Grandma Stewart's "Pork Cake"

My paternal grandmother, Eunice Stewart, started baking these cakes for the Christmas Holidays around 1940. When Mom (Adell) married Dad (Alvin) in 1945, Mom started helping Eunice bake the cakes and baked them through 1997 (Dad died in early 1998). Needless to say, we used to get lots of visits from the family around the holidays!

They are called pork cakes because, instead of using vegetable shortening, they use ground pork fat. That sounds terrible by today's standards, but remember that lard was used for cooking just about everything that was made in the South in that era. The pork fat is simply an unrendered version of lard. You'll get a funny look from the meat market manager when you ask for a pound of ground pork fat.

A better name would probably be "Preserves Cake".

We've never tried vegetable shortening because we didn't want to risk the cost of the cakes. They are expensive cakes to make. If you have already made some of the preserves during the year, it will still cost (year 2000 prices) about $50 and if you have to purchase preserves the cost is closer to $100 (if you can find the preserves).

Enjoy. And be prepared to work off the extra pounds.

Please note: I helped Mom (Adell) make the cakes, but I've never done them myself. Mom always cautioned to bake slowly. If you try to rush, the cakes will fail miserably. Even though Mom helped me write the following recipe around 2000, a few years before she died, I can't remember using it to actually bake the cakes.

Recipe for Grandma Stewart's "Pork Cake"

In a large pan blend together
1 pound ground pork fat
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
Then mix in
1 cup molasses or syrup
1 to 1-1/2 pints mince meat
Preserves, at least three pints total. Peach, fig, pear, watermelon, fig, etc.
2 cups raisins
Option: 1 bag (about 12 oz?) dates
Option: Gramdpa (Elmer) liked gum drops, but I wouldn't eat the cake with these in it.
Option: 1 pint or more chopped nuts (like pecans or maybe walnuts)
1-1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
When thoroughly mixed add
2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in one pint boiling water
5 cups plain flour plus 1/2 cup flour for each pint of preserves
Pour into two tube pans and bake in preheated oven at no hotter than 250-300 degrees for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.
Hotter than 300 degrees will burn the cakes, making them uneatable because the burning point of the pork fat is just above 300°)

I am an optimist. "A pessimist is a person who turns to the last page of a history book to see how it ends." (definition by Danny Stewart, circa 1980).

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