It seemed to me that my Granny, Virginia Phillips, was always sharing food with her friends and neighbors. She would say, “I just can’t make spee-ghetty (spaghetti) without taking a boiler full out to Katherine’s. She loves it better’n anything.” What an act of love and kindness! Just because Katherine loved her spee-ghetty, she always made a double batch. So much of the attitude of being neighborly is gone. Our society has changed, in part, due to the hurried and harried lives that we lead. Also, we are much more transient and sometimes never get to know our neighbors. While our quality of life is much improved over decades passed, there’s much room for improvement in the “being neighborly” category.
I was in my early twenties before I became aware of just how much food sharing Granny did. This made me wonder if she had a responsibility to feed her town. So I asked her why she took food to so many people. Her reply was, “The Lord wants us to be neighborly. And I’m a-gonna do it.” To her, it wasn’t so much a responsibility as a commitment. That’s a much higher calling in my mind. People expect you to fulfill a responsibility. A commitment you fulfill out of the goodness of your heart. That tiny little woman taught me a gracious plenty about goodness. For that, I am evermore grateful. Goodness still exists. I see it around everywhere. In honor of my grandmother and her commitment to being neighborly, I’m sharing a recipe for Friendship Cake. You make a starter for the cake and then share it with your neighbors. I hope some of you will participate. A whole lot of goodness can come out of it.
Y’all come see us.
I’ve had the recipe for the Friendship Cake for over 30 years. It was given to me by a co-worker and I don’t know the origin of it. I had lost the recipe for the starter and was thrilled when I found it printed in The Tampa Tribune in 1990. I don’t have pictures to share with this post. It will be a few months before I make the starter again. You have to stay parked for one week to make the starter and 30 days to make the cake. Retirement has afforded us the ability to “flit around”. I would have to arrange a babysitter for my starter.
Tip: if you are going to do this, I suggest that you have all ingredients handy before you start. You don’t want to wake up on day 20 and realize you forgot to pick up your fruit cocktail and cherries. When it says “Add fruit cocktail and cherries on day 20” it means day 20, not day 21.
Friendship Starter Juice
4 oranges, sectioned and coarsely chopped
2 peaches, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped (1 cup)
2 pears, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped (1 cup)
1/2 cup cranberries or red grapes, halved and seeded
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. Amaretto, pear brandy or brandy
1 package active dry yeast
Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir in yeast. Cover loosely with clear plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Store in refrigerator for at least one week. Stir once a day. Strain off 2 cups (one pint) liquid for starter juice. Remaining fruit and juice can be served over ice cream or layered with pudding for parfait. Do not eat fermented fruit uncooked.
1 pint starter juice
16 oz. sliced peaches, cut in small pieces with juice
16 oz. chunk pineapple and juice
5 cups sugar, divided
10 oz. maraschino cherries, drained and sliced
Pour one pint of starter into a gallon glass jar. Add peaches and juice. Stir everyday for 10 days. Cover jar with saucer and leave at room temperature. DO NOT COVER TIGHTLY.
Add pineapple and juice plus 2 1/2 cups sugar. Stir for 10 more days. The color will change and the fruit will foam as you stir it.
Add maraschino cherries, drained. Add 2 1/2 cups sugar. Stir everyday for the final 10 days. The cherries will give back the pink color.
You are ready to share your starter and bake a cake your starter. Drain the fruit, pour into three pint jars. Keep one and share two. Cake must be started three days after receiving the starter. If you have a friend or neighbor with whom you want to share the cakes but don’t feel they will want to follow through with the 30 day process for making the cakes themselves, then bake the cakes for them and deliver. But, that means that you will have to start over with making more starter before you can start baking more cakes.
Ingredients for one cake:
1 box Duncan Hines Golden Cake mix
1 box vanilla instant pudding
2/3 cup cooking oil
1 cup fruit, drained
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pecans
1 cup raisins
1 cup coconut
Mix first ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch tube or bundt pan. Bake in a 300 degree preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours or until toothpick comes out clean.