Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mom's The Word

Que Sera Sera by Doris Day
I absolutely love Doris Day!  Her movies, and, in this case, her music, make me all sorts of happy inside.  And I can't think of Doris without thinking of my mother.  My mother also loves Doris Day and her movies were always welcome in our home while I was growing up.  Mom would always laugh and pshaw the notion when I told her I thought she looked just like Doris Day - a brunette Doris Day, that is.  What do you think?  I mean - just look at that smile!
Since this song was born before I was it has been a part of my entire life.  I love it's message - "What Will Be, Will Be."  It's an admonition of faith.  As long as you do what you feel is right you can have faith that all things will work out - eventually.  That's exactly what my mom taught me.  And, you might have guessed already with all this talk about my mom that today is her birthday.  And I'm sharing another "Mom" food memory in her honor of her day!

Salad Dressing Cake!  Not salad dressing as in Thousand Island or Ranch.  But salad dressing as in sitting next to the mayo in the condiment aisle.  As in Miracle Whip, folks!  
I've already shared my Mom's biscuit recipe with you.  It's a keeper!  But today I want to share "the cake" recipe of my childhood.  I seriously can't remember any other cake.  Thank goodness it's a tasty one!

My mother didn't believe in mixes.  Nay, she despised mixes.  Mixes denoted laziness and my mom would have nothing to do with laziness or being idle!  In fact, I really can't conjure up any image of my mother where she is not being productive or industrious in some way or other - unless she is sitting down and enjoying the company of guests.  

The Salad Dressing cake was my mom's answer to the no-mix mantra.  It's a short-cut cake where the salad dressing replaces the fat and egg in the typical cake recipe.  It's a great recipe to have in your arsenal for those times when you're craving something sweet but - gasp! - have no eggs!  It's a pretty straightforward concoction.  No sifting or "messing around" required.  Mix together dry ingredients, mix together wet ingredients.  Combine the two and, in less than five minutes, your cake is in the oven and you're off to change loads, iron clothes (an ancient practice that is almost non-existent in modern day), dust the furniture, weed the flower beds, sweep the floor, pay the bills, change the sheets, mend the clothes, feed the animals, and all the other tasks my mom could probably complete in the 25 minutes it takes to bake it.  She astounds me with her work ethic.  No moss grows or dust settles on that woman!

As I made this up for today's post and took a couple bites to sample it, the thought of milk came shouting into my brain.  Milk!  I want milk!  This was curious to me because we didn't drink much milk growing up - it was too expensive to keep a family our size supplied with milk.  But, milk was the memory that came flooding back to me.  And, then, the light bulb went on!  We used to place our pieces of cake in a small bowl and create a moat of milk around the outside.  The cake would soak up the some of the milk and we'd take our spoons and eat like little piggies!  Was this one of those kid things - you know, the disgusting food combos you thought were "the best" as a child but wouldn't feed your dog as an adult.  I wondered.  So I promptly put my piece of cake in a little bowl and poured in the milk.  And tentatively tasted.
Oh.  My.  GOODNESS!!!  It is NOT just a kid thing.  This is delicious!  If I had a restaurant, this is exactly how I would serve this dessert!  Hmmm.  Replacing the fat and eggs with salad dressing actually reduces the calories in this cake.  I haven't had breakfast yet.  I'm thinking it just might be a cake-start day!    What a wonderful way to start my productive and industrious day!

Thanks, Mom, for being such a hard worker!  But, most of all, thanks for never making me feel like all the hard work on our behalf was a drudgery.  Thanks for showing me, by example, how fulfilling and satisfying creating a home can be!  Happy Birthday!

Salad Dressing Cake
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
4 T. cocoa powder
2 t. baking soda
1 c. salad dressing (Miracle Whip)
1 t. vanilla
1 c. warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl.  In another bowl, stir together the wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.  Spray a rectangle cake pan and pour the batter in and smooth it out so that is evenly spread.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.  Cool, then top with your choice of frosting.  

I've used a cream cheese frosting and added shaved milk and dark chocolate on top.  I also lined my pan with parchment, leaving the long sides to hang out over the edge so I could lift the cake out after it was frosted and decorated.


  1. Um Yeah....I had some of that....and it was SO GOOD! I should have snagged a second piece while I could. I just didn't want to look like a piggy. Thanks Janice. Yum!

    1. I should have offered the milk option and you'd have been able to taste the wow factor yourself! It was fun having everyone over. We're really going to miss you! And I'm still not over the Hugh Bonneville thing! Ugh!

  2. Grandma always made this for my birthday with creamy french frosting and yes you always need a glass of good cold milk. It has been Uncle Bruce's favorite since we Married. Gee, he found out I could cook, LOL!

  3. i grew up eating this cake and still love it today..only after mom put it in the bowl she would pour warm lemon pudding on it

    1. Warm lemon pudding! That sounds wonderful! Thanks for the great idea!