Black Walnut Cake

photoMerry Christmas! Every Christmas since I can remember, we all enjoyed Black Walnut Cake.  This recipe is actually my great great grandmother’s recipe.  My grandmother would have, Mrs. Jessap, a local friend/baker make it for us.  Her friend had a black walnut tree in her backyard, so it was a very convenient for her to make.  Black walnuts are quite hard to find and can be expensive, but they have an earthier taste than regular walnut and are quite delicious. Here is the recipe below.

3 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup butter

2 cups sugar

2 egg yolks

1 cup milk

white of 3 eggs

3/4 cups Black Walnuts


Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Grease two 9 inch cake pans and set aside.

Whisk together the flour and baking powder and set aside.  Beat the butter and sugar in a separate bowl.  Add egg yolks one at a time. Add milk and flour alternately until all is combined.

Beat the egg white until soft peaks form and then fold into the cake batter.  Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes.


2 sticks butter

1/2 cup maple syrup

3 cups confectioners sugar

Beat the butter and add the confectioners sugar slowly.  Add maple syrup until combined.


Place one cake round on a plate.  Ice the top of the cake and sprinkle with some extra black walnuts.  Place the other cake round on top and ice top and around the sides.

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Mandel Bread

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Mandel Bread is a cookie very similar to the Italian biscotti. Like biscotti it is baked twice and perfect for dipping in tea or coffee. Mandelbrot literally translates to almond bread. So traditionally it would be made with almond slices.  When searching through my Bubbie’s recipes, I came across 3 different hand written recipes for Mandel Bread. She must have made it a lot. My father remembers eating her Mandel bread that was full of dried cherries and nuts.  The recipe that I found of her’s below includes chopped walnuts, coconut, and raisins. I also made a batch with chocolate chips, which were sweet and delicious. I was expecting the cookies to be very hard and dry, like biscotti, however they were surprisingly softer than I expected with just a hint of sweetness.  Here is my Bubbie’s recipe below.

3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 cup oil

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract or half of each

1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans)

1 cup coconut

1 cup raisins

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Sift together flour, baking powder, salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat together eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla (or almond extract).  Gradually add the flour to this mixture, until all is combined.  Grease two cookie sheets.  Grease hands and shape the dough into two loaves.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cook for 10 minutes.  Slice into even slices and bake again for another 20 minutes until the cookies are light brown.


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Whole Wheat Molasses Cookies


We never had a Christmas without my Grandmother’s Molasses cookies. Actually, we had these delicious Pennsylvania German cookies on practically every special celebration and holiday. I remember as a little girl mixing the dough with my grandmommy and putting it in the refrigerator overnight. Then, I would eagerly roll the dough into balls the next morning, cover them in sugar and bake away.  Her tiny kitchen would smell of ginger and molasses.

For my version, I swapped out the sugar for turbinado (or raw) sugar and the all-purpose flour for whole wheat.  It changed the cookie a lot!  My version was softer and more crumbly.  The turbinado sugar also changed the texture.

  Here is the recipe below for my Grandmother’s Molasses cookies, with my changes in Italics.

3/4 cup oil

1 cup sugar (turbinado sugar)

1/4 cup Brer Rabbit Molasses

1 egg

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups sifted flour (whole wheat flour)

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt


Add oil, sugar, molasses and egg to a bowl and beat well.  Sift flour, soda, salt and spices. Add this to the first mixture and blend.  Chill covered overnight. Form into small balls the size of a hickorynut (that is in the original directions, I had to look up what a hickorynut looked like).  Roll the balls in sugar and place on a greased sheet pan.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

My Grandmommy had a tendency to over bake her cookies, so they would get a little hard. If you bake them around the 8 minute mark they usually come out perfectly, crisp yet chewy in the middle.

Give both versions a try. They are delicious!molasses4

Grandmommy’s Molasses Cookies


My version, Whole Wheat Molasses Cookies


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Bubbie’s Potato Latkes


Hannukah has arrived early this year, and in honor of the festival of lights, I made my Bubbie’s Potato Latkes.  I made them with my Father on the first night of Hannukah and he showed me a few of my Bubbie’s latke making tips! Here is her recipe below.

5-6 medium potatoes (we used ones leftover from my father’s garden)

1 small onion

2-3 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

salt and pepper to taste

oil for frying


1.Peel your potatoes.  Using the shredding attachment on your Cuisinart, shred the potatoes and onion.

2. Remove the potato mixture from the Cuisinart and using either a cheesecloth or a clean tea towel squeeze some of the excess moisture out of the potatoes.  You will be surprised how much liquid comes out, however my father was adamant that you should leave some of that liquid in the potatoes, so don’t squeeze too much.

3. Change the attachment on your Cuisinart to the regular blade, and put the potatoes back into the food processor. Pulse until the potatoes are all the same consistency.

4. Add the potatoes to a large bowl and mix in the flour, baking powder, egg, salt and pepper.

5. Heat a large skillet with oil.  When the oil is hot, scoop in a heaping tablespoon of the potato mixture.  My grandmother made them small and crispy.  Brown on both sides and transfer to a baking sheet fitted with a rack, so the oil can drip down.

Serve with sour cream or applesauce. Yum!

In honor of my Bubbie Mary, Happy Hannukah!



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Apple Butter


In my Grandmommy’s refrigerator growing up, there were always a few staple foods.  Homemade marmalade, Lebanon bologna, and fresh Meyers Dairy milk, just to name a few. Around this time of year, there would always be a few jars a homemade apple butter.  She would put it on cottage cheese or toast, but I remember as a kid sneaking into the kitchen and eating it out of the jar with a spoon.

When looking through my grandmommy’s recipes I came across her apple butter recipe.  It is quite time-consuming and I was surprised to find out how much sugar (and corn syrup, ekk) are in it.  However, the end product is delicious. Here is her recipe below.


4 quarts prepared apples

1 quart sweet cider

1 quart water

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup dark corn syrup

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

It was hard to decipher her handwriting!  This recipe takes almost 6 hours to make because you have to cook it down until it is a spreadable consistency.

For my take on this recipe, I did not add any sugar and cut down on the cooking time by using fewer apples and pureeing them in the blender. I left the skin on the apples for added fiber and I also added whole vanilla bean. Here is my yummy recipe:

5-6 medium apples, any type you like

3/4 cup organic apple cider

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 whole vanilla bean, (cut lengthwise, scraped, saving pod for cooking)


1. Core and chop up your apples.

2. Place the apples, cider, cinnamon, allspice and vanilla bean and pod, into a large pot.  Turn heat on medium high and allow the mixture to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the apples are cooked all the way down.

3.  Take the apple mixture off the stove.  Allow to cool and then blend in a food processor or Blender.

4. Add the blended mixture back into your large pot and cook over medium low heat, stirring, until mixture thickens.

5. Spread on toast, baked good, or eat it out of the jar with a spoon!


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