Cake Oil

In my old home town, certain ladies were known to have the best recipe for, say, a coconut or 9-layer butter cake, Lane, Sally Lund, or what have you. When having a big holiday dinner or entertaining guests from out-of-town, you’d call up these good souls, commission the cake and it would be ready for you on the day.

We also had June Ann Willoughby, who you’d call to make a Mickey Mouse cake for a children’s party or a groom’s cake in the shape of his favorite hunting dog. She also created naughty cakes for bachelors’ and bridesmaids’ parties. A friend of mine swore she had a cast of her breasts made for June Ann to bake a cake in. “We had to use an ice cube on the nips to get them to come out right,” she said.

June Ann’s crowning achievement was a cake that replicated a 1957 De Soto Fireflite Sportsman for Wayne and Alice Bryant’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. It was the very car that Wayne drove to pick Alice up in on their first date, and (according to Alice) the one in which Wayne, Jr.—who was mayor at the time and present at the party—was conceived , “Though not THAT night, of course!” she added. The cake was big enough to feed over fifty people and the icing she used was a glassy, high-gloss glaze.

The De Soto cake was of surpassing beauty, as well as a technical achievement.  She had Willie Duvall, who used to be a mechanic, to help her with the cardboard mold, but what amazed me is how she got each section of cake to separate so easily. The surface of the frosting was impeccable, which could only be achieved on a flawless surface.

“Honey, I use cake oil,” she said. “What you do is you mix one part shortening, one vegetable oil, one part sugar, and one plain flour into a paste and brush that on the sides of your cake mold. You don’t have to fuss with dusting or anything. I make a quart of it at a time and keep it in the refrigerator, but you can keep it in the cabinet just as good. Lasts forever.”

 

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