Baking Our Way Through American History: Moravian Sugar Cake

This is our final cake in the 1650-1799 timeframe as we bake our way through American history we bake our way through American history with the book American Cake by Anne Byrn. The Moravian Sugar Cake is one of the first coffee cakes in the United States and was passed down from mother to daughter – pretty literally as the yeast starter was given to a Moravian bride and then a bit was reserved for the next cake. This cake was brought to the Americas by the Moravians that settled in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina. It’s distinct because of the mashed potatoes used in the batter and also the “dimple” areas that collect butter, cinnamon and sugar.

Now, I’m going to be completely honest – something went wrong in the baking of this cake. I’m not sure if the problem was the yeast (it’s pretty cold here which is not yeast-friendly) or what, but we did not have good results. You can see the photos of the process below. While I found the history fascinating, I don’t think I’ll make this one again!

Making our Moravian Sugar Cake… cutting and boiling the potatoes….

Cutting Potatoes for Moravian Sugar Cake

Potatoes for Moravian Sugar Cake

Boiling the potatoes for the Moravian Sugar Cake

Combining the potatoes with some of the water from the pot, yeast, butter, shortening and sugar.

Step One for the Moravian Sugar Cake

Mixture Ready to Rise 1 for Moravian Sugar Cake

Then you let the dough rise a bit (well for a long time!). After the mixture rises a bit and becomes spongy, you add the flour and eggs. Combine and then let it rise (AGAIN!).

Adding the eggs and flour to the Moravian Sugar Cake

Mixing the Dough for Moravian Sugar Cakes

Ready to Rise 2 for Moravian Sugar Cake

After it rises for the second time, you knead it until its smooth and elastic. Then you put it in a 13×9 pan and let it rise (for the third time…).

Kneading the Dough for Moravian Sugar Cake

Ready to rise 3 - Moravian Sugar Cake

After it rises again (mine really didn’t rise very well the third time), you dimple it with the handle of a wooden spoon, pack in the butter (SOOO much butter) and then sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top.

Lots of Butter Moravian Sugar Cake

Right Before the Oven Moravian Sugar Cake

Then it comes out of the oven and you let it settle (because there will be LOTS of butter pooling on top…).

FInal Moravian Sugar Cake

Like I said at the top, ours didn’t turn out well at all. It was super dense and heavy, and honestly had an odd taste to it. It could have been the yeast, it could have been an error… I’m not really sure. But I can’t attest to good results for this one.

I’m looking forward to moving into the next period of history and hoping we have better luck!


About Lindsey

Hello! I'm a 30 year old, newly married, lady living outside of one of the best cities in the USA! I work in communications, love to read, recently purchased an RV with my husband (yay for road trips!) and am looking forward to starting a family soon-ish. I love to smile and hope to make other people smile too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *