An Old Fashioned Torte

As kids, Carol Rosso and I were best buddies. Oddly enough, I only have two images of us together and they were both taken with my mother's stero 3D camera, long obsolete. The slides were in poor condition but I scanned them into my computer and did the best I could to clean them up. Thought I'd post them anyway because the clothes we wore back then are always good for a laugh. I mean what's with the rolled up jeans? And I can still hear my German grandmother reminding us not to forget our babushkas....

Both photos were taken the same day-ice skating and ice boating: two popular activities on Michigan's Lake St. Clair.

That's my dad in the old ice boating slide; he's well prepared for the cold. I love his hat and goggles, which were a necessity as sharp bits of ice come flying over the boat directly into your face. No windshields. (When we went with him we tied wool scarves over our faces, could barely see anything.) But other than that, the boats back then enclosed the rest of your body. It was a thrilling sport, the boat heeled in the wind just like a sailboat, one blade coming off the ice. Iceboats now are much lighter, completely open, making them faster.

And probably more dangerous- I remember one day Dad had a really bad accident. We were there, but not in the boat with him. He refused to take us when he went out a great distance on the lake. A blade caught in a crack in the ice and the boat went over. The mast hit him across his forehead. He was a mess. Helmets, face masks and no doubt other protective gear are de rigueur now, thank heaven.

Carol and I shared much of our childhood either on the water or on the ice. That's the way life was when you lived on the St. Clair River. You may have heard of it. It's an important river because not only is it an international boundry between the U.S. and Canada, but it also connects the Great Lakes, permitting freighters to travel between the upper and lower Great Lakes.

Unfortunately, Carol and I lost each other for a while when I left town for college, married and moved all over the place in the Air Force. But we eventually found each other again and now exchange Christmas cards and email. Carol still lives in Michigan just a few miles from where we used to live.

This is her cake. Or perhaps her mother's cake. I never asked which. Somebody told me years ago that it can be found in the old Betty Crocker cookbook and I have also heard it referred to as a traditional German cake. I don't know if any of that is true, but I do love this cake. It's called a Blitz Torte. It's vanilla on vanilla, my favorite. Vanilla cake with a vanilla pudding filling. It has a cooked meringue on top of each layer. It's up to you whether you put the meringue up or down on the cake plate. I find it easier to put the filling on cake rather than meringue, so I usually put the first cake layer meringue side down. It's kind of tricky to get the layers out of the pan as the meringue breaks a little. Ignore it. And some of the nuts fall off the top layer. I just collect them and dump them back on top. You want the top to look pretty as there is no frosting on this cake. I'm making this sound hard. Trust me, it's not. But it's comfort food for sure.

Carol's Blitz Torte

1-3/4 cups cake flour, sifted
2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 T. sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup solid crisco
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs, separated
2/3 cup milk
1 cup sugar
cinnamon sugar
1/2 cup ground pecans
5 tablespoons flour
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups scalded milk

Method:Line two cake pans with wax paper, grease and flour them, and preheat oven to 350°.

Sift together first 4 ingredients. Beat the butter and Crisco together. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat in 4 egg yolks, one at a time. Pour batter into the two wax paper-lined cake pans.

Beat 4 egg whites until foamy and add 1 cup sugar by 2 T. amounts. Beat until there are stiff peaks. Spread evenly over the batter.  Make a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on top of the meringue. Sprinkle the ground pecans on top.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Make the custard filling:  scald the milk in a small saucepan. Whisk flour, sugar and salt in top of double boiler. Add scalded milk and cook while whisking 5-10 minutes. Add some of the hot mixture to the 2 beaten egg yolks then add egg yolk mixture back to double boiler. Cook 3-5 minutes more. Add vanilla. The filling should be thick enough to hold its shape. Cool and use as filling.


  1. What a lovely cake! It's so nice to reconnect with old friends. And I never heard of iceboating, but it looks like fun!

  2. Ice boarding? Never heard of it...must be fun :-) Love the torte, looks yummie, love the custard! Great pictures as well!

  3. Lovely stories and cake. I wonder if the Knight would like it?

  4. Love the picture of you two ice skating!

  5. Great pictures, Barbara! I've never heard of ice boating, but it sounds like so much fun. This cake is really lovely, Mike and I both like vanilla on vanilla too!

  6. What a nice tribute to your old friend! I don't think I've ever heard of ice boating. But it sounds kind of awesome. the kind of thing I would never want my kids to do :p

    This cake looks fantastic. I'm going to be dreaming about that filling...

  7. Love your old pictures.
    This cake looks absolutely decadent. I'd love to sink my teeth into this.
    *kisses* HH

  8. What an idyllic childhood memory! I'd never heard of this cake before, but it seems like perfect comfort food to me :)

  9. Duck: It's great to keep in touch over the years. Harder as you get older!

    Julianna: I love custards- plain or in fillings!

    Chan: Maybe...you told me he likes comfort type foods.

    Pam: I know! Isn't it a scream? We were 14 or 15 at the time.

    Faith: Given any choice of ice cream, I choose....vanilla!

    Joanne: It's a very exciting sport! I was never scared...maybe too young to know better?

    HH: Once again, I had to give most of it away so I didn't gobble it down.

    Lucie: We had a lot of fun back then!

  10. Hi Barbara,

    What a delightful post! Thank you for sharing your fond memories and this delicious recipe!


  11. I just saw someone doing iceboating on the lake about 10 days ago and it looked truly amazing. I never know you had a German grandmother and this German cake was unfamiliar to me too. I'm so glad you found your friend again; it's so wonderful reading your stories and thanks a lot for the photos - they're a joy to look at.

  12. What a gorgeous torte! It looks really delicious!

    I love those ice boating pictures!



  13. OMG, you made me cry!!! This is my Gram's cake... she was from an old German family from WIsconsin since the 1840's or so... she made this cake! I have looked for recipes in old books since hers was in her head (as was her apple kuchen recipe). This really seems right and definitely looks right. Thanks so much... loved your photos!

  14. I love these old photos that you share with us, and the stories. Beautiful cake!

  15. Such a great memory! Do you miss this game? Btw, the cake looks awesome...yummmmm.... Have a lovely day!

  16. I should have known better than coming here so close to dinner! My tummy is growling looking at the beautiful cake.

    I really enjoyed seeing your photos of your friend and father. I've seen some videos of people zipping across the ice in those boats and it is scary to think they did it without head protection then. I think you must have been quite stylist with the rolled up jeans ;)

  17. thanks for your support Barbara your great wow ice boating looks so cool and what a torte

  18. That cake looks incredible! What a delicious filling!

    Great pictures!

  19. I too have never heard of iceboating...it looks so calming and fun. This cake looks divine...how can a person only have one piece?

  20. There is something so cool about North MI. it is hard to describe then the things like ice boating so cool.

    The cake looks awesome!

  21. I grew up beside a lake that had many many iceboarders in the winter months. Your torte looks amazing...you are a dear for sharing. Happy February!

  22. i love food that is tied with such great memories and love. the pictures are so sweet! the torte looks fantastic!

  23. Thanks for a beautiful post about a lovely friendship. I haven't never experienced a real winter. Never seen snow but lovely to read about it. Great cake recipe too.

  24. Barbara, what a heartwarming story. My grandmother used to make a cake like this--I'd totally forgotten it. This brings back so many memories. Thanks!

  25. This cake looks incredible! I love the old pictures. So awesome.

  26. Karyn: Glad you liked the post! Thank you for your nice comments.

    Vanessa: I'll be interested if you find out anything about the cake...after all, you're in Germany!

    Rosa: Wish the photos had been better quality.

    Deana: I wish I had gotten my grandmother to write down her recipes! They were all in her head.

    Lea Ann: Glad you like the post!

    Kristy: Yes, I do miss the winter sports.

    Susan: The boats seem more dangerous now but they wear more protection too.

    Rebecca: Iceboating was great fun!

    Erica: Thanks!

    Bryan: Michigan will be in my heart forever.

    Koralee: We used to have to be careful of the ice fishermen- they set up their little houses all over the place.

    Teresa: Thank you!

    Ellie: I'm very happy living in Florida but have great memories of my home state.

    Kate: Our grandmothers made a lot of comfort food!

    Emily: Thank you so much!

  27. i always enjoy seeing your pictures from earlier years. your dad's accident sounds pretty traumatizing for all involved! (and by the by, i'm just thrilled that you broke out the woefully under-used phrase de rigueur.)
    this cake looks stellar. i can only imagine how good it becomes as time goes on and the cake becomes softer around the custard. awesome.

  28. Barbara, Such lovely pictures, They are old fashioned and yet completely 'stylish'. The colors, the goggles , the outfit look out of a magazine shoot. I loved reading about your days on the lake and ice with your father and about your girlfriend. I grew up near Lake George NY and spent many days on and near the lake. The torte looks yummy, I too love vanilla cake with vanilla pudding.
    Have a nice day

  29. I enjoyed reading your post. The pics of you and your friend are fun. I love your clothes! BTW, my teenage daughter walks around with her jeans rolled up wearing Uggs. The style has returned!
    I recently reconnected with a old high school buddy. It so nice to once again friend someone who "understands" you. Let's face it, if they know where you've come from, they can appreciate where your going.
    You had interesting parents!

  30. Your cake looks fabulous!
    and I love your story, ice boating, what an exciting sport! Your slides are great! Nice you were able to get back in touch!

  31. Looks yummy!
    Charles has gone ice sailing a few times - scares the heck out of me.

  32. Grace: A few years ago I did a family cookbook so I asked everyone in the family to search for their old photos. Now I can use them in some of my posts!

    Bunny: Those summer lake days were lazy and fun, weren't they?

    Pam: So pleased to hear that rolled up jeans are back! If you keep things long enough, they will become fashionable again!

    Dishesdone: It was fun to see those old ice boating photos again and I was surprised how much there is about it online.

    Natashya: They wear lots of protective equipment now. Not much different than sailing, actually, although the ice is a little tougher to fall on.

  33. Barbara, those are some wonderful photographs. I bet skating and ice sailing was a lot of fun on that lake.

    This is a terrific cake recipe, too. Not only does it have a great flavor, it has a great "home-baked" look that adds to its delicious appeal. Many thanks for sharing the photos & recipe...

  34. I love this post! The pictures are priceless and I love hearing stories about people's pasts...little glimpses into who you are in real life. The torte looks lovely.

  35. Isn't peanut butter a wonderful thing?

  36. Lotta good wall-eye below that ice! Ice boats were cool! Don't see many of them anymore...

  37. This looks so delicious and light! I love it already, without even having tasted it!

    I love your old pictures!

  38. I loved reading the story! I have never heard of ice boating. It sounds cold and dangerous. It is a good thing for helmets now and too bad your dad did not have one! I love cake with a pudding filling. Thanks for sharing.

  39. George: We had lots of fun back then. The cake will always look homebaked because there is practically no way to remove the cake from the pans without breaking the meringue a little!

    Hungry Dog: The old photos are fun, aren't they?

    Duck: It's no wonder everyone in the Pond loves it so much!

    BD: You better believe it. There is a pickerel tournament in my home town of Algonac every year.

    Dionne: Thanks!

    Wanda: My mother never went with us. No wonder.

    Mary: Thanks for stopping by!

  40. Oooh. That cake looks and sounds great. I'm always looking for a good vanilla cake. Actually, I think your jeans are quite fashionable. Rolled up jeans are coming back in style!

  41. Great pictures and post. How fun to reconnect with your childhood friend. Ice boating sounds just a little dangerous. The cake looks delicious.

  42. Hi Barbara,

    I enjoyed reading your post and seeing your lovely photos.
    What fun out iceskating and ice boating. Looks like fun and I love your clothes.
    The torte looks very yummy and thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Have a great week

  43. What a lovely story and so nice that you found each other again! That has happened to me with a friend and we seemed to just pick up where we left! Gorgeous cake Barbara:D

  44. ahhh the rolled up jean! Gotta love em! I love the cake too!

  45. great story about your friend, as well as your dad's love for frozen sailing (crazy!). love your blog! -Jg.

  46. I know that song! I was thinking of it when I wrote the post!

  47. Love the old pictures and the cake looks wonderful. We grew up ice skating on Michigan lakes too. Great post. Brings back memories

  48. oh that looks like it's just oozing with goodness :)

  49. Yes, love the clothes...but also the story and the butter-and-crisco combo.

  50. Vanilla on vanilla is my fave. I'm not into chocolate.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I thought your clothes pretty cool but I've always said I was born in the wrong generation. :)

  51. Oh wow, that sounds like a cake I'd completely love. And thanks for sharing the photos and the great story.

  52. Barbara ~

    I just love how you included the story of your dear friend before introducing us to this delicious cake! A treat to read!!!

    Forget the rolled up jeans, it's the plaid pants that made me smile!

    :) T

  53. Oh I do love those photos Barbara - they capture such a sense of happiness! And this cake would certainly make me happy too. (It does look very pretty too)

    Glad to hear you found Carol again.

  54. I had not heard of ice boating before, but it looks and sounds like fun (well, not the gash in the forehead part, but the skimming all over the frozen ice part). And your cake looks yummy :)

  55. msmeanie: Funny how fashion just comes right around again!

    Mimi: I guess it was dangerous, but I never thought about it at the time!

    Carolyn: My daughter loves some of my old dresses- she took them out, had them altered and is wearing them!

    Lorraine: I think it's just like that with old friends..you pick up where you left off.

    Leslie: I know, funny!

    JG: Frozen Sailing. Perfect description. Wish I wrote one quarter as well as you do; love your blog.

    Duck: Just knew you had to know that song!

    Penny: Good memories, aren't they>

    Simply Life: It's oozing all right. My custard was not thick enough! Had to make it again, but I loved that one photo.

    Unconfidential: Have lots of recipes from back then with the butter/crisco combo!

    Ingrid: My grown daughter LOVES my old clothes.

    Vickys: Something comforting about it, isn't there?

    Tracey: I'll tell Carol!

    Shaz: That was a happy day!

    Lynn: No that gash was not a good thing, but in all the years Dad went iceboating (and he'd been doing it since he was a boy), it was the only time he was injured!

  56. That delicious looking cake must be a bind between the two of you. This looks like a special occasion cake and I hope to make it for one.

  57. I love the vintage pics!

    And boy, that cake looks like a doozy. A slice of heaven!

  58. A lovely story to match a lovely cake. Would using springform pans help make removal easier?

  59. Comfycook: The cake is really comfort food; everyone loves it.

    TKW: Good post from your dad!

    Mary: I bet it would. Wish I had two.

  60. That's a great looking cake. The meringue part is most interesting and I am sure yummy.

  61. The torte is amazing and I especially love the custard filling!

  62. It is wonderful that you were able to reconnect with your dear friend :)
    Lovely cake!!

  63. I'd never heard of ice boating. Sounds like fun, and maybe a little scary. Your cake looks incredible! I love vanilla on vanilla, and the meringue is lovely.

  64. How lovely! Funnily enough, Russians also make a cake similar to this, vanilla on vanilla and meringue, but also spread raspberry jam between the fillings (yum).

  65. Peabody: It's a lovely cake and the meringue is the finishing touch.

    Natasha: I love all puddings and custards - whether fillings or by themselves.

    Maya: Yes it was. She called after she saw this post!

    Lisa: I was too young to realize it was dangerous!

    Will: Thank you and Happy New Year to you too!

    Irene: Oh yeah! A raspberry jam in the middle would be good too!

  66. What a wonderful story - and memory! This torte looks so comforting - vanilla on vanilla - with custard. Sounds perfect! I'd like to try this - thanks for sharing.

  67. Looks like something you'd get in a restaurant! Hope it was as good as it looks!

  68. those photos are absolutely AMAZING. i love them. and your torte looks gorgeous.

  69. Loved the little note on friendship, and one that endured the travels of time. Wow, how did an old picture still stay so gorgeous?

    And the torte! Amazing!

  70. Susan: So glad you liked the post!

    Maris: Wish I could say it was picture perfect, but it WAS taste perfect!

    My Spataula: It didn't last long around here!

    Sophia: The old friendships are the dearest, aren't they?

  71. Lovely memories and a lovely torte! I've never heard of this cake before. It sounds wonderful!

  72. Food and friendship it all goes together. The cake is amazing-delicious! Another great story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  73. What a lovely friendship you are keeping...... A great gesture to name this beautiful and delicious cake over your friend's name.

    I should say this is a unique recipe everyone should try... certainly I will!

    Sawadee from bangkok,

  74. I simply loved the story. A MOST enjoyable post. The rolled up jeans made me laugh...to think Iwore them that way too gives me the shudders to imagine how I looked!! LOL

    the cake looks and sounds fabulous!mmmmm

  75. Thank you for sharing the incredible photos and story Barbara. Your father was an adventurous man; what a story. I loved ice skating growing up & would of loved to have skated outdoors such as you did in Michigan. I have been to Michigan several times as a child to visit family in Cadillac. Carol's recipe looks scrumptious and can't to try it. Tell her I said thank you. You young ladies looked fabulous by the way! xx deb

  76. I love your blog the more I read it the more I can't stop! What a great story and I love love this cake..I love vanilla and this one looks over the top good. Another great recipe from you I want to try ..Thank you and keep em' coming!

  77. I adore your photographs on the St. Clair, how gorgeous that you have those memories with your Dad and friend. The photographs look amazing too. Iceboating seems thrilling, wish I could try it, although I'm sorry he got hurt that one time.

    As for the Torte - oh yes.

    Thank you for sharing these, Barbara, you have evoked a beautiful memory.

  78. Yes, that TOTALLY looks like comfort food. My kind of cake! I loved seeing those photographs of you on the river. Beautiful boat, beautiful girls!



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