Recipes We’ll Take to The Grave
RIP and preheat
Hi cake crew,
What do you want to leave behind when you die? A loving family, a prodigious cookbook collection, a funeral full of exes all reminiscing about how you were the one that got away? For some people—our kind of people—the answer is simple: a damn good recipe.
I’ve been fascinated with the wonderfully macabre genre of gravestone recipes since I stumbled upon Naomi Miller-Dawson’s recipe for spritz cookies in Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery a few years ago. The top of the granite slab is cheekily sculpted to look like an open book, featuring a simple engraving of seven ingredients and no method. Was Naomi was from an era where creaming butter into sugar and using a cookie press was common knowledge? Perhaps, but also, there’s only so much space on a tombstone.
The phrase “taken to the grave” often means keeping a secret for eternity, but as Rosemary Grant (a.k.a. @ghostly.archive) can attest, there’s a whole little world of people who chose to be remembered by their recipes—and often, they’re desserts. Read on for some thoughts from Rosemary about her experiments with cooking gravestone recipes, plus a few recipes Cake Zine readers would happily engrave on their own tombstones. —Aliza Abarbanel
1. Why do you think so many graveyard recipes are sweet?
I think these are dishes the person was known for making at family gatherings. When it came time to pick something for their gravestone, it was a recipe for a dish they enjoyed in life and wanted others to keep enjoying. I can’t help but wonder if a lot of cookies and cake recipes don’t need as much instruction as other dishes—I think a lot of these are more forgiving and taste great even if you don’t have detailed instructions.
2. Have you noticed any other trends?
It’s mostly women, and mostly based in North America. A lot of their obituaries talk about having big families, loving to cook for and host loved ones while alive.
3. What's your favorite gravestone recipe you've ever made?
I’ve liked them all. I'm very partial to Naomi Odessa Miller Dawson’s spritz cookie in Brooklyn, since it was the first one I tried. It’s just a great recipe.
4. How do you find all the recipes?
They’ve all been crowd sourced. I found the first four or five via Google searches and Find a Grave; some I found on social media and travel blogs. More recently, families have been sending me recipes from a relative's gravestone.
5. What recipe would you put on your tombstone?
I think I’d actually do a savory recipe. I make a clam linguine I'm very proud of.
Your Tombstone Recipes
Surprise, surprise: Everyone love’s grandma’s recipes. Here are two of your favorites:
“My grandmother's pizza. When she passed away I put it on tea towels for my family, in her handwriting."—Natasha Rolnick
“Grandma's hot milk cake recipe, cut out from a 60s homemaker magazine. She would always serve it with macerated strawberries and plain whipped cream.”—Sofia Swanson
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Consume these now:
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Make: Carolina Gelen’s chocolate feta cookies, then report back to us on the salty-sweet results.
Watch: Le Bernardin’s pastry chef Thomas Raquel make a coconut dessert that looks exactly like a coconut.