A Cake of Celebration: A Celebration of the Early Settlers of North Carolina
The Moravians, a German speaking religious sect, came to this country for an area called Morava (in the German Language – Mähren) which is now located in the Czech Republic. They came here seeking religious freedom and settled in the area around Winston-Salem, NC. Their first settlement in 1753 was named Bethabara; a latter settlement named Wachovia, now known as Old Salem, was made to accommodate the expanding population of Moravians. They brought with them many traditions in both food and culture however one of their recipes stands out as a favorite of mine. It is called Zecker Kuchen or Sugar Cake in English. This rich and most delicious cake, usually made around Christmas time, although it can be enjoyed anytime. At the Putz, held each year in Old Salem, this delicious treat is still served along with a cup of hot sweet coffee at a festival call the Putz. Each year the Putz welcomes thousands of visitors to Old Salem and gives them a view of the Germanic Christmas celebration. The word Putz means to put or place and it is associated with the Christmas season when these early settlers placed their gifts for Christmas on a special shelve in their homes.
Zucker Kuchen (Sugar Cake)
10- cups of sifted bread flour
1 ¾ – cups of granulated sugar
4 teaspoons of salt
2 – pkgs instant dry yeast
1 ¼ – cups of instant mashed potatoes adding hot water to make 2 cups
1 ½ – cups of Crisco
4 – large eggs beaten
3 cups of hot water
cinnamon and nutmeg
2 – lbs of light brown sugar, more or less
1 lb – butter (no substitute)
- Sift bread flour; add granulated sugar, salt and yeast. Mix in a large mixing bowl
(a large plastic or Tupperware cake saver works well)
- In a large measuring cup heat water in the microwave and add instant potatoes and Crisco.
- Mix the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and then add eggs mixing well. (Eggs should be at room temperature, putting them in warm water will bring them to room temperature.)
- Batter will be like thick pancake mixture and it will be luke warm. Cover with a lid or cloth.
- Dough should rise within an hour.
- Mix dough with a large spoon and spread into 9 (8 or 9 inch) pans. There will be approximately ¾ lb in each pan.
- Sprinkle very, very lightly with nutmeg, enough that you can see it, but not much more and sprinkle with cinnamon according to taste.
- Let cakes rise until double in bulk, about an hour. In the meantime turn oven on 375 degrees F
- Sprinkle brown sugar over cakes covering them. Punch several finger size holes into the cakes and pour melted butter over the cakes.
- Bake 20 Minutes.
Note: You can divide the recipe in half making 4 sugar cakes but you must use 2-pkgs of yeast.