How to Participate in Grandma’s Bake-a-thon

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, December 5, 1914:  <<no entry>>

Picture Source: Wikimedia Commons
Picture Source: Wikimedia Commons

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma’s growing up. We’ve followed her life daily for the last four years—but she’s slowly losing interest in writing in her diary, and it ends on December 29, 1914. I’d like to use some of the remaining days of this blog to give Grandma a wonderful send-off to live the rest of her life.

So many wonderful memories of my grandmother are linked to food—and I think that if she was still around that she’d enjoy hearing other people’s stories of a holiday treat that they associate with one of their ancestors.

To celebrate Grandma’s transition to the next stage of her life, I’m organizing an event: Grandma’s Bake-a-thon.

To participate in the Bake-a-thon make an old family recipe, and share the story of why this recipe holds special memories for you.

You may want to tell your family and friends the recipe’s story; or share the recipe on your blog or Facebook page, in your Christmas letter, or by writing a comment on A Hundred Years Ago–whatever is most meaningful to you.

If you’re not a baker, you don’t need to actually make anything—just think about a favorite holiday treat and the person that you associate it with—and share the story.

Let the Bake-a-thon begin!

54 thoughts on “How to Participate in Grandma’s Bake-a-thon

    1. The banana cake looks awesome. I can see why you selected it. Yes, I think that bananas were widely available in the US back then–but that they would have been relatively expensive. I believe that they would have come into a US port from central America on a ship–and then transported to small towns across the country via rail.

  1. My daughter will be visiting tomorrow and we will be doing some baking. I’ll think about which of my mum’s recipes I will share and bake it tomorrow. I’m sure grandma will be looking down on your Bake-a-thon celebration with great delight, Sheryl. 🙂

    1. I look forward to hearing what you decide to make. It sounds like you’ll have a fun day tomorrow. (As I write this comment, I realize that it is already tomorrow where you live. 🙂 )

  2. Cherry Almond Cake. My Mother and I would make several batches, Some were small loafs for the neighbours and a big round one for us. Wonderful memories of Christmas,


    1 cup butter 1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 cup almonds 1 teaspoon lemon extract
    1 1/2 cups glazed cherries 1 1/4 cups sugar
    2 1/2 cups flour 4 eggs
    2 teaspoons baking powder 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup milk
    1 teaspoon almond extract

    Preheat oven to 300 degrees

    Slice cherries and nuts (buy almonds already blanched and sliced). Combine 1/2 cup flour with cherries and almonds in bowl. Mix until fruit is well coated.

    Combine remaining flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.

    Cream butter until fluffy, add flavourings. Gradually add sugar, mixing until creamy. Beat eggs until light and lemon-coloured. Add to creamed mixture. Beat together well.

    Add dry ingredients to butter, etc., alternately with almonds and nuts, folding in gently until well combined. Add lemon juice and then milk.

    Turn into prepared tin. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.

    If using small loaf pans (4 will do) bake for 1 hour and then check. Time will vary because of the size of the loaves.

  3. My grandmother used to bake lemon bars for Christmas. I do not have the recipe. She kept her recipes in her head. I have never been able to make lemon bars that tasted as great as hers.

    1. The Lemon Bars sound delicious. It’s too bad that she never wrote the recipe down. My family also has a few elusive recipes that everyone remembers–but no one knows how to make.

  4. Oh my…this picture alone brings back so many memories of my great Frances’s Christmas cookie plates. I’m going to look for the strawberry cookie recipe and give it a try! thank you for sharing your Grandmother’s life with us via her diary and this blog! Much enjoyed!

    1. I’m glad you like it. I have had a lot of fun doing this blog, and it’s wonderful to hear that you enjoy it. The strawberry cookies sound wonderful.

  5. I don’t do much baking any more, but what comes to mind is a favorite unbaked treat that my big brother and I both especially enjoyed — dates stuffed with peanut butter and rolled in confectioners sugar.

    When he was stationed in Europe during WWII I prepared a batch and sent it to him. Sadly some hungry ants got to them first, but my big brother felt his little sister’s love anyway.

    1. I don’t have a particular date in mind–but there are a number of “no entry” days (sigh) between now and Christmas and I plan to include some of the stories/recipes on some of those days. Depending upon what people do, I might possibly reblog a post or two.

    1. Thank you for sharing the link. I can see why the fudge is your favorite food memory. I love how the fudge and the tin have been part of your family’s food history for so many years.

  6. What a great idea! I may turn it into a blog post and share as a link. Hint: it’s not toll house cookies, tho we made those too. Do you want it shared on this post?

    1. Hmm. . . does it have it contain another flavor of morsels? You don’t need to answer until you make them. I like mysteries. Be sure to let me know if you turn it into a post.

    1. Thanks for sharing the link. What a fun, heartwarming story! I love how the pickles became a tradition and a way to remember your Aunt Esther.

      My thoughts are with you. I hope that all goes well, and that the medical issues are resolved.

  7. Oh, my gosh. I do know what it is, and I think I even have the original “equipment.” Now, it’s just a matter of time. But there is a story, and if I can get them to come out right, I’ll post pics, too. But first? It’s time to find the recipe and get some things from the grocery before they all disappear.

    This is wonderful. I’ve been thinking about making these for “old times’ sake” for years, but just never did it. Now, I have a reason!

  8. My sister is bringing over some of my moms butter cut out cookies, my favorites. I can still see mom all covered in flour dust with cookies on the kitchen table cooling off. I loved to help her “cut them out” with my favorite cookie cutters. I will post the recipe after my sister gets here with perhaps a picture. 🙂 Blessings Patty

  9. I’ll be joining my new daughter-in-law and her mother and sister for their traditional Christmas baking session and given my lack of skills will volunteer as chief dish washer! My grandmother in Wales used to always make ‘welsh cakes’ on the griddle for Christmas time…dry, flat little cakes with raisins in them and I used to love them with a cup of milky tea.

    1. The baking session sounds like it will be a lot of fun–and they are very lucky to have you. I always hate having to tackle the pile of pots, pans, cookie sheets, utensils,etc that need to be washed after I have completed my baking. The flat cakes sound delicious.

    1. Sharon- What a wonderful post! I loved reading about the candy cane cookies. I think that we are about the same age. The old clipping with the recipe,the picture of you and your mother in the ’50s kitchen, and the mention of shopping at Acme brought back lots of my own memories.

  10. For Christmas my grandmother always made ‘krumkaker’, a kind of rolled wafer biscuits, looking somewhat like the photo on this page:
    Usually it was one of the last days before Christmas, often on the solstice or thereabouts. It took a bit of time, so you had to plan for it in advance, because as a proper grandmother you had a lot of work to do to get all things prepared for the holidays.

    The ingredients were simple: 4 eggs, 400 grammes of each of flour, sugar and butter. Modern recipes use more eggs, about twice as many. I guess eggs were the hardest to come by in the old days, so they cut back on them a little.

    The batter is made by whipping the eggs and the sugar together, then adding the butter, pre-melted and cooled a little, and finally mixing in the flour. Also pretty simple.

    The baking is the difficult part, and for most of her life, my grandmother would have no interference in the process, because she was very concerned that her biscuits should be of proper quality. They were baked in an iron that got its heat from an oven plate. This oven was electric for as long as I can remember, but in her youth she no doubt used ovens heated by firewood or coke or other means of heating. No thermostat or electronics of any sort, so you had to regulate heating and baking times yourself to make them right. And when they were properly done, you had to quickly roll them around a wooden cone made specially for the task, because they would stiffen fast and only stay rollable for a few seconds. She made several dozens of them and put them in a big box to serve from when she had guests in the holidays and weeks afterwards.

    When my grandmother turned 80, her hands grew slower and she couldn’t stand up for so long anymore, and so reluctantly she allowed me to help her baking the things. The next two years we baked them together, while she instructed me carefully and vehemently. After that, she allowed me to make them alone, apparently accepting me as krumkake-master.

    In 1996 she had to move into a home and the year after, she died, 85 years old. When we took her things out, I secured the iron, the cones, and the box, as well as the recipe and a lot of other recipes. And every December 22nd, I make krumkaker the way she taught me, to serve when I have guests in the holidays and the weeks afterwards.

    1. What a lovely memory! It’s so wonderful that you have the opportunity to make them with your grandmother for a few years–and learn how to make them from the expert. I love how you’ve continued the tradition using her iron and cones.

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