El Día de los Muertos and Mayonnaise Cake

November 1, 2009
Feddie, Bonnie, and Bob: Kemah Boardwalk at Christmas

Feddie, Bonnie, and Bob: Kemah Boardwalk at Christmas

Last year I wrote about how I’d grown up with the tradition of El Día de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead celebrated November 1 and 2 – through my family’s several spins of Air Force life in San Antonio and our eventual adoption of it as our home.  Coming just a year after my parents’ passing, it was a special and poignant time for me.  This year, I’m remembering them, and I’m also making a special remembrance for Freddie’s sister Bonnie who left us in February.  My ofrenda for 2009 is Bonnie’s Mayonnaise Cake.

The tradition described in Wikipedia:

Ofrendas are also put in homes, usually with foods such as candied pumpkin, pan de muerto (“bread of the dead”), sugar skulls and beverages such as atole. The ofrendas are left out in the homes as a welcoming gesture for the deceased. Some people believe the spirits of the dead eat the “spiritual essence” of the ofrendas food, so even though the celebrators eat the food after the festivities, they believe it lacks nutritional value.

My own tradition, of course, is to eat the foods and talk and tell stories about our beloved departed.

Bonnie sent us this recipe on January 24; less than a month later, she was gone.  She had come to live with us briefly in San Diego in late 2001, not long after her diagnosis with leukemia.  Within nine months, we all had relocated, first Bonnie back to Indiana, then Freddie and I to Galveston.  She visited us once on the Island at Christmas, but her most fervent wish was to get back home to be closer to her adult children.  I last saw her around Thanksgiving, 2007 in Indianapolis when we stopped by on our way to spend the holiday with Freddie’s parents.  Freddie grew so much closer to Bonnie in those couple years, often speaking with her on the phone every day.  It’s a loss that has not healed.

In any case, the cake is wonderful and easy to make:

2 cups flour
1-1/4 cup sugar
3 or 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons baking soda in 1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix flour, sugar, and cocoa powder into a large bowl.  Stir in mayonnaise.  Gradually add in water mixture and vanilla.  Pour into two greased and floured 9-inch pans.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes.


One Response to “El Día de los Muertos and Mayonnaise Cake”

  1. Zorya Says:

    A cup of black coffee for Mom and a bit of good Scotch, neat, for Dad.

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