Here's an email conversation I had with my sister, Heather, a few months ago.
Heather:Why don't you make Washington Pie. I should have suggested it back in September. Mom said that was Dad's favourite cake....you remember two layer white cake with raspberry jam in the centre, covered in icing (vanilla) and coconut - served with ice cream! Mom was making that up in her eighties. (Or keep it for next September Dad's birthday).
Lois: Ha, ha. That is actually on the agenda. Maybe, I will keep it for Dad's birthday. Wish I had thought of it sooner. I may make it sooner though, and keep it to publish next Sept. My mouth is watering thinking about it. I'm hungry, lol. You don't know what cake mom used, do you. I have several white cakes that can be used.Heather: No, I don't know but I would say it only had two, three eggs - it wasn't a 'tall' cake. The only other memory regarding that cake, Mom would sometimes buy a sponge cake and dress it up when we would go to Bowring Park for dessert. Remember the two metal plaid picnic 'baskets'? They were too heavy for me to carry. Plastic plates, cutlery, potato salad, head of lettuce, package of tomatoes, tin of mixed vegetables, salad dressing, maybe a tin of beans, full loaf of bread, block of butter, bread knife, wax paper, serviettes, a bottle of drink, salt shaker and probably that cake or Dad's cookies, and some bars.....then we would get a custard cone at the Bungalow. Not to mention the bags that contained towels, underwear, extra socks, tops, slacks and sweaters. (We used to wear our bathing suits under our clothes). And always in her purse a bar of soap and a face cloth....
Heather: I forgot to mention the table cloth!!!
Lois: You've got a memory like an elephant! What wonderful picnics we had at the park. And all that was dragged to the bus and through the park.
Heather: I guess Mom and you carried the 'baskets' in. We had beach bags each, remember?
Lois: I vaguely remember the beach bags. What did they look like? Can you remember?
Heather: I remember I had a blue cylinder shape with a beach scene...teenagers playing with a beach ball under the sun? No sure something like that. You had one too, probably pink!
I'll have to translate a few of the terms used:
custard cone: soft serve ice cream
Bowring Park: Beautiful park in City of St. John's, NL
Bungalow: "Ever since its erection in 1915, the Bowring Park Bungalow has been a popular meeting place for park patrons. In its early years, people would gather there to warm themselves by a roaring fire after a day's ice skating. For many years, a canteen was in operation, providing cool refreshment on hot summer's days. Also, the front lawn of the Bungalow has always played host to numerous concerts and festivals annually, attended by countless happy visitors. The lawn is also quite popular for sun bathing and family picnics, all amid a lush carpet of grass and many blue chip trees." Read more at: http://www.nfld.com/tourism/bowring/history.htm
And with that conversation I could bring you recipes for a whole picnic menu. But, today I'm going to make a Washington Pie which isn't pie but a cake. As my sister reminded me, it was Dad's favourite dessert and I remember eating this after many a meal, especially on the weekends. Today, my Father would have been 105 years old. I wish he had lived longer. He was only 64 when he passed away and I miss him even today.
Back to the Washington Pie. Traditionally, Washington Pie is a white or yellow cake or sponge cake filled with jam and dusted with powdered sugar. But not so at our house. Washington Pie would not have been served with such a simple topping. Mom always spread hers with a thick slathering of a vanilla buttercream icing with a generous sprinkling of coconut to top it all off. As a child I never appreciated Washington Pie but now it sounds like a gourmet treat.
1 recipe of sponge or yellow cake, or use the recipe below
½ cup jam, raspberry, strawberry or apricot
Vanilla Buttercream Icing, recipe follows
¼ cup flaked or shredded coconut
This delicious Yellow Cake recipe makes two medium height layers of cake. The original recipe is from the Canadian Living Magazine website. You can bake it in one deep-sided pan (for 30 minutes) and split into layers but it's easier to assemble if baked in two pans. You will have two layers either way.
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cups sifted and remeasured cake flour
¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8 or 9-inch cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment or waxed paper and dust with flour.
In large bowl, beat butter until light and pale, about 2 minutes. Beat in sugar, half cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each one is added. Beat in vanilla.
In separate bowl, sift or whisk together cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. With beater on low mix the flour mixture into butter mixture alternately with milk. Scrape into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack; peel off paper. Let cool. (The original recipe can be found at: Canadian Living.)
Vanilla Buttercream Icing
1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons soft butter
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk
Cream the sugar and butter together. Add the vanilla and enough milk to make a spreadable consistency.
To assemble the Washington Pie: Spread the jam on the top of the bottom layer of cake. Lay the top layer on and spread only the top of the cake with the Vanilla Buttercream Icing. Sprinkle coconut on top of the frosting and gently press in. If you find there is too little or too much jam or frosting adjust the amounts.
Start the cake by creaming the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar a half cup at a time beating well after each addition. Then add the eggs one at a time beating each one well into the sugar and butter. Don't forget the vanilla.
While the butter and sugar are beating measure the cake flour and sift it. Then remeasure the sifted flour once again. You will see that you won't use all of the cake flour the second time you measure. Because cake flour is quite lumpy and dense sifting aerates and breaks up the lumps giving a larger volume of flour.
Mix the remeasured cake flour, all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder together. You may use a whisk or it can be sifted together.
Once the butter, sugar and eggs have been beaten and creamed together, add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix the flour and milk on the lowest setting of your mixer.
Divide the batter into two prepared 8 or 9-inch pans and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
When the cake is baked, let rest 10 minutes and then turn out on cake cooler.
Once the cake is completely cooled place one layer on a serving plate and spread with your favourite jam. Use homemade jam if you have any.
Place the second layer on top of the jam and spread with a thin layer of Vanilla Buttercream Icing. Sprinkle with flaked or shredded coconut. Toasted coconut would make a lovely presentation as well.
See that lovely tender crumb.
The cake is best served the same day it's made but will hold up nicely for another day or two if stored in a tightly sealed container.
Save a piece for me!