A Story and a Recipe

By Dorothy Johnson


In the early days of this country many settlements sprang up along the frontiers.   Because there were so many small villages and they were so far apart, the Christian denominations formed “circuits” and “circuit riders” to preach for the many members.  Methodism was known as the largest Protestant denomination.  In the late 1770s the 14,986 members were served by 83 circuit riders. In 1839 749,216 members were served by 3557 traveling preachers and 5856 local preachers. (Numbers found on internet.)

In the beginning a circuit area included two or more churches and usually the circuit preachers were changed every year.  Their responsibilities included conducting worship, visiting members of each church in his charge on a regular basis and if possible, establishing new churches.

The term “circuit rider” was not adopted by the Methodists.  They called their preachers “traveling” clergy.  The term “circuit riders” stayed with the general populace as the preachers traveled through the wilderness and settlements, preaching every day wherever people could gather (basements, court houses, fields, meeting houses, corners, etc.).  Often the circuit areas were so large it would take 5 or 6 weeks to cover them.

Those house makers in the wilderness would never know when the preacher might visit.  With cooking supplies inadequate, the women worked individually on putting together something special when the preacher appeared.

In the early 1900s, during the Great Depression and through war time rations, preachers, like doctors, carried on the practice of “house visits.”  Because times were still tough in the rural areas, house makers kept the concept of being able to make something special for the preacher at the forefront of their larders.  Over the years several recipes for “Preacher’s Cake” appeared in rural newspapers and rudimentary cook books.

Crawford resident Diane McAlpine researched the recipe and baked a recipe she found for tasting at the Chili Cook-off.   I am sure other recipes are out there, but this one is very good.  Readers are reminded that these recipes are based on what might be available in the pantry on short notice.  Here is the recipe for “Preacher’s Cake.”

Preacher’s Cake


Two cups sugar

Two cups unsifted flour

Two teaspoons baking soda

Two eggs

One-half cup chopped nuts

One (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice


Method: Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 9 by 13 inch pan.  

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes.  Frost if desired.


Cream Cheese Frosting


One (8 ounce) package cream cheese

One half stick butter

One and three-fourths cup confectioner’s sugar

Two teaspoons vanilla

One-fourth teaspoon salt

Method: Mix together cream cheese and butter.  Beat in rest of ingredients.  Spread over cooled cake.

This is a really delicious for anyone coming to visit on short notice.  Next week we will return to recipes that are quick and easy and especially good on cold February days.