You Show Your Love by the Recipes You Leave Behind

I can’t quite remember when I first realized how much I enjoyed baking and entertaining. The act of sharing something you made from scratch with someone special has always brought me great joy.

Growing up I never realized just how lucky I was to have been blessed with both sets of grandparents, but also two great-great grandmothers. When you are young, you seem to take for granted those around you until later in life when you can no longer hear their voices or see their smiles, then suddenly you realize just how important they were to you.

As a small child, I would spend many weekends at both my grandparents’ homes. Playing with cousins, climbing trees, and even learning to sew. But during all that time, I never really paused to watch as both my grandmothers made their delicious fruit pies, special cakes, or our families favorite holiday cookies. I just never thought that eventually one day they would not be part of my life. As each of my grandmothers moved on, my mom became the keeper of their recipes. Over the years, my mother, also a baker, shared with me how to make many of our family cookie recipes, including how to make those awfully delicious clothespins cookies, (wrapped on real clothespins), kolaches, candy bar cookies, and other family favorites. What my mother could not share with me, was how her mother and my father’s mother made their cakes, pies, and strudels. Just like me, taking time to learn never happened until time had already slipped by.

This past year, after reflecting on all that I had lost, I sat down with my mother, who is now 94, and together we began the task of going through hundreds, YES HUNDREDS of recipe cards and clippings that she had in her possession. Her eyesight has begun to fail her, but her memory of her favorite bakery has not.

Like so many of the old recipe cards, ingredient amounts were scribbled, parts left out because they were made so many times; after all, why need to write them down? Or the cards had become brittle from use that they had started to fall apart, missing crucial directions.

We spent many hours sorting through all the recipe cards, finding recipes she remembered as a child and those recipes that I had long ago forgotten about. It was during this recipe pilgrimage that we came across one of her mother’s special cake recipes. A cake so loved that her mother would make it and sell it to make extra money. She handed me the card and whispered every so sweetly please. How could I not try? All she could offer me in the way of direction was that she remembered how much she loved the frosting and the unique taste of the cake.

I would like to thank you for allowing me to share a little of my family’s baking journey, as well as one of the recipes one of my grandmothers so lovingly baked for her family and who made sure to leave the recipe behind so it could be shared and baked over and over. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family has.

Grandma’s Graham Cracker Cake Recipe

Makes: A frosted 3-tiered cake (12 slices)
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 3-4 hours (including cooling time.)

INGREDIENTS:ingredients for graham cracker cake

CAKE:
1 1/3 cup of butter (softened)
1 ½ cup sugar
4-5 eggs room temperature (small – 5, large– 4); Separate egg yolks and whites.
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cup cake flour
3 tsp. baking powder
A pinch of salt.
30 graham cracker sheets – (make into crumbs)
1 cup of chopped walnuts
1 ½ cup of milk

FROSTING:
1 bar of German Chocolate baking chocolate
2 – sticks of butter (1/2 #)
3 cups of powdered sugar
1 egg (*optional)
1 tsp. vanillacake ingredients

STEP 1: Cake prep.

Preheat oven to 350 deg.
Grease three 9” cake pans. (I also lined my pans with a parchment round.)
Gather all the cake ingredients.
Sift together the dry ingredients. (Cake flour, baking powder and salt.)
Crumb graham crackers and grind nuts. (I used a food processor for this part of the recipe. My grandmother would have used a baggie and a rolling pin.)frosting ingredients

Separate the eggs – yolks and whites.
Beat egg whites until stiff.mixing eggs

STEP 2: Making the batter.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Continue beating as you gradually add the dry sifted ingredients.add dry sift ingredients

adding and mixing more dry ingredients

keep mixing ingredients

Next mix in the graham cracker crumbs and chopped nuts, alternating with the 1 ½ cup of milk.fold in egg whites

Gradually fold in the egg whites. Separate the dough evenly amongst the three greased cake pans. (When making this cake, I experimented with two types of cake pans. Both pans performed well.)pour batter into cake pans

Step 3: Baking.

Bake at 350 deg. for 20-25 minutes, until light brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool in pans on a wire rack.cakes cooling on wire rack

STEP 4: Frosting
Melt the bar of German Chocolate over a double boiler. Once melted remove from the heat and cool the chocolate slightly. In a bowl mix the softened butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the egg and the tsp. of vanilla. Next add the cooled melted chocolate. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, creating a spreadable frosting.mixing frosting for cake

Your frosting will have a light chocolate appearance and will not be stiff.frosting will have a light chocolate look

STEP 5: Building the Cake.
Take a knife and cut around each of the cooled cake pans to release the cake. Carefully place the bottom layer on a cake plate. Add the first layer of frosting on top, to create the first frosted layer. Then place the second cake layer and another layer of frosting. Top with the final cake and complete the frosting process on the top and all sides until the cake has been completely frosted. You should have no frosting left.
The cake tastes best at room temperature. If you used an egg in the frosting, please wrap tight to not dry out and store in the refrigerator. The cake freezes well when sliced, wrapped in wax paper and then in a freezer container or bag.

COMPLETE RECIPE WITHOUT PHOTOS:

Print
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Grandma’s Graham Cracker Cake

Ingredients

Units Scale

CAKE:

  • 1 1/3 cup of butter (softened)
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 45 eggs room temperature (small – 5, large- 4); Separate egg yolks and whites.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 30 graham cracker sheets – (make into crumbs)
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cup of milk

FROSTING:

  • 1 bar of German Chocolate baking chocolate
  • 2 sticks of butter (1/2 #)
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 egg (*optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions

STEP 1: Cake prep.

Preheat oven to 350 deg. Grease three 9” cake pans. (I also lined my pans with a parchment round.)
Gather all the cake ingredients. Sift together the dry ingredients. (Cake flour, baking powder and salt.)
Crumb graham crackers and grind nuts.
Separate the eggs – yolks and whites. Beat egg whites until stiff.

STEP 2: Making the batter.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Continue beating as you gradually add the dry ingredients.
Next mix in the graham cracker crumbs and chopped nuts, alternating with the 1 ½ cup of milk.
Gradually fold in the egg whites. Separate the dough amongst the three cake pans.

STEP 3: Baking.
Bake at 350 deg. for 20-25 minutes, until light brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool in pans on a wire rack.

STEP 4: Frosting
Melt the bar of German Chocolate over a double boiler. Once melted remove from the heat and cool the chocolate slightly.
In a bowl mix the softened butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the egg and the tsp. of vanilla. Next add the cooled melted chocolate.
Gradually add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, creating a spreadable frosting. Your frosting will have a light chocolate appearance and will not be stiff.

STEP 5: Building the Cake.
Take a knife and cut around each of the cooled cake pans to release the cake. Carefully place the bottom layer on a cake plate.
Add the first layer of frosting on top, to create the first frosted layer. Then place the second cake layer and another layer of frosting. Top with the final cake and complete the frosting process on the top and all sides until the cake has been completely frosted. You should have no frosting left.

Notes

The cake tastes best at room temperature. If you used an egg in the frosting, please wrap tight to not dry out and store in the refrigerator. The cake freezes well when sliced, wrapped in wax paper and then in a freezer container or bag.

  • Author: Diane Rock

Keywords: graham cracker cake, cake

 

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A Few of My Favorite Lehman’s Baking Items

In the making of this recipe, I used items that I found at Lehman’s in Kidron. The below items can be purchased at the store or on their online store.
my mother's recipe box

START YOUR OWN RECIPE BOX TO PASS DOWN.

Make one for you and another family member. Great gift idea.

I would suggest you select the larger 4×6 cards and box. Don’t forget to add a few labeled family photos of the cooks and bakers in your recipe box. You could even list what recipes they were best known for.

oven rack tool

Lehman’s Wooden Oven Rack Tool
Hello! If you do not own one of these wonderful oven gadgets, this should be your first purchase. They also make great stocking stuffers.

Stainless Steel Flour SifterStainless Steel Flour Sifter
No baker should ever be without this simple tool. A hand sifter. Required for so many baking projects and sometimes not found in today’s kitchen. No electric needed here.

parchment roundsParchment Rounds – available in the baking section. I love to use parchment sheets when baking cakes, especially my coconut sponge cakes. If you have ever cut your parchment paper to fit a cake pan you will understand how wonderful these pre-cut liners are.

nesting measuring cups

6-Piece Nesting Measuring CupsMason Cash Forest Fox Mixing BowlMason Cash Forest Fox Mixing Bowl – 11.75 inch

This post is sponsored by Lehman’s. As always, all opinions are mine. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that help make my love of baking possible!

Editor’s Note: Any use of the above article or images without prior permission, will be in violation of copyright laws.

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Shelly Jones
Shelly Jones
1 month ago

Thank you for sharing your story. everyone has passed in my family so sad for the holidays . it’s nice to have a special piece Of something that brought so much joy. What a great way to organize those memories with photos.

marsha
marsha
1 month ago

THANK YOU !!! sooo SPECIAL !! THANK YOU !

Susan Groeschel
Susan Groeschel
1 month ago

This was my requested birthday cake as a child. My mother baked it in 1 large rectangle pan. No frosting but a big scoop of sweetened thick dairy whip cream. My alternate favorite was Schaum tortes with sliced sweetened strawberries. Home made. These were touchy as they might not set up perfectly or weep. They were chewy but not tough and not like the crisp egg white shells you see in commercial grocery stores. My mother made her own parchment paper. She cut the needed size from a clean brown paper bag. She ironed it flat. It was my job to rub Crisco into both sides of the paper. German/Prussian.

Lehman's
Lehman's
Admin
Reply to  Susan Groeschel
1 month ago

What a wonderful story, Susan! Thank you for reading.

Ann
Ann
29 days ago

For Christmas this year I created a recipe book for my three grown kids. It took me about 2 years working off and on. I really don’t know how many recipes that are in it but it is 182 pages. It has recipes that are mine, my Moms (she is 97), and other family members and friends recipes. My kids were so excited to get this.

Carol Brisentine
Carol Brisentine
20 days ago

Ty that was very detailed and easy to follow.. I wish I had my Grandma’s old fashioned cream pie recipe!!! It was great every time.. and with the crest that was left she made cinnamon wraps! Boy oh boy we sure miss her???

Martha
Martha
14 days ago

My mother also backed a Graham Cracker Cake. Her’s was a little different. Also she used crushed pineapple, that she thicked, to stack her Cake. That made it super moist. The chocolate sounds good too.

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