Posted by: jeannineatkins | August 16, 2009

Bad Jane’s Chocolate Cake (and other cakes)

Yesterday was a perfect sunny day and I’d been invited to a barbecue by my childhood friend Joy. Her family were like relatives to mine. In summer we shelled green beans or husked corn on their steps, while white sheets, smelling of Tide, hung from the clotheslines. We were sometimes allowed to play under these as tents while we drank lemonade. We collected tiny blueberries in Dixie cups by the lake during that hour after lunch when we weren’t allowed to swim.

Joy took some of us out in a boat and we talked about her mother who died this spring. She spoke of taking her out this boat last summer where she had a terrific time, then driving her home, and asking her, “Mom, what did you do today?”

“I think I was in my program.”

“No, we rode in the boat.”

“Joy, I think you did that.”

Marguerite forgot a lot of things, but never how to laugh. And she made sure she got dessert, asking lots of questions about maple walnut ice cream, which sometimes became a meal, throughout the day. So when I headed to the barbecue, I made a lemon cake. Joy showed me her mom’s old measuring cups, with the measures extremely faint, in her cupboard. One of Marguerite’s peers told me of going over her mother’s recipes collected from people now long gone, most of which were tagged with women’s names. I listened to an ancient scandal, wondering where this story was going, and it ended with the recipe that had once been Jane’s Chocolate Cake being handed down as Bad Jane’s Chocolate Cake.

Marguerite’s grandniece, one of three twelve year olds at the barbecue, made this lavender colored cake, her first attempt with piping (notice I sprinkle on confectioner’s sugar and some berries; frosting is hard!) Purple is M’s favorite color – notice dress – so why not frosting? This was practice for a cake she plans to bake for the county fair next weekend. I hope she gets a ribbon, but can you imagine her looking any prouder?



  1. IShe already has a prize-winning smile, and she should get a ribbon for her cake, just on principle. 🙂
    And I so want a cake named after me. Wouldn’t that be fun?!

  2. The cakes both look delicious and M is simply beautiful!

  3. I LOVE this post, but I’m sure you’ve got the name of the cake wrong. It should be Bad Jama’s Chocolate Cake. Either way, M in her purple glory with her love of frosting have made me very happy today:).

  4. I’m so hungry right now that everything on that counter looks yummy and I don’t do fruit. LOL
    I’d say her practice cake is a winner to me!

  5. I don’t know that this woman told people of her recipe system; maybe somewhere there’s a Melodye cake. The lemon cake is no way my recipe, but I take it’s about to introduced as Jeannine’s lemon cake.

  6. I’m told it’s something to see her run, which I can well imagine with those long limbs.

  7. The secret to her frosting seemed to be a dab of marshmallow fluff added to the regular confectioners sugar and butter. It was delicious as well as pretty.

  8. Yes, dinner was excellent, but I think we were all pretty inspired re dessert! I wish I could have counted the boating as exercise, but no paddling was involved. But sugar was needed for the drive home!

  9. Oh lovely! Your memories sparked my own, of doing the same things in different places.
    Bad Jane’s Chocolate Cake reminds me of a friend’s recipe for Crazy Aunt Lilly’s Tomato Soup Dressing, and the recipe I later found for that dressing, but with the much less memorable moniker of Tomato Soup Dressing.

  10. Marguerite’s grand-niece is gorgeous! ( can’t pipe a single thing.

  11. I’m glad you enjoyed some memories of summer days.
    And Crazy Aunt Lilly’s Tomato Soup Dressing does sound so superior!

  12. I tried to pipe once and failed so miserably I’ve never tried since. But sometimes it looks so gorgeous I think I really should do the get back on the horse thing.

  13. A blue ribbon for M! (And a purple one, too, for good measure. Will have to remember the fluff trick.)
    I think my mom has the same exact set of measuring cups — the ones with the numbers all but worn away.

  14. Awesome cake
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