An Esto special

cake

Jeanette Wells Berry (right) and her sister Louise McGowan with a 16-layer chocolate cake at John Clark Park in Esto.

GROWING UP IN ESTO, we always had plenty of good food. Some of the best was served up when the neighbors got together for a fish fry, or after church for an old-fashioned dinner on the grounds — lately in the air-conditioned fellowship hall.

The ladies in Esto were always especially good at baking cakes. I remember Lane cakes and fruitcakes at Christmas, coconut cakes stacked high, red velvet cakes white on the outside and bright red on the inside, lemon cheese cakes — none of them better than a simple pound cake with a raw streak. Best of all for really special occasions was a towering chocolate cake made of many thin layers, with fudgy crystalized chocolate frosting between every layer and all over the outside. It had more frosting than cake.

So it was a happy surprise to turn to the food section of The New York Times, no less, and find a feature on Southern cakes — dateline Hartford, Alabama, just seven miles north of Esto — celebrating what they called the “Chocolate Little Layer Cake” as a specialty of our corner of the country. That it is.

MORE: “Stacked Up Southern Style

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