Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bubbe's Famous Sponge Cake (non Passover)

Hello world! Sorry for my slight laziness in updating this blog.

But I have a surprise for you!

After you taste this sponge cake, you'll forget that I took forever to update.  Here's the recipe everyone has been bugging me for. Bubbe's sponge cake.

This recipe puzzled me as soon as I saw it.  Next to flour and sugar, she had put the measurement in "gl."  Now, as good as I am at googling things, I had no clue what it was. Luckily, cousin Toby knew exactly what it was: a yahrzeit candle glass.

With this knowledge, I enlisted my favorite blog to find out, what the quantity of a yahrzeit glass in the 1960s was. You can see the responses here:the kitchn. One reader responded that it was equivalent to about 10 oz, so I went with that.

This cake was a staple at every single family event.  The grand finale of every meal.  And, it worked on my first attempt at trying it. Success!

There are some things to keep in mind while making it as my mother reminded me.  First, since there's nothing to make it rise other than the egg whites, it's super important that you are as quiet as possible while it bakes.  That means, no opening the oven door to peak, no speaking in loud voices (whispering only while bubbe made it), and by no means, opening and closing doors.  

So here goes:

Bubbe's Sponge Cake 


9 eggs (separate)
2 c sugar
2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c orange juice
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp salt


 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease angel food cake pan
2. Combine dry ingredients (make sure to sift the flour)
3. Add the vanilla
4. Add half of the egg yolks to the flour- mix on low.
5. Add oil, mix.
6. Add the rest of the egg yolks, mix.
7. Combine with the orange juice.
8.  Beat egg whites to soft peaks, then fold it into the flour mixture.  Be very careful not to crush the whites (otherwise your cake will be flat).
9. Bake for 1 hour (or until toothpick comes out clean).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sour Cream Cake

For my first try at Bubbe's recipes, I decided to go with the easiest one.  Using my highly complicated metric, I chose to make the sour cream cake; it had the least amount of eggs. 

I don't think I've ever eaten this cake.  And I don't have any mushy-gushy stories to go with it.  All I can tell you is that it's delicious.  Which is why you should try making it.  As you can see, Bubbe wasn't so keen on putting exact measurements, or cooking times, or temperatures.  It took two tries, but I finally figured it out.   

When looking at the vanilla line, you can see that she just put 2.  Since these are old Eastern European recipes, I had to do some research on what that meant.  In Europe, many bakers use vanilla sugar (vs vanilla extract).  It's flavored vanilla sugar.  You can recreate it yourself by cutting open a vanilla bean and letting it sit in a sealed container of sugar for about 2 weeks.  Or you can be lazy like me and sub 1 packet to 1 tsp of extract. Some supermarkets do carry vanilla sugar in the baking aisle; I couldn't find it at Walmart.

Because I knew that this cake would take a few attempts.  I tried to convince some people to help me.  Chester was not interested.  But, luckily, Abigail was willing to help.

And Now for the recipe:

1 stick of margarine (I substituted butter for this)
1 cup sugar
2 cups white flour
2 eggs- separated
12 oz of sour cream
2 tsp of baking powder
2 packets of vanilla sugar (I substituted 2 tsp of vanilla extract)
1 tsp of salt

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 

2. Cream together sugar and margarine

 3. Separate 2 eggs.  Add vanilla to egg yolks. Hold off on beating egg whites until the later step, otherwise it will need to be redone before you add them.

4. In a large bowl, add dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt

5.  Slowly add 1/3 dry mixture to creamed sugar mixture and mix on low.  Then add one egg yolk.  Continue until egg yolks and flour are blended.  

6.  Next, add 12 oz of sour cream and continue mixing.  It should look like this:

 7.  Beat egg whites to stiff peaks.  Then fold them into the cake batter.  

8.  Put cake mixture into a greased loaf pan.
 9. Bake on 300 for about an hour and a half.  It's done when the toothpick comes out dry.

 10. Voila! Serve with berries.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

History of the Recipes

I don't think anyone can truly appreciate this collection of recipes without knowing the family history behind them.  So here goes an extremely condensed history:

Bashka was born in Belitza, Poland (now Belarus).  There, the family had a bakery; or as Bubbe likes to say "we made bagels."  In 1942, the family was relocated to the Zhetel Ghetto (for more information: Zhetel Ghetto).  During the liquidation,  my grandmother and her sister fled the ghetto and survived in the woods until the end of the war.  There they hid under canoes and traded whatever they had on them for food.  After the Nazis were defeated, they made their way over to the US.

Once in the US, my grandmother fell in love with and married my grandfather, a concentration camp survivor. Bubbe now lives in Florida.

These recipes are some of the few surviving pieces of my grandmother's childhood; the rest of it was all destroyed. 

*note: Family: if you have anything you want to add or change. Email me and I'll make the necessary changes*

Why Blog?

My Bubbe (grandmother) has always been secretive about her recipes.  She is known for her sponge cake and apple cake but no one, but her, was allowed to know how to make them.   When I used to help her in the kitchen, she was always sneaky.  When I wasn't looking, she would add ingredients or change the order in which she made things making recreating these recipes nearly impossible. 
Bubbe, Me, and Papa

Recently, my uncle handed me Bubbe's coveted 'recipe book.'  To my surprise, there really aren't any recipes in it.  But, instead, a list of some ingredients, some cook times, and some baking temperatures. 

One of Bubbe's "recipe" books
In an effort to preserve these family recipes, I've decided to start an adventure (or rather a misadventure) in decoding these recipes, making them less secretive, and allowing more people to enjoy what Bubbe is famous for.