Here’s what I know about Mrs. Gump: (1) she lived in Cedar Falls a looooong time ago when my grandma worked as a switchboard operator at the University of Northern Iowa; (2) she was known for her chocolate cake.
I was hangin’ with my grandma a few months ago when she began raving about Mrs. Gump’s chocolate cake. This was my introduction to Mrs. Gump. Now, we’re good friends. I call her Gumpmeister. She calls me Sport.
This cake clearly stood the test of time for my grandma. According to my very weak mental math calculations, she would have had her first taste of Mrs. Gump’s cake over 70 years ago. My grandma doesn’t always remember my name, so any cake with this kind of impact is worth a 2011 revival.
So, I did what any self-respecting granddaughter would do: I stole her recipes when I helped move her to assisted living. And I found Mrs. Gump.
I then stuck Mrs. Gump in the front of the recipe box and decided to make the cake for my grandma’s 93rd birthday. Because nothing says “Happy 93rd” like Mrs. Gump’s chocolate cake.
I began the cake-making endeavor at about 9 p.m. the night before my grandma’s birthday. I looked at the recipe card and realized Mrs. Gump did not put a lot of detail in her recipes. The little index card had a list of ingredients, but that’s about it. That Mrs. Gump sure isn’t a hand-holder — she’s more like a “throw you in the fire and see if you come out smelling like cake” kind of gal. I can respect that.
I sought additional cake-making guidance from my mom. She won the Betty Crocker award back in the day, and I thinks this means she knows important cake bakin’ stuff.
I persevered. And I trashed my kitchen.
*[Note: sometimes portions of my blog get eaten by the mysterious world of computers. This irritates me. A lot.]
And now…the rest of the story.
Here’s what Mrs. Gump did to my kitchen:
I recruited Santa to help, but I soon realized he knows much more about cookies than cake.
And, at approximately 11:30 p.m., I realized I needed more sugar, cream of tartar, and crushed pineapple (the surprise layer of the cake). I was wearing my camouflage long underwear bottoms. Most people would have pulled on some sweats or jeans — I did not. I decided to travel to Hy-Vee and be the late-night shopper who is invisible from the waist down (I had camo pants — get it?).
I came back home, finished the cake, and learned two very important lessons:
1) 7-minute frosting takes at least 10 minutes; and
2) One should not attempt to read a cookbook while mixing 7-minute frosting on high. One might get 7-minute frosting on one’s ceiling. And ceiling frosting is never a good thing for a short person.
BUT — after my cake trials and tribulations — I present (drumroll)…
A cake that looks fairly non-impressive. I should have added sprinkles. Or gold shavings. You’ll just have to take my word — the baking process really was slightly complicated.
I delivered Mrs. Gump’s cake to my grandma at her assisted living home. She was super excited — she didn’t eat a piece right away, but she force-fed one to my uncle as soon as the cake hit the table. I’ll take that as a compliment.
All in all, it was a Gump-tastic experience.