Ethel Marbach is an author I really enjoy. Most moms will recognize her by the name Ethel Pochocki and her Bethlehem Books titles such as Once Upon a Time Saints.
Her earlier works as Ethel Marbach are all out of print, but I’ve had fun reading Holy Housewivery: A Do-It-Yourself Handbook and the companion, Holy Housewifery Cookbook. She is a wonderful, humorous writer, with a great grasp of the Catholic faith and traditions and what it entails to be a wife and mother. I’d say she’s a combination of Mary Reed Newland and Erma Bombeck.
My favorite works by her are these tiny series of pamphlets entitled Family Liturgical Customs printed by Abbey Press in the 1960s. They are small, but packed full with ideas. And I was just thrilled to come across this suggestion for an Epiphany Cake. I plan on substituting the wheat flour with a wheat-free combination so my son can share in cake on Epiphany. This comes from her Family Liturgical Customs No. 2: Christmas.
(As an aside, dear reader, there are 5 pamphlets in this series: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.)
Our King’s Cake for Epiphany contains three beans (or a dime, nickel and penny wrapped in foil) and they who find them are Kings for A Night. There’s much X-Ray eyeing and, when Mother turns her back, secret probing of promising-looking lumps on the cake. We bake an inexpensive spice variety in a tube pan, spread it with simple vanilla butter frosting, and crown it with a ring of gumdrops. Gumdrops can be such regal jewels! Here is the recipe for our King’s Cake (Mother called it Eggless-Milkless-Butterless Cake):
Mix in saucepan:
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup shortening or lard
2 cups seeded raisins
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and cloves, each
2 teaspoon cinnamon
Boil for 3 minutes. Cool. Add mixture of
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon water
Sift and blend in:
2 cups flour (I’m going to do a mixture of barley and oat flour, with some starches)
1 teaspoon baking powder
In a greased and floured tube pan, pour batter. Drop in beans or money.
Bake at 325 degrees about one hour, or until toothpick comes out clean.