Golden Keyes Parsons’s
Moravian Sugar Cake
WHERE HEARTS ARE FREE
While on a research trip to Pennsylvania to the area where my ancestors, the Clavell family, settled in the 1700’s, and where the concluding book of the Darkness to Light series, Where Hearts Are Free, is set, we attended a Clewell (changed from Clavell) family reunion. The series is a fictionalized account of the flight of my ancestors who were French Huguenots (Protestants) from the persecution of Louis XIV’s Catholic government first to Switzerland, then to Germany, and finally settling in the Schuylkill Valley in Central Pennsylvania. The reunion was held at a Moravian Church in Schoeneck, which my ancestors had founded.
I knew not one person there, but saw lots of little old ladies who looked like my mother and my aunts. The food was wonderful, of course, as it is at all reunions, but the dish that stood out to me was the Moravian Sugar Cake that has been handed down for generations. It is a cross between sweet rolls and a cake. It is wonderful as dessert or with coffee in the mornings. It freezes well, but is best warm. Enjoy!
Moravian Sugar Cake
Note: You can also use leftover mashed potatoes for this recipe.
1 large or 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled, peeled, and mashed (reserve cooking water) or 1/2 cup instant mashed potatoes (see note)
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 packages (4 ½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
3/4 cup water reserved from cooking potatoes (or warm water if using instant potatoes) (105-110°F)
4 scant cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter (don’t use margarine)
Approximately ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1-1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1. Grease one 11”x7”x2” pan plus one 8” square pan, or 3 8” square pans.
2. Place ½ cup hot mashed potatoes in a large bowl. Add shortening and sugar and combine. Add beaten eggs and combine. Set aside.
3. In a separate medium bowl, dissolve yeast in lukewarm potato water. Add sifted flour and salt and combine. Mix yeast mixture into potato mixture (it will resemble slightly sticky, lumpy bread dough). Place batter in large bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 20-30 minutes.
4. Pat dough out in prepared pans to 1/2″ thick. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 375°F.
6. Using your thumb or the handle of a wooden spoon, make indentations spaced about 2-3 inches apart, over the entire surface of the dough. Fill holes with plenty of melted butter. (Some may pool on the surface but it shouldn’t be excessive.) Crumble brown sugar very generously over the top, then sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Yield: 10-12 servings