Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Slice of Life #52Stories 22/52: Warmth and Connection and Calories to Last Awhile

I became serious about blogging in 2012 when I started writing a Slice of Life with my students daily in March with Two Writing Teachers. Now eight years later, I'm celebrating a milestone of sorts, my 1,111th blog post. I like numbers, something I inherited from my dad and there's something fun about those repeating ones . Today's post is #22 of 52 stories I'm writing from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life.

I've been participating in a 21 day Family Connections Experiment a family history project inviting individuals to increase their connections with family past and present for a consecutive 21 days. Several days ago, we were prompted to share a favorite family recipe. I decided to wait until I could bake this favorite recipe. This morning Grandson Jack and I read Margaret Wise Brown's The Important Book and I was inspired by this mentor text to write a bit about a favorite family recipe. 

"The important thing about Yum Yum Cake is that it is delicious. It is a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. You take a bite, and it is moist and sweet and full of buttery chocolate goodness. It fills a big pan and feeds a crowd. But the important thing about Yum Yum Cake is that it is delicious." (with gratitude to Margaret Wise Brown for the format)

This recipe is one that I grew up eating at church potluck dinners. Our cousin, Dora Lea, often brought it to these events, and we always looked for it tucked among the desserts. I don't remember my mom making it very often when I was a child. However, at some point she started making it too, and it became a staple in her funeral dinner repertoire. When I went to college, my mom began serving in the youth program at our church and this dessert was a favorite of the teenagers. She used to say, "If I had a five dollar bill for every time I've baked that cake, I'd be a rich woman." 

When I moved to Texas as a young mom, I was startled to learn that our favorite recipe for "Yum Yum Cake" was known in those parts as "Texas Sheet Cake." I've never been able to figure out where the title Yum Yum Cake came from, but I just always told my friends that there was no way that someone from Oklahoma would be baking and serving a Texas sheet cake. 

One other memory of this dessert staple happened on a Saturday, around noon when I was heading home from a morning of errands. As I pulled up to the stoplight at Island Crest and 40th Avenue, I noticed cars at the church. "Hmmm, what's going on at the church on a Saturday?" I mused. And that's when I remembered the dinner being hosted by our congregation after a funeral. And that I had signed up to bring a dessert. I flew home, opened my cupboards, and made a Yum Yum Cake in record time. It bakes for just 20 minutes and you can make the frosting while the cake bakes. I arrived with a cake warm from the oven just as the family was starting to browse the dessert table. 

I baked a Yum Yum cake yesterday. Pieces of it have gone to five homes and there are still a few slices in the freezer. Not many, mind you, because this cake lives up to its Oklahoma moniker, Yum Yum Cake! Even when it's in the freezer it's hard to resist. And the memories that accompany its creation provide warmth and connection and calories to last awhile.


  1. I have eaten this cake at many church potlucks... easy to imagine it being called Yum Yum cake since it certainly is.

  2. I read your post earlier today on my phone, as it was in need of a charge,and love the idea of maintaining family stories. I think your recipe is pretty incredible too.

  3. I love the part about how it couldn't be called a Texas Sheet cake because you are from Oklahoma. I also liked the part where you are driving by an event and realize you are connected with it. Thanks for sharing the mentor text. Love your wit and I can smell the chocolate.

  4. I love this project of yours and especially enjoyed the Yum, Yum cake journey from Oklahoma to Texas to Washington. Ramona, would you please send me that recipe? (I hope it is not one of those secret family recipes.) My Mother used to bake special occasion cakes. This weekend, I am hosting 4 dear friends on my patio that has two sets of tables (we will be socially distancing). I would love to make that cake with the frosting. My Mother could decorate the cake beautifully but I still to adding sparkly sprinkles to top my frosting. Chocolate cake is my go-to love.

  5. Some tastes trigger strong memories. I like that your food memory is sweet. Happy blog milestone!