My mom was a legendary baker. She did not have a car for much of my younger years, and somehow, I think she liked it that way.
At 8:00 AM Dad would load us up and cart us to school, and she would light a cigarette, put the tea kettle on and read the paper. With 6 kids, that was her spot of heaven. Then she would do laundry and plan dinner. (The house was always clean; we were only allowed in the kitchen and den, perhaps 300 square feet of a 1700 square fot home. Our bedrooms were OUR chore)
After noon, she would pull the old Sunbeam mixer out and create some concoction to satisfy her creativity and sweet tooth. I am sure it also allayed her sense of captivity and made the time fly.
We walked home from school through cold and rain. A mile from grade school, two from high school. By high school, she had a car, but there was a bus that ran right down Woodward Avenue. Asking Mom for a ride required an emergency. We were programmed not to create emergencies.
In exchange for our exercise and stoicism, a home baked confection was waiting for us. Under her old cake dome, an impossibly tall cake with home made icing promised a fine reward if we cleaned our plates.
The cookie jar was constantly laden with Toll House, Oatmeal raisin, Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter. She always double batched, and I cannot understand how that mixer served her so faithfully. The motor never burned out, despite the fact that her dough rolled over the beaters and threatened to migrate to the four corners of the kitchen. In her honor, I have found the identical cookie jar on E Bay for all my sisters and me to own.
As the failed baker that I am, mine holds dog biscuits. Mabel and Milly wag like crazy if they hear the lid move.
Anyway- my point here, from which I have rowed 50 miles, is that as ungrateful kids who had love baked into dessert every day, the Joliats craved oreo cookies and bakery cakes. Which was a profound insult to Mom.
She would not spend grocery money on larded concoctions of inferior quality. Mom would never relent and buy baked goods unless she could not make it better.
She was bested by the Sanders Bumpy Cake, as photographed above. She could not master the whipped cream tubes inserted in the hardened frosting. It was the rare cake that Mom ever bought, and only for special occasions.
Sanders Bakery had outlets by my two high school hangouts.
First, at Northwood Shopping Center, where I would lollygag after school at Shrine High. (If I delayed my arrival at home, I would not have to peel potatoes or set the table.) Sometimes I would sit up to the counter and order a hot fudge cream puff, bought with hoarded babysitting money. (Other stalling mechanisms included French fries and a coke or 25 cents worth of warm cashews at Woolworths. No wonder I am fluffy.)
Then I would walk it off for the two miles, down Woodward Avenue. I had to dodge the occasional trucker’s urine bottles, tossed to the grassy parkway on the cemetery side of the road. I liked that better than the side with cheesy motels.
The other outlet was two doors down from my Box Office perch at the Royal Oak Theater. I would buy my Mom Sanders Breakers candy- a giant clot of milk chocolate with perforations so she COULD share. Or not. My largesse was usually motivated by my misbehavior. Her lack of sharing was motivated by her sweet tooth. And the fact that 8 mouths could consume her booty in a snap.
Sanders closed its stores after I left Detroit. Their storied products were then produced by an assignee: Sanders Hot Fudge or Bittersweet ice cream toppings, Cream Puffs and Bumpy Cake continued to be manufactured. When I turned 40, my Dad sent me a 5 pound can of Hot Fudge with a (rare) handwritten admonition to Enjoy the sweetness of life, because it is a fast ride. I still have that note, and I still believe his words are true. I also realize that he simply packed and shipped he hot fudge Mom bought, perhaps in thanksgiving for all those Breakers.
It lived in my cupboard for years; I assigned a mystical value to the gift. I could not consume it.
Eventually I had a chocolate emergency and opened it.
It was slightly granular. Heating it up fixed everything. Once I opened it, however, I was forced to eat ice cream constantly so as not to waste its goodness.
What a hardship. Especially since Steve does not share my love of melting ice cream with lava flows of fudge and nuts. He likes his ice cream nude. So sad. I alone plowed through 5 pounds of sauce.
My beloved Sanders products have only been sold in a few stores or online. When my family visits, I con them into bringing me these forbidden fruits. Then I freeze them until I am blue and in need of chocolate.
SO: What to my wondering eyes did appear last week at Dominicks?
BUMPY CAKE. In the refrigerated bakery section. I grabbed two. Can it be that these will be a regular? Or is this another case of a cruel experiment at the grocery store?
BUY ONE. TRY ONE. Wash it down with ice cold milk. A small piece satisfies. Please..if enough people share my love, maybe, just maybe Sanders will become a staple.
I would love that. You will love that.
Let me know if you DO love it. Do not bother to break my heart if you do not. I am awash in joyful memories of celebrations gone by. Cut a slice, pour a cold milk and we’ll toast to every delicious morsel of celebratory cake. And to life’s many delicious gifts.