GoldCake1Clyde and Phyllis Stephens live in Bocas del Toro, just over the mountains from Boquete.  We met them several years ago while visiting the famous landmark, Hospital Point.  This historic site was purchased by the Stephens many years ago from the United Fruit Company, commonly known as “Chiquta Banana”.

Clyde has written several books about living in Panama, his experiences of working in the Panama banana industry and the history of Hospital Point.

While traveling in Florida earlier this year, we visited the Stephens in Tavares, where they make their summer family visits. Clyde grew up in Florida and his boyhood home is on display at the Manatee Village Historical Park in Bradenton.

Here’s a photo of the kitchen in Clyde’s original 1912 home.  Clyde’s grandmother baked this cake in that old oven when he was a boy. You can see the original framed recipe sitting atop the cupboard on the far right of the photo. stevenskitchen

The recipe looked wonderful to me, not only because it was written almost 100 years ago, but the dozen egg yolks caught my eye.  It also seemed strange to use water instead of milk in such a rich cake, and no salt.

In all my internet research, I couldn’t find a similar recipe, not even close.  I had to make Grandma Gates’ “Gold Cake”.

12 egg yolks
2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. water
3/4 c. butter
3 1/2 c. pastry flour
4 level tsp. baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla

Sift flour once . . then measure, add baking powder and sift 3 times.  Sift sugar then measure.  Cream butter, add sugar gradually and cream thoroughly.  Beat yolks until thick and lemon color, add these to butter and sugar and stir thoroughly.  Add water and flour alternately, then flavoring and stir very hard.  Put in slow* oven until raised to the top of the pan and increase the heat and brown.  Bake 40 to 60 minutes in an ungreased mold. *325gold1

I followed the directions as closely as possible, even researching whether I should use the top or bottom of the miniscus.  When I was finished, I had a sink full of 5 bowls to wash.  Grandma Gates’ kitchen sink was outside on the porch.  I could imagine her walking outside to do her dish washing, pumping her water from a hand pump and using lye soap to cut the grease on the bowls.

Plus, she didn’t have my fancy Kitchenaid electric mixer.  It was really difficult to picture her doing this all by hand!  It must have taken her several hours to complete her cake.

But, the results were excellent; the best, tastiest, most delicious “Gold Cake” I have ever tasted.  Grandma Gates probably felt like me - it was well worth all the time and work it took to make it.

Tonight, we’re going to Eric and Jane’s home for a dinner party and we’re taking Grandma’s cake.  I’m sure they will serve it with freshly brewed, fine “Boquete Gourmet” coffee!