I have been married to Bob for close to 32 years and it was not until last spring that my Mother-in-law Judy brought us out a pan of this cake. Bob had not had this cake in over 34 years and had totally forgotten about it, though it was favorite of his. Judy had never made this anytime we were around. I could not believe it. I thought I had all of the 'favorite family' recipes of hers, and then she came bringing this out and everyone was in love with it. Bob was especially enamored as this was one of his favorite cakes as a child. My grandson Joe loves this cake, too, and I think it is now his favorite. It is just the right spiciness and sweetness.
It seems every recipe I get from Judy must be revised, and this one was no exception! She knows how she makes her recipes and so they are basic recipes without any special instructions. I decided to make this special for Bob a month or so ago, and I noticed the icing didn't quite look like Judy's. No wonder! She sends the nuts and the coconut through the nut grinder to make them into small pieces, but this was not on the recipe (see what I mean by having to be revised), but it was still tasty and delicious. Bob is the one who told me I needed to grind the coconut and pecans as this was his job as a child when his mom would make this cake. That is one way to get kids to help in the kitchen!
The aunt Helen who is listed is a long ago relative whom Bob never knew as she was dead by the time he came along. Judy remembers her, and also her cake. I am glad to be able to add this to my recipe collection, and I think you will, too. It is not overly spicy, simple yet charming, moist and delicious. I think this cake looks more lovely baked in a glass pan.
Aunt Helen's Nutmeg Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 cup moist coconut (sweetened or unsweet)
1/2- 1 cup pecans
2 cups flour*
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg*
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick real butter (1/2 cup)*
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs, slightly beaten*
1 cup buttermilk*
6 Tbls melted real butter
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup coffee cream*
Butter or lard for greasing pan, about 2 Tbls*
Run coconut and pecans through a nut grinder or your food processor to make into small bits. If using a food processor, do not over-process. Set aside.
Grease well with butter or lard a 13" x 9" pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla.
Add the eggs and beat well to blend.
Alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the creamed mixture, starting with and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer.
Pour into prepared pan and spread to make even. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until tests done with a toothpick. Remove from oven.
While cake is baking and almost done, prepare the icing as follows:
In a small pan, melt together the 6 Tbls melted butter, add in the brown sugar and coffee cream, and cook for a few minutes just to the almost boil stage. Add in the coconut and pecans and remove from heat.
Turn oven onto broil.
Spread the icing onto cake evenly. Place under broiler and brown lightly, being careful not to burn. Watch it closely. It will take 2-5 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
* Use unbleached flour.
* Use real butter only.
* I did not have coffee cream so I used whole milk.
* You can use fresh nutmeg and grate amount needed for more fresh and intense flavor.
* I used real butter to grease my pan, taking an empty butter paper and wiping the butter in all corners and
crevices of pan, making sure to coat well so cake would not stick.