Before I met Dave, I think he would have lived off of Captain Crunch, ice cream sandwiches, Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, and black licorice if left to his own devices. People that know me think I am keeping Dave from sugar for some reason. Maybe this is because he posts status updates on Facebook about how he waited for me to leave for the office before pulling out his Captain Crunch so he could eat it guilt free. Even my mom buys him ice cream sandwiches or chocolate because she thinks he needs a sugar fix.
I rarely eat sweets. I don’t have a taste for them, and quite honestly I feel sick when I eat store bought processed treats. I do however, love a tiny sliver of a good homemade southern seven layer cake. If you can’t have homemade cake, Dean’s Cake House in Andalusia, Alabama is still considered homemade around these parts.
The Seven Layers of Southern Alabama Bliss
Dave’s Great-Grandmother Mertice was from Montgomery, Alabama and was apparently quite the baker. When we got married, his Aunt gave us a recipe file box with some of her famous goodies inside.
Dave remembers her making a caramel cake and a lemon cheese cake specifically. He says that both take so much time to make, to recieve one is to receive a true labor of love.
I don’t have time these days to lovingly labor over a stove making caramel or lemon icing…but I do have time to write a check to Dean’s Cake House of Andalusia, Alabama and have one delivered by a friend.
I took the cake out of the plastic box and placed it on a platter for Dave when he got home from work. I even cut a 1/2″ off the styrofoam plate so when it sat on the platter so you couldn’t tell it was store bought. Dave walked in to door and responded, “You got me a cake from Dean’s!?!” *Note: he’s never had a cake from Dean’s before and only talked about getting one from there* There’s no fooling that man.
Amazingly enough Dean makes a Carmel Cake and a Lemon Cheese Cake. We have wondered if the recipe was close to his grandmother’s since church ladies often shared recipes and Montgomery and Andalusia are not that far apart.
Seven Layers of Lemony Goodness by Dean’s Cake House of Andalusia, Alabama
My friend Stacey’s grandmother owns and operates Dean’s Cake House. I remember the day I found out was her birthday when we worked together at summer camp in high school. She had this massive sheet cake to share with us all in a Dean’s box. I said, “Wow, Stacey! Your cake is from Dean’s?” She smiled, “She’s my grandma.” What a lucky duck!
Dave cuts the largest slices of seven layer cake I have ever seen. In my family you are given a 3/4″ skinny long piece. This is the cake after Dave cut 3 pieces! I was shocked at the wedges he cut out for himself and me, but I didn’t say anything and allowed him to enjoy his cake. Up until this day I didn’t even think about the art of cutting a seven layer cake. Maybe my family cuts the cake slices so small because there are so many of us around and only so little cake. My granny has always cut cake that way, but there were always 10 people around at any given time in and out of her house.
I can’t share these pictures of this beautiful cake with you though and not share Great-Grandma’s sacred recipe for making your own labor of love. So here it is, probably the first time it’s been shared online. I wasn’t told it was secret though, so you all get to benefit from that ;)
Mertice’s Lemon Cheese Cake Recipe
What’s interesting about a Lemon Cheese Cake is there’s no cheese in the cake. It’s named that simply because it looks like a huge cheese wheel…at least that’s what Dave told me. Leave it to a southern to name it that.
The recipe doesn’t go into how to bake the different layers, but to make a seven layer cake you need a 9″ round cake pan, preferably several round cake pans. You put a thin amount of batter, say 3-4 tablespoons into each pan and bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until done. Repeat until you have your desired amount of layers.
When you ice the cake, just ice in between each layer and then coat the whole cake with a icing on the outside when the cake is assembled.
My brother once asked someone to make him a 13 layer cake when he was 7 years old, not being sure how many layers he should ask for. The lady laughed, promised him she would, made it, and then swore up and down that she would never make a 13 layer cake again since it took her several hours to complete all 13 layers.
3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cup sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoon baking powder
6 egg whites beaten stiff (add last)
Icing Ingredients: (This icing is more like a glaze then a true icing.)
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
juice and grated rind of two lemons
1) Mix all ingredients for cake except egg whites.
2) Beat egg whites and fold into cake mixture.
3) Bake at 350° until when a toothpick is stuck in the center of the cake it comes out clean (Sorry, I can’t be more specific. That’s what the recipe says)
1) Mix all ingredients and cook over medium heat until thick. Stir to keep from sticking or cook in a double boiler