Puerto Rican friendship cake
This is one of those times I wish my blog had smell-O-vision functionality; there were some pretty potent sugar fumes emanating from the cake, practically misting up the lens while I took photos.
It's incredibly moist and heavy, but at the same time it's airy, rather than stodgy.
While we tasted the cake, The Boy's mom outlined the recipe:
Combine a can of peaches in syrup, a cup of sugar and a fruit juice such as fresh apple cider (she uses mavi, a lightly fermented drink made from tree bark) in a glass jar. Cover and stir once a day for ten days.
Then add maraschino cherries and more sugar. Allow to sit, stirring every day for another ten days.
Then throw in a can of fruit cocktail and more sugar. Sit and stir.
On the last day (or therebouts; by this time, I was busy trying to calculate sugar content and/or alcohol volume), throw in some raisins. And possibly brandy.
Oh, there were pineapple chunks in there somewhere as well.
Then make up a batch of yellow cake mix from a box, using your new concoction in place of the instructed liquid. And throw the fruit in as well.
Of course, you're not going to use up the entire quantity of liquid in one cake; this is where the friendship part comes in.
You decant the liquid into jars and give them to your best buddies, along with the recipe, so they can make their own moist, potent sugar bomb.
My first question: who came up with this idea? Which ingenious housewife decided, "You know, I bet if I threw together a whole bunch of fruit and sugar and let it sit for a month, it would make a butt-kicking cake?"
The answer had to be online somewhere, right?
Okay, so I couldn't find an individual culprit. But I did find a number of variations on the theme that suggested it may have been originally a German recipe that made its way to the US with the Amish.
And even then, there are two versions of Amish friendship cake: one with the Lord's own fruit cocktail and one with yeast.
Other variations involve the fruit and the yeast. And also, sometimes, instant pudding mix.
Did it arrive in Puerto Rico with some Midwestern army wife? Or brought over by well-meaning missionaries or federal do-gooders? We may never know.
So the mystery deepens, especially as recipes appear on sites around the world, though all with the same basic elements of sharing the sugar rush.
If anyone has any clearer clues, I'd love to hear 'em.