This is a very simple cake that comes with many memories. First the birthday parties when my sisters and I were very young. The cousins, aunts, uncles, friends. All the great party foods like bocaditos, croquetas, cangrejitos, etc. The music, dancing with my father, what great fun! The cake was usually from a bakery, but sometimes my mother made it. This was all before the Communists began to suck the fun out of life.
Later memories are different. My father was in the labor camp, because we were "worms" who wanted to leave the country. We were allowed to visit him once a month. The prisioners in the camp were nearly starving, so my mother would prepare food out of our meager rations, to take to our father. She would toast bread slices on a pan (the toaster no longer worked and in a Communist regime there's no such thing as going to the store and buying a new one), till they were completely dry. She would then store these in tin containers so they wouldn't spoil in the humid tropical weather. She would also make him a cake (no frosting), though she was not always able to obtain all the ingredients. She "baked" the cake in a pressure cooker, on the kerosene stove my father had built. Our gas stove and oven had not been operational for years, since we could not buy gas because there was none available. There was no need to try and preserve the cake, the men devoured it as soon as we got to the camp; sweet relief to their constant hunger.
Now Cuban cake always fills me with gratitude for freedom, my parents and the sweetness of life.
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour pans. Beat the first 5 ingredients with a hand mixer. Add flour, salt and baking powder and fold into wet ingredients, without beating it. Pour into pans, Bake for 30 minutes.
4 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 Tablespoons sugar
4 egg whites
First make syrup. Cook the 4 cups of sugar and 1 cup water to soft ball stage. (That’s when you drop a small amount of the syrup in cold water and it forms a soft flexible ball). Let it cool. Beat egg whites until they make peaks, add the 4 Tablespoons of sugar. Pour the syrup into the meringue slowly, and beat until spreadable consistency.
Frost cake and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.