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Mother Ann's cake is a delicious traditional Shaker confection, baked every year in honor of the prophetess' birthday (February 29). A white cake, it is layered delicately with peach jelly and flavored rosewater. At this time of year, because the peach trees were just starting to come out of dormancy, the batter would be whipped with the sprigs to impart a slight peach taste. What follows is the classic recipe for Mother Ann's cake, with a rosewater icing.

The Cake

1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
3 cups flower
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons Shaker rosewater*
12 egg whites, beaten
1 teaspoon salt

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Sift flour, cornstarch, and baking powder together, then add to butter mixture in small amounts, alternating with the milk. Beat well after adding each increment. Add rosewater. Beat eggs with salt until stiff, then fold into the batter. Bake in three 8" pie tins at 350F for 25 minutes.

After this cools, smooth peach jelly between the layers and cover with...

Rosewater Frosting

4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup light cream
1 tablespoon Shaker rosewater*

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth. This frosting also works on cookies and other such things.


*Rosewater can be purchased from the website of many Shaker museums, as it is still produced by the Shakers of Sabbathday Lake. I believe it is also used in some Middle Eastern dishes, so you may be able to find it in ethnic groceries.

Shaker your Plate by Sister Frances Carr. I heartily reccomend this book.

The Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.

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