a cake walk to be a joyful celebration where the best bakers have an opportunity to show off their skills, it wasn’t always that way! In fact, the cake walk had its origins in Afro-American history:
The cakewalk was a pre-Civil War dance originally performed by slaves on plantation grounds. The uniquely American dance was first known as the “prize walk”; the prize was an elaborately decorated cake. Hence, “prize walk” is the original source for the phrases “takes the cake” and “cakewalk.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “a black American entertainment having a cake as prize for the most accomplished steps and figures in walking; a stage dance developed from walking steps and figures typically involving a high prance with backward tilt; an easy task.”
The Cakewalk seems to have begun in the days of slavery, when black folks strutted along in a fanciful manner in imitation of formal white dancing. Supposedly the name comes from the custom of the master awarding a cake to the couple who put on the best performance. The dance came back around in the twentieth century when white folks started to imitate the black version.
Drop off cakes prior to Birmingham Historical Society annual meeting on February 27th. Taste testing will follow meeting! Be sure to include a card with your name and description. More information here.
Everyone is welcome at the Annual Meeting of the Birmingham Historical Society on February 27th at 7:00PM at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Copies of the book, “Deep South Dynasty” published by University of Alabama Press will be available for sale and signed by Professor of History, Kari Frederickson. A popular annual cake walk follows the meeting.