My family’s recipes give me a great sense of connection. A connection to the past, to fond memories of celebrations and achievements, and most importantly to family members no longer with us. There’s immediate comfort in the familiar handwriting so distinctive to my Mom and grandmothers. And when I’m in the kitchen with these recipes it’s like everyone is there with me.
But enough melancholy! What connection could there possibly be to a Strawberry Angel Food Dessert? My favourite kind – an unexpected and happy coincidence. When I recently came across this recipe, probably clipped from a magazine in the 1960s based on the horrifying and off-putting photograph, I had a flashback so strong it would need movie quality special effects to adequately describe it.
In the early 1980s a series of books was published under the canopy title, Best of Bridge, literally from a group of Calgary, AB women who played bridge together. Their terrific, accessible collection of recipes was a mainstay in our home. Most of my volumes are falling apart from use. In one of the first volumes – the “red book” as it was usually referred, was a recipe for Strawberry Angel Food Cake that has some striking similarities to this recipe. I’m sure that it was a family favourite for one of the women. And when I was in my middle teens and learning to cook on my own, it was the recipe I chose when Mom asked me to make dessert for one of the Cook family gatherings. It was a hit and in the family repertoire for a number of years.
Recognizing these connections reminds me that recipes are living entities. Families add and subtract ingredients to make them part of their own stories, then pass them along through the generations creating new connections as they go.
The Best of Bridge version is made in an angel food tube pan rather than a square or rectangular pan suggested in this recipe. The dessert will be tasty in either format, but I think the tube pan version makes a nicer presentation.