The Recipe

My mother was a good cook and had a seasonal baking menu. Spit Cake was one of her summer favorites. Spit cake is made with whole cherries (which should answer any lingering questions about the name of the cake and why this recipe is found in a section about "Deck Food"). The basic cake can also be made with other summer fruits.

Fresh Fruit Cake, aka "Spit Cake"

Hilda dictated this recipe to Lynn before we joined the Peace Corps. The recipe has been copied and re-copied many times.

The dough can be used for a host of other cakes.

 

  • 4-5 whole eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups or 200 grams sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups or 230 grams flour
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cube or 110 grams margarine or butter" (she always used margarine)

 

"Melt the margarine in a cake pan. mix the eggs and sugar (mix well). "Add flour with the baking powder "Add the cooled Margarine "Cover with Streusel

"Bake in a 350F oven for enough time to smell good"

This is a very forgiving recipe but it works even better if you grew up in my home and watched my mother whip these cakes out on a regular basis. So here are a few added pointers:

Before starting the dough, she would rinse the fruit and allow it to dry off on a (fresh, white, thin) towel. With apricots etc., she would split the fruit and remove the pits - never with cherries!

The fruit cake bakes well in a 12"X17"X" pan. My mother would melt the margarine in the pan while the oven is pre-heating ("waste not..."). She would take it out of the oven just as it has melted and would coat the pan with the melted margarine before adding the remaining margarine to the dough.

The corn starch, baking powder and flour are mixed dry before being added to the egg mixture.

The dough is poured into the margarine coated pan. Hilda preferred a lot of fruit and less dough (about 1/2" of dough) and would then place the fruit in very neat and tight rows onto the raw dough. (This made it easier to cut the cake into neat pieces).

Streusel is one of those Central European basics that belong into the "if you have to ask..." category. My mother made it "podle oka", that's Czech for "measured with your eye". You also have to know how to pronounce streusel correctly. I will leave the pronunciation guide to linguists. As for the streusel:

I mix about 1 cup of flour with an equal amount of sugar and then add enough light cooking oil until I have a crumbly mixture (podle oka). The streusel is then "sprinkled" over the fruit with your hand. This must be done very neatly. There must be an even amount of streusel on the fruit cake or the streusel police... The amount of streusel used depends upon the tartness of the fruit. Plums and apricots need more than cherries.

I have been known to mix chopped walnuts into the streusel and use that on apricots and plumbs. This has resulted in severe criticism from my Mother and older daughter.

The dough that peaks out between the pieces of fruit will turn golden brown. A tooth pick can be inserted in those locations and come out clean when the cake is done.

You have to let the cake cool long enough so that the fruit doesn't burn the roof of your mouth - I know that from experience. - George