BATH TWP.: Sheri Glauberman and her husband, Stuart, have a running joke that goes something like this: “If you love me, you’ll …”
The blank is filled in with any number of mundane daily tasks — “get me another cup of coffee,” “rub my feet,” “turn the channel on the television.”
It’s just their way of asking each other for a little favor or special treatment.
So when Stuart’s 60th birthday was approaching, he told Sheri, “If you love me, you’ll get me a banana cake from Budd’s.”
He was referring to Akron’s beloved Budd’s Cake Shop, which was a fixture at 39 S. Maple St. for decades.
As many true Akronites will attest, the banana cake with pineapple filling and seafoam frosting that came sprinkled with chopped pecans was a local icon. The cake celebrated a countless number of birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. Unfortunately, when the bakery closed in 2002, the recipe went with it.
There have been a few copycat versions since then, but the original recipe is gone.
Glauberman figured she’d do her best to honor the birthday request and after some Internet searching, she picked up the phone book and started calling folks with the last name of Budd, in hopes of finding someone from the family who ran the bakery.
As luck would have it, she left a message on the answering machine of Bill Budd, who turned out to be a cousin. He directed her to Frances Budd Carver, daughter of the bakery’s founder, and Frances’ daughter, Jean Riegler, both of Copley Township.
After a long phone conversation and Glauberman making a visit to Riegler’s home, Carver and Riegler agreed to help Glauberman make the cake for her husband’s surprise 60th birthday party, which was Saturday.
On Friday, the trio gathered in Glauberman’s home to assemble the cake.
Carver, 93, said her mother, Emma Budd, was a gifted baker and often was called upon by friends to make cakes for parties or other events.
In 1929 at the start of the Depression, Emma Budd began baking regularly to help make ends meet after Carver’s father, John, lost his job at Swinehart Tire. The Budds had five children to feed and Emma Budd baked out of the family’s home on 573 N. Howard St. After a few years, her business blossomed into a full-fledged bakery, with a commercial oven she purchased from Rutledge Drug, which had used it to bake bread that was sold at the store.
Carver and her sister would help their mother, assembling cakes or delivering them. Back then, Carver recalled, driver’s license rules were not as strict as today, and she began driving at age 13 so she could deliver cakes.
When World War II arrived, Emma Budd had to close up shop. Sugar rationing made it too difficult to stay in business, Carver recalled. After the war, Carver’s younger brother John “Jack” Budd returned from the service and was looking for work. He asked his mother whether he could reopen the bakery and she agreed. They found a spot at 39 S. Maple St., and for nearly 40 years, Jack Budd ran the shop. Carver worked for her brother for many years, and Riegler worked there in the summers.
When Jack Budd wanted to retire, none of his eight children was interested in taking over, so he sold it in the early 1980s to David and Frances Peters. The couple eventually sold the business to Jim and Pam Montgomery. In October 2002, the Montgomerys sold the building to St. Vincent Church, and announced that they planned to reopen Budd’s at a new location the following year. In December 2002, the building was destroyed by arson and the land now serves as a playground for St. Vincent School.
The reopening by the Montgomerys never materialized and the recipes have been gone since.
Carver said her brother was asked for the banana cake recipe before he retired, but he said it would have been too complicated to break down, as it was designed to make a large quantity of batter. Riegler suspects he just didn’t want to give it out.
In fact, Carver does not have the banana cake recipe. Her mother never had it written down, and baked all of her cakes from scratch and from memory. Carver knows that it was a yellow cake made with buttermilk and overripe bananas. “So ripe you’d think they were rotten,” she said.
Carver and Riegler, however, do have the recipe for the pineapple filling and the seafoam frosting, and provided them for Glauberman, who prepared the cakes from boxed yellow cake mixes with mashed bananas added in.
Carver had plenty of other tips. She said the cake itself never had nuts in it, but crushed pecans were used on the outside. And it was always pecans, never walnuts, because the pecans helped to enhance the flavor of the cake, but walnuts could be bitter, Carver recalled.
Riegler also decorated the cake in the same fashion that Budd’s always did for birthdays, with rosebuds, small daisies and leaves decorating the border.
While the bakery was operating, Carver said, the recipe was never given away out of respect for the business. Now, she doesn’t want her mother’s recipe to be lost forever, she said, explaining why she agreed to demonstrate the cake for Glauberman.
The group put together three of the cakes for Stuart Glauberman’s surprise party. It’s proof, Glauberman said, that she really does love her husband.
Carver said she doesn’t know how her mother came up with the combination of banana cake with cooked pineapple filling and pineapple frosting, but she is aware of how much the people of Akron loved it.
Her mother’s baking talent came naturally, Carver said.
“She always said it was God-given,” Carver said. “That was her gift.”
Following are the recipes for the pineapple filling and seafoam frosting, as well as a recipe for a buttermilk banana cake that is similar to what Carver recalls of her mother’s recipe.
BUTTERMILK BANANA CAKE
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup buttermilk
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, bananas and vanilla; beat for 2 minutes. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
Pour into two greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes 1 9-inch double layer cake.
½ cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
½ tsp. salt
1 can (15¼-oz.) crushed pineapple in its own juice, drained (juice reserved)
¾ cup reserved pineapple juice
2 egg yolks, whipped
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. orange juice
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients except cornstarch and egg yolks. Bring to a boil.
Dissolve cornstarch in a little water and combine with egg yolks. While beating pineapple mixture rapidly, add cornstarch and egg yolks to hot pineapple mixture and continue cooking over medium heat until filling reaches desired thickness.
Cool. Spread between cooled cake layers and frost with seafoam frosting. You may have more pineapple filling than you will need in one cake.
Makes about 2 cups.
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup water
2 tbsp. corn syrup
3 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix sugar, water and corn syrup in a saucepan. Cover saucepan, bring to a rolling boil. Remove cover and cook until mixture reaches 242 degrees on a candy thermometer or until syrup spins a 6- to 8-inch thread when dropped from a spoon.
Just before syrup is ready, beat egg whites until stiff enough to hold a point. Pour hot syrup slowly in a thin stream into the beaten egg whites. Continue beating until frosting holds peaks. Blend in vanilla.
Makes enough frosting for one double-layer cake, 8- or 9-inch.
Garnish finished cake with chopped pecans.
Lisa Abraham can be reached at 330-996-3737 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at http://lisa.ohio.com.