Grandma’s Christmas Cake

Old-Fashioned Version (Newer Version Below)

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup lard (shortening)
  • 3 eggs, separated. Put egg whites in the refrigerator.
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


Sift flour, baking powder and salt three times. Work shortening with spoon until fluffy. Add sugar gradually. Continue to work with spoon until mixture is light. Beat egg yolks with a fork until thick. Add to sugar mixture. Add flour gradually, alternating with milk, beating each time until thoroughly mixed. Stir in vanilla. Bake in two greased and floured 8” round pans. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes* or until a matchstick** stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Cool. Remove from pans. Spread meringue between layers, on the sides and on top of the cake. Sprinkle crushed candy on top and sides. Put in stove and watch it. Take out when candy starts to melt. It won’t take long! Remove from stove and cool. To cut cake, put tip of knife in the center of the cake and tap hand to “break through” light crust of candy on top.

* Grandma Woods baked this cake in unreliable wood-burning cook stoves. She had to watch it closely or it would burn, sometimes on just one side.
** or you can use a toothpick or broom straw (very old-fashioned!).

Meringue (Frosting)

  • 4 egg whites (add one egg to the three whites left over from making the cake)
  • 3 Tbls. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Beat egg whites until frothy. Add vanilla. Add sugar a tablespoon at a time. Beat until stiff. Spread inside layers and over the sides and top of cake.

Crushed Candy Topping

Crush with a hammer inside a dishtowel:

  • 1 large peppermint stick
  • About a cup of ribbon Christmas candy (preferred) or any type of hard candy.

  New Version:

Use any from-scratch or packaged yellow, white or spice cake recipe. Spice cake is extra delicious in this recipe. Bake in two 8” round pans. Cool. Spread New Version Meringue Topping between layers and on outside of cake. Sprinkle crushed candy on top and sides.

Put under broiler and watch constantly until candy begins to melt. If you leave it too long, you could mess up the Meringue Frosting. Remove from oven and cool. To cut, put tip of knife in the center of cake and tap hand to “break through” light crust of candy on top.


Meringue Frosting (new version)

This meringue “frosting” is a delicious, marshmallow-type topping. You can pile it high on pies or on this Christmas Cake.  It’s hard not to sneak a few tablespoons for yourself.

  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Put sugar, egg whites and vanilla in a double boiler. Cook over simmering water, whipping constantly for 3 or 4 minutes or until mixture reaches 140° on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Beat at high speed for 10 minutes or until thick and spreadable. This meringue tastes a lot like creamy marshmallows. The thin crust of melted candy on top is an unexpected treat. Delicious!

Comment: Read how this cake put face-cracking smiles on the faces of nine children in the Christmas of 1936: Christmas in a Sock:
Comment: Photography by Elizabeth Cerza.





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If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B& and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches Spring 2017. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

6 thoughts on “Grandma’s Christmas Cake

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    1. Jodi Lea Stewart Post author

      Thank you, Gregg! This is a blog very close to my heart (for obvious reasons). If you like to bake, you might want to give the cake recipe a try. I suggest using the updated Meringue for the icing. When you pass your fork through that light candy crust into the creamy-sweet meringue, you’ll want to slap your daddy (as they say in the country)! Take it to any gathering and get ready for a clamor of recipe requests. Talk to you soon…

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