My readers are pleading for the recipe to Aunt Mary’s German chocolate cake

“Give it to them,” my aunt said sweetly. But not before I’ve told them about the heart of the woman whose hands baked our family’s cakes for years.

SHARE My readers are pleading for the recipe to Aunt Mary’s German chocolate cake

“Dear Mr. Fountain, Not fair to tantalizingly describe this mouth-watering cake and not provide the recipe! Have mercy!” — A reader

It’s a family secret — my sweet Aunt Mary’s triple-decker German chocolate cake, to which generations of the Hagler family clan were treated on holidays made sweeter by her culinary majesty. It’s a secret. Period.

But inquiring minds want to know…

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In fact, the discovery recently of the next best thing to Aunt Mary’s German chocolate cake— baked by a friend also named Mary — prompted me to share a literary slice. My cake chronicles apparently also tantalized the palates — and stoked home-baked holiday memories — of a few readers. Some of them were moved to inquire about the fine details of Aunt Mary’s recipe.

A reader writes: “Would u share the recipe? Thanks”

Another writes: “I would love to try your recipe.” Signed, “Viola”

“Huh? Really?” I thought. “No can do.”

But the requests kept coming, eventually softening me up like Aunt Mary’s sweet dinner rolls.

Writes another: “Could you please send a copy of the recipe to me, including any hints she included along the way? I will pay you for the recipe…”

Hmmmm. Pay me for the recipe? The thought tickles my ears.

Yet another request: “This article makes me want to bake this cake from scratch for my husband. He loves German chocolate cake. I love peach cobbler and was wondering if there is a way to get these two recipes?Is there a cookbook? Thanks for any information… Mary”

“Mary?” Like Aunt Mary? Really? Uh-huh, and my name is Joe.

But a cookbook by Aunt Mary and me? Hmmm… Between the recipes, we might even share the stories and reflections behind the dish, like the fact that Aunt Mary told me that her baking mastery was birthed out of necessity once upon a time when the family was low on funds.

“We didn’t have money to eat out,” my aunt, now 82, told me this week. “So we just learned to cook whatever they made at restaurants.”

But I digress.Part with her recipe?

You wouldn’t ask a barbecue rib master for the secret to his succulent baby backs or the ingredients of his finger-licking sweet and tangy sauce. Isn’t the formula to Coca-Cola still a closely guarded secret?

The various pinches, dashes, sprinkles and combination of spices that blend into family perfections passed down through generations are sacred gems: cakes, pies and assorted dishes that make life sweeter, and the seasons of life, love and family everlasting.

Honestly, Aunt Mary did bequeath to me her recipe some time ago during my career travels when I was far from home. Over the telephone, she divulged her cake ingredients and her process with the care and cadence of a surgeon.

I used to bake “my version” of Aunt Mary’s German chocolate cake. But I ceased over time, fearing that I would grow as big as a house.

Years ago, my wife transcribed Aunt Mary’s recipe on a small piece of paper. She stored it in a black binder that she recently told our two young adult children, as they helped her prepare Thanksgiving dinner, will be theirs someday.

Aunt Mary’s recipe is still stored there, somewhere between the pages and clippings of endless recipes over the years — for assorted curries of chicken and rice, Jamaican jerk chicken, “Perfect Apple Pie,” and my wife’s own, shall I say, infamous meat loaf “muffins.”

But again, I digress… I told Aunt Mary that inquiring minds want to know her German chocolate cake recipe.

“Give it to them,” she said sweetly.

It would be my honor. But not before I’ve told them about the heart of the woman whose hands baked our family’s cakes for years and filled our lives with sweet goodness. Mercy!

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