Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Cake Club: Delicious Desserts and Stories from a Southern Childhood

The Cake Club: Delicious Desserts and Stories from a Southern Childhood

by Susie Quick

See All Formats & Editions

Hardworking. Loyal. Outspoken. Ahead of their time. Hilarious. The "Fancy Frosters" of Charleston, West Virginia, were a close-knit and devoted circle - a merry band of Southern women who got together once a month to swap recipes and stories, to cook and bake together, to celebrate friendship and have some hearty laughs...and of course to eat.

Food editor and


Hardworking. Loyal. Outspoken. Ahead of their time. Hilarious. The "Fancy Frosters" of Charleston, West Virginia, were a close-knit and devoted circle - a merry band of Southern women who got together once a month to swap recipes and stories, to cook and bake together, to celebrate friendship and have some hearty laughs...and of course to eat.

Food editor and cookbook author Susie Quick's mother Emma was a member of this very special circle of sisters, aunts, cousins, and friends. Susie grew up to be a sophisticated "foodie," but she never forgot the great homemade desserts and ingenious creativity of these talented and delightful home cooks.

The Cake Club collects their most prized recipes for southern desserts, along with those of Susie's other colorful friends and relatives - all presented with their original homespun flair combined with the author's modern simplicity and style. The book includes seventy-five recipes for cakes, pies, cobblers, crumbles, cookies, candies, and other treats, plus a chapter of "Lady Food" that's sure to make a lady out of any cook.

From the very first recipe ("Funeral Cake") to Brown Sugar Pound Cake, Tunnel of Love Chocolate Macaroon Bundt Cake, Blackberry Bread Pudding, Emma's Molasses Crinkles, Minnie Pearl's Chess Pie, and the other treasured creations in this book, The Cake Club will entertain, inspire, and bring back memories of an earlier era. With stories like "A Good Man Really is Hard to Find" and "Driving Miss Minnie," photographs, and voices from several generations, this unique and delightful cookbook pays tribute to the healing power of friendship, shared recipes, and a delicious piece of cake.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
When Quick, food editor of Health magazine, was growing up in West Virginia, she and her sister would compete to see who could take a "sick day" when their mother was hosting the monthly Fancy Frosters Cake Club lunch. In her latest book, Quick reminisces about cake club meetings and other such events, while also providing old-fashioned desserts from her family and friends, from her great-grandmother's Powdered Sugar Pound Cake to her mother's Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes. It's somewhat disconcerting, with this homey background, to find that the first recipe-Funeral Cake-is made with a cake mix and Cool Whip. And while some of Quick's stories are entertaining, she's no James Villas (My Mother's Southern Desserts). For larger baking collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Sold by:
File size:
3 MB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

The Cake Club

Delicious Desserts and Stories from a Southern Childhood

By Susie Quick

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2004 Susie Quick
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-6711-6


Cakes from the Club

Funeral Cake (Coconut–Sour Cream Layer Cake)
Coconut Filling and Frosting
Powdered Sugar Pound Cake
Different Poppy Seed Cakes
Orange Glaze
Brown Sugar Pound Cake
Penuche Frosting
Twenty-Minute Sponge Cake
Caramel Glaze
Butter Layer Cake
Lemon Whipped Cream Frosting
Opal's Date-Nut Applesauce Cake
Oatmeal Pan Cake with Broiled Pecan-Coconut Topping
Sister Nell's Prune Spice Cake
Brown Sugar Frosting with Walnuts
Kay's Carrot Cake with Pineapple and Coconut
Cream Cheese Frosting
Yellow Cupcakes
Peanut Better and Jelly Frosting
Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes
Fudge Icing
Chocolate Chip–Coffee Chiffon Cake
Coffee Frosting
Chocolate Buttermilk Layer Cake
Dark Chocolate–Orange Frosting
Mother-in-Law Cake
Mocha Buttercream Frosting
Kid-Friendly Mother-Approved Coca-Cola Sheet Cake
Coca-Cola–Chocolate Frosting
Tunnel of Love Chocolate-Macaroon Bundt Cake
Aunt Martha's Hickory Nut Cake
The Cake Club's White Fruitcake

Meet the Cake Club

Once a month my mother's Cake Club met at our house. Their official name was the Fancy Frosters Cake Club, but that got shortened early on. Club day was one filled with sticky icing, gooey gossip, and (best of all) food.

I loved both eavesdropping on the women and devouring the lunch for it was a potluck of great repute. My sister and I would often vie to see who could lay claim on being sick first, so we could miss school on club day. Since I had the more licentious nature, I usually beat her to the punch and became an expert at plotting mysterious ailments that always managed to convince my mother that the world would be a lot safer with me at home, in bed. Since it couldn't be anything gastrointestinal (which would preclude me from eating), I had to be creative. There were dramatic fainting spells but these had to be rationed to remain effective. My true Joan Fontaine moment involved falling out of bed while appearing to be asleep.

(Note: This particular stunt takes some preparation, so plan ahead.) Here's how it's done: tuck all the sheets and blankets neatly under the mattress. Then slither your body inside the cocoon. Begin to angle yourself forty-five degrees so that you slowly slide out of bed — headfirst — while still keeping the rest of your body inside the bedclothes. The important thing is to make it look real. Once you're in place, close your eyes and wait. What will likely happen is your mother will enter and be immediately appalled to see her darling child with her head on the hard floor and sinuses draining the wrong way for God knows how long. She kneels and gently shakes you (usually there is concern in her voice). You "awake" moaning at the horrid headache you undoubtedly have. (Once, this actually happened and my nose bled like a headless chicken so it was a precedent I took advantage of many times until it lost its shock value.)

But back to the club and more importantly, lunch. The thing that made club day food so special was that it was not the normal everyday fare, by which I mean beef stew, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, pork chops and gravy, etc., etc. This was Lady Food, all delicate and precious, arranged on pretty plates and just begging to be eaten. There was fresh parsley in the recipes rather than dried, and radish roses and carrot curls accessorized the platters.

The buffet generally consisted of casseroles and congealed salads that slithered from Jell-O molds just before serving. Finger sandwiches with the crusts trimmed and freshly brewed iced tea with mint leaves were not uncommon. Hot canapés emerged from our oven, which had never happened before. It was party time at our house and it wasn't even a holiday. My mother brought out her best tablecloth and napkins for the occasion, linens my brothers had never even seen, let alone rested their elbows upon. And a cut-glass punch bowl with glasses that I didn't even know we owned. Lunching with the ladies this way was my first real brush with elegance and it made me feel years older.

Best of all, there were desserts. It was like the Pillsbury Bake-Off (in more ways than one), only better because everything was made from scratch. Beneath their sweet exteriors the cake clubbers were stone cold competitors, my mom included. That's probably why everything was its ultimate best. I still remember the peach dumplings my mom's friend, Reva J., brought one day, still bubbling hot from the oven. It's one of the best things I have eaten ever. Pies were a favorite and the crusts were blue-ribbon worthy, never frozen.

On the surface it was all about decorating cakes but what my mother and her friends did not acknowledge was that the Cake Club was a de facto women's group (it was the feminist era, after all). So as one of the women served as instructor, the rest of the members would pump icing flowers and scrollwork on their cakes and share child-rearing tips, compare the annoying habits of their spouses, and address any current events that deserved commentary. Most of them were pretty liberal in their belief that women were superior in all the important ways, and that the key to a successful marriage was managing your husband well. None of them had a particularly easy life — no country club memberships or trips to the salon for a pedicure for these homemakers. One theme was common: that husbands were good for some things (fixing appliances), but hopeless at others (any kind of cooking, helping with the children, and generally gabbing about life).

It could get rowdy at times. Elaine was the first woman I knew who openly dyed her hair and was nicknamed the sexpot. One day she showed off her new push-up leopardskin bra in my presence. It was inspiring — the first I had ever seen and a far cry from Emma's tame white Cross Your Heart. Elaine cracked her gum and painted her toenails coral to match her lipstick, all of which seemed to team perfectly with the animal-print lingerie.

The women were a little less bawdy than they might otherwise have been due to the presence of Betty, a Nazarene who always wore a tight bun and long-sleeved dresses, (the lengths of which were closer to the ankle than the knee) even in the heat of August. Schooled in the classic Wilton method, Betty strolled about the room correcting everyone's form on puffs and scrollwork, the subtleties of multi-petaled daffodils and roses, and so forth as they progressed toward more advanced artistry like fondant and marzipan fruits.

I loved all the ladies but my very favorite was Mildred who, simply put, knew how to laugh at herself and at life (which was not so common if you grew up in Appalachia). Mildred was "a real color TV" my mom would say, and she shared her foibles and predicaments to entertain the girls. A classic story of hers involved a hunting trip she and her husband took in the early years of their marriage. They hiked to the top of a wooded hill where Mildred found a sunny rock to lie on and read while her husband went off in hot pursuit of squirrel. Mildred had a long ponytail at the time. Somehow her husband had gotten turned around in the woods and didn't realize he had circled back. He spotted Mildred's "tail," assumed it was a squirrel, took aim, and grazed her face with buckshot. When he ran up and saw what he'd done he fainted dead away. Mildred hoisted her husband over her shoulder and carried him off the hill to drive them both to the doctor. She still has some of the buckshot in her neck, she likes to point out as proof, for it was too close to an artery to remove.

Another time a man came to Mildred's door about a piano she had advertised for sale. It was Jay Rockefeller (the Jay Rockefeller), the governor at the time. She was in the kitchen washing dishes when she answered the door, not bothering to dry her hands on a kitchen towel. He had a trooper with him and she thought perhaps there was a problem with her taxes. When he told her that he was there about the piano she took his hand and nearly shook it off, saying, "Well, put her there, Governor — dishwater and all!" She invited him in and made him a fried bologna sandwich, which he ate with gusto at her kitchen table. He bought the piano.

My mother — "the Virgo" as the ladies would often point out — was a lean, mean baking machine, and with the practice she received at the club her technique soon reached perfection, which was the goal. Emma went on to teach the craft herself as well as making and selling all sorts of novelty cakes for the community (once she even did a replica of a semi truck that brought the truck company owner to tears). Her specialty was a "bikini cake" in the shape of a woman's torso wearing a pink polka-dot bikini, which she would happily customize if the customer wanted it, even making it topless, or as in one instance I recall, bottomless. She also did beautiful, multitiered wedding cakes, especially for everyone in the family. Our home was always filled with the aroma of cakes baking in the oven. The dining room and kitchen were an obstacle course of cake layers and icing flowers drying on parchment-lined trays.

Emma sometimes entered her cakes at the county fair. My favorite picture of my mom was taken after she won a blue ribbon for one of her exuberantly decorated creations. She is dressed in a blue-and-white gingham pantsuit holding her cake up for the photographer. With her dark curly hair cut in layers and her high cheekbones, she could be Loretta Lynn's sister.

For me the Cake Club revealed the mysteries of womanhood. The house became a different place when it was filled with the laughter and perfume of all the ladies. Family gatherings weren't nearly as much fun and they usually just meant more work with all the cleaning and cooking beforehand and the cleanup afterward. It was rare for the women where I grew up to simply get together for a neighborly visit. They were usually too busy doing housework or tending a garden. Nearly all of them had a house full of children and a few held part-time jobs to help make ends meet. A club meeting with a hobby attached was probably an acceptable excuse in those days and more palatable to their husbands who might have to forgo a home-cooked supper on club day.

The ladies saw each other through a lifetime of ups and downs, illnesses, and death, bound together as they were by butter and sugar, and real friendship. They have remained friends for years and still are, though a few are now in heaven, hopefully eating cake.

Funeral Cake


This is my mother, Emma's, specialty — a supermoist chilled coconut cake she makes for holidays and other special occasions. It is also the cake she alway takes to a home after a death in the family, which is why my sister and I call it funeral cake. You need to start one or two days ahead because both the filling and the frosted cake need to stand for the flavors to fully develop. It starts with a white cake mix. I know what you're thinking — yuck. But I've tried it with a scratch cake and it's not nearly as good. Emma prefers Duncan Hines. I also tried substituting whipped cream for the Cool Whip my mom uses and it was also a failure. So stick with Emma on this and you'll have a really nice cake to show for it.

1 box white cake mix (preferably Duncan Hines)
Coconut Filling and Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with waxed or parchment paper.

Make and bake the cake according to package directions. Transfer to racks and cool 5 minutes. Invert onto racks to cool completely.

Follow directions for filling and frosting.

Makes one 9-inch 4-layer cake

Serves 12 to 16

Coconut Filling and Frosting

1 cup sour cream
1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
3 (6-ounce) packages frozen shredded coconut, thawed
1 (8-ounce) container frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed

Fold together the sour cream, sugar, and 2 packages of the coconut in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Reserve 1 cup of coconut mixture.

To fill and frost cake: Slice cakes in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Place one layer on a plate. Place one-third of coconut mixture on top. Repeat with remaining layers.

Fold the reserved coconut mixture into the whipped topping. Frost sides and top of cake. Sprinkle top and sides with remaining package of coconut. Refrigerate cake 4 hours or overnight. Before serving, allow the cake to sit 20 minutes at room temperature. Keep leftovers refrigerated.

Makes about 2 cups filling or 3 cups frosting

Powdered Sugar Pound Cake

My maternal great-grandmother, Ora Mae Akers, baked her pound cakes in a coal stove. It was she who taught my mother the secrets of cake baking. Ora knew exactly how much heat to build up in the stove (coal burns very hot) and how long it would take for a pound cake to bake in the ring-shaped iron pan. (All the baking pans then were iron as it could best distribute the fluctuating heat of coal or wood fires.) Her cakes probably could not be replicated with today's ingredients; they were made with fresh butter and buttermilk from the family's dairy, and homegrown eggs.

This pound cake is a lighter version with a very fine texture. My mother often makes it when I visit, and it's one of my favorites, especially as a base for peach or strawberry shortcake.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar, sifted (plus additional for sprinkling over cake)
6 large eggs
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan.

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl with sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape sides and beaters and beat in vanilla.

Stir together the flour and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, a third at a time, alternately with the milk. Beat on lowest speed just until blended. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a long wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and edges are slightly pulled away from sides. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan and continue to cool on rack. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Makes two 9 × 5 × 3-inch loaf cakes or one 10-inch Bundt cake

Serves 12 to 16

Different Poppy Seed Cakes

This is Emma's name for a pound cake that's not only different but delicious. Here's what she says about it:

I've been baking cakes for almost sixty years and this is one of my favorites. It's a large, moist cake that turns out right every time. Soaking the poppy seeds overnight makes them tender. It's best if you make it the day before serving.

3 tablespoons poppy seeds
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 ½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Orange Glaze (recipe follows)

Stir together the poppy seeds and buttermilk in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour 10 mini Bundts or one 10-inch Bundt pan. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in zest and extracts. With mixer on lowest speed, beat in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk–poppy seed mixture.

Pour batter into prepared pan or pans. Bake until tops are brown and tester comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes for mini Bundts or 60 to 70 minutes for the large pan. Transfer pans to rack. Cool cakes 10 minutes. Loosen sides of pans with a butter knife. Turn cakes out onto wire cooling racks. When barely warm, drizzle with glaze.

Makes 10 mini Bundts or one 10-inch Bundt cake

Serves 12 to 16

Orange Glaze

½ cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ cup confectioners' sugar

Whisk together all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Drizzle or brush on warm cakes.

Makes about 2/3 cup glaze


Excerpted from The Cake Club by Susie Quick. Copyright © 2004 Susie Quick. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Susie Quick is the food editor for Organic Style magazine. A former food editor and columnist at Glamour and Health, as well as the founding food editor at Real Simple, she has contributed to O: The Oprah Magazine, Bon Appetit, and Self. She is the author of two previous cookbooks, Quick Simple Food and Go Bananas!. Born in West Virginia, she now lives in Kentucky horse country.

Susie Quick is the food editor for Organic Style magazine. A former food editor and columnist at Glamour and Health, as well as the founding food editor at Real Simple, she has contributed to O: The Oprah Magazine, Bon Appetit, and Self. She is the author of several cookbooks, including The Cake ClubQuick Simple Food and Go Bananas! Born in West Virginia, she now lives in Kentucky horse country.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews