Mrs. Earcie’s Tribute Cake for Kwanzaa

My maternal grandmother Mrs. Earcie Ginwright, a life-long Alabamian, taught me more about African values than my African study and Swahili language classes taught me. I moved from Alabama to Washington D.C. nearly 30 years ago to learn more about African and Pan-African culture, only to realize that much of my grandmother’s creativity and folkways were holdovers from her West-African ancestory–and mine.

www.pescetarianjournal.comMs. Ginny, as we called her, showed sustainable purpose in her gardening, her quilting and crocheting, in her tending to our small aches with her herbal preparations, and in her cooking and baking. She wasted nothing. She once made a room divider from plastic six-pack-soda-can holders, which she made lovely by crocheting around and among the rings with brilliant-colored yarn. Her children’s and grandchildren’s old clothes became quilts. Gallon-sized milk jugs were halved and became planters. My grandmother, who lived a century, was not unique among American women of her time. These women used their sense of conservation, their culinary ingenuity, and their faith in the modest ingredients of their larders to prepare and present meals, particularly during holidays, that laden their dining room tables with edible wealth. No one felt poor among such abundance.
Grandmother on My Wedding Day

My favorite and most memorable treat of Ms. Ginny’s is her lemon pound cake. This unassuming cake was hidden among the red velvet and carrot cakes (with real carrots, thank you) and stood out for it’s rich texture and sweet lemony flavor. I never asked her for the recipe. I didn’t know that I would one day write recipes. I didn’t think I would miss her lemon pound cake so much once she passed on. So here is a recipe fashioned from a flavor memory and from my determination to replicate the love and sweetness that was Ms. Ginny.

Recipe: Mrs. Earcie’s Tribute Cake for Kwanzaa (Adapted from Easy Lemon Cake,

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick of butter, softened 
1 cup unbleached (natural) sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest 
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk
Sparkling White Sugar Sprinkles

Lemon Glaze
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar


  1. Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together in a small bowl.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Add eggs, lemon juice, and zest to butter and sugar. Mix well and pour into dry ingredients.
  3. Add 1/2 cup milk and mix lightly until milk is absorbed. Add an additional two tablespoons if the mix is too dry.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Bake cake for one hour and pierce with toothpicks to check for doneness. The toothpick should come out clean.
  6. Cool cake to warm. Mix lemon juice and sugar. Pour glaze over cake a little at a time, allowing some of the glaze to soak into the cake.
  7. Scatter top of cake with sugar sprinkles.
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  1. says

    What a wonderful post. It made me feel like I almost knew your grandmother, as if one day long ago I sat at her kitchen table to enjoy some of this lemony treat while talking all afternoon.

    Memories are such a wonderful thing, we should all work harder to preserve the ones we have of people special to us like this!

  2. says

    I loved this post! It reminds me of my Granny. When she passed away I received her recipe box, organized in silly ways because of her advancing senility towards her later years. I will look for a Lemon Pound cake recipe and share it with you if you would like. Yummy!

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