We never called this “Space Cake,” I named it that. Whatever the name, we just knew we loved the scrumptious peanut-butter-chocolate cake. Space Cake is one of those recipes that was never written down, it was just enjoyed.
It began with my maternal grandmother, Mable Marie Varner Space, otherwise known as Gran. We figure the name Space must have been a shortened version of the German name Spache or Spacek. When our forefathers came through Ellis Island, they pronounced their names and the people at Ellis Island who recorded their entry spelled the names the way they sounded, or changed the names altogether. Gran’s maiden name, Varner, would have been spelled Warner in German with the W sounding like a V, thus, the new, Americanized spelling.
Gran was a sturdy, serious, and quiet woman who always had a quilt in progress with quilting racks adorning her dining room. My grandfather, Pa, was always cheerful. In fact, his nickname was “Happy,” given to him by people on his rural Pennsylvania mail route.
Gran made this cake, cherry and lemon meringue pie, and soft white bread with a chewy crust. Pa made homemade egg noodles. Going to their home was an adventure for me. I sat quietly for a while and listened to the grown-ups while I swiveled in the big gray knobby chair with the crocheted doilies.
Then I would go exploring. The rooms where my mother grew up were intriguing with old furniture with lots of drawers and baubles. Off from the dining room was a secret door that either went to the cellar or was a closet. I was never brave enough to open it or ask. The back yard was narrow and lush with plum, cherry and apple trees. I wanted to climb the trees but never did.
Never having a written recipe, I’ve been making Space Cake for years.
- 1 box graham crackers
- Bananas, about 3-5 depending on the size of the dish
- Chocolate frosting, about 1-2 cups
- Peanut butter, about 1 to 2 cups
Layer graham crackers in a baking pan. Slice bananas lengthwise and layer on top of graham crackers. Repeat the layers at least twice until you end with graham crackers. Frost the top with your favorite chocolate frosting mixed with peanut butter (about half and half). Cover tightly and let cake sit for at least 24 hours before eating it. It gets better with age and will hold in the refrigerator a few days after that.
This recipe originally appeared in Celebrate Home Magazine, summer 2013 issue. Photo by Cindy Dyer.