Grandma Mary’s Delightful Cake
(or Church Delight Cake)
By Christine Vartanian Datian
This recipe is featured in the Collections from the Grapevine Cookbook, published by the Ladies Society of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Fowler, California.
|Grandma Mary’s Delightful Cake |
Enjoy Mary Boyajian Mirigian’s Delightful Cake recipe she made for family dinners and church events at the St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Fowler, California for many years. Mary was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1902, and as a child moved to the small town of Fowler, California, known for its grape vineyards and expansive farm land. She was a charter member of the Armenian-American Citizens’ League, active in the California Armenian Home Guild, American Legion Auxiliary, Fresno County Farm Bureau Women, and St. Gregory Senior Ladies Society. She was married to Mesrob K. Mirigian of Fowler, and had three daughters and nine grandchildren.
Though she passed away in 1981 at age 79, Mary passed along her many creative skills for baking, cooking, and sewing to her beloved granddaughter Mary Ekmalian of Fresno. This is a cherished recipe of Mary and her mother, Arpeni “Penny” Mirigian, who passed away in 2019 at age 97. “Being raisin growers and farmers, my grandmother and her family looked for new ways to use raisins in their recipes, many of which remain with us now. The skills I learned from her and my late mother, I embellish on today. Back then, immigrant families could not afford a lot of ingredients. My grandparents raised their family during the Great Depression in the San Joaquin Valley. Those were challenging times for Armenian families just to survive,” Mary says. “Old family recipes are special — how you make your family happy when they taste your food, that makes all the difference. When people tell you how delicious these recipes are today, that makes you feel good,” she adds.
1 1/2 cup raisins
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine or butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mace (or nutmeg)*
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cups walnuts, chopped, to taste
1/4 cube (2 Tbsp.) margarine or butter
1/4 cup milk, heated
3/4 box powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
Wash raisins. In a medium pot, combine water and raisins and cook until the water has been reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Reserve cooked raisins to add later.
Measure into a mixing bowl: the sugar, margarine or butter, eggs, and salt, and blend well together. Measure into a flour sifter: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and mace; sift together three times. Gradually add sifted mixture into wet mixture. Add the cooled raisin water to this mixture. Add vanilla. Blend well, and stir in walnuts and the 1 1/2 cups cooked raisins. Pour into a large 12” X 17” greased and floured baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes.
Frosting: Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Spread on warm cake before cutting into squares.
Makes 54 (2”) squares 1/2” thick.
* Possible mace substitutes include nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, ginger or pumpkin pie spice.