Joni Woolf: It’s the marvelous month of May — for some that means Pentecost

Published 2:48 pm Monday, May 21, 2018

Each year, Calvary Episcopal Church (and Episcopal churches throughout the world) celebrates the church’s birthday, known as Pentecost, or the Day of Pentecost. It is a ritual almost 2,000 years old, and is observed throughout Christendom in a variety of ways. One year at Calvary, for instance, the acolytes processed down the aisle waving red banners (red is the official color for the day) to the music of the familiar Ralph Vaughn Williams’ hymn “Hail Thee, Festival Day!” Many of us will be wearing red, signifying the flames of the Holy Spirit. It is a very special day, not only at Calvary, but throughout much of the Church, worldwide. The service ends and a light-hearted celebration begins: it’s called the Holy Ghost Wiener Roast!
In the spirit of fellowship and breaking bread together, the men of the church have, for many years, prepared a feast: it’s a feast of grilled meats that offer something for (almost) everyone. There are traditional hot dogs, of course. There are also bratwurst, Polish sausage, hamburgers and all the proper trimmings. Members bring salads and desserts to round out the meal. It is always a joyous feast, and one eagerly anticipated as the day approaches. I have been scanning several cookbooks, looking for the right side dish and dessert. Tonight I made what turned out to be a very good cole slaw, and I think I will repeat that. I made up the recipe, but it’s easy enough, and everyone liked it. Here’s how I made it:

Colorful Cole Slaw
1 head cabbage, coarsely grated
2 medium carrots, grated
1 purple onion, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
For the Dressing, I mixed together:
Approximately ¾ cup Duke’s mayonnaise
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Juice of one lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
I mixed the dressing with a small whisk, till smooth, then poured it over the cabbage mixture. Using plastic gloves, I mixed it thoroughly by hand, then chilled it till supper time.

So that’s any easy choice. I think I will also take a coconut cake. I haven’t made this specific cake in a while, and it is time to make it again. I have made both the lemon curd and the 7-minute frosting recently, so that part is familiar. It is a good cake, and liked by most folks. It comes from The Beekman 1801 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook, but as I often do, I changed something: I substituted my own lemon curd recipe, which works very well with many desserts.

Cooking spray
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
5 large egg whites
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk
1 cup lemon curd (recipe follows)
Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Coat two 8-inch round pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper. Coat the paper with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg whites and vanilla until well combined. Alternately add in the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape the batter into the pans. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cakes are set around the edges, golden brown, and spring back when lightly touched. Cool in the pans 15 minutes on a wire rack, then run a metal spatula around the sides of the cake and invert onto the racks, right side up, to cool completely. Peel off paper. When cool, spread one layer with the Lemon Curd. Top with the second layer.
3 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
In a large heatproof bowl (or top of a double boiler) set over, but not in, a pan of simmering water, combining the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, water, cream of tartar and salt. With a hand mixer, beat on high speed for 7 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Remove from heat, add in the vanilla, and continue beating for 5 minutes or until cool. Using a long icing spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the coconut over the top of the cake and pat it gently onto the sides.
Lemon Curd
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 eggs, beaten
In saucepan, combine first four ingredients. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Pour eggs into hot mixture, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring constantly about 5 minutes until mixture thickens. Pour amount not used on cake into air-tight jar and use in tarts or on toast. Keeps up to 3 weeks.

Confession: I make this cake in three 8-inch layers. There is plenty of lemon curd to use on the two bottom layers, and plenty of frosting to cover a 3-layer cake. It looks prettier, and is very moist.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at