Today as I am writing this — Friday, May 8 — it is my mother’s birthday so it is a very special day. She is 94! On this date 75 years ago, World War II came to an end, and just the next week, she and my father were married. It was a special time!

As a family we are trying to do some fun things for her today — where we are together, but not together. My sister who takes such good care of her made her a delicious breakfast this morning. I dropped off a miniature German Chocolate Cake just for her (made in three layers using kids pans). It was one of her favorites that she always made for us. And I left a pan of cupcakes on the back porch if anyone else dropped by to say “Happy Birthday” through the window. She has gotten used to us wearing masks and talking to us through the back door. She loves it especially when her great-grandkids drop by her back door just to say hi. Everyone wants to protect Grandma so they are very careful to wear their masks and not get close, not come in to the house. And tonight — the whole family — all of her children, grandchildren, and even many of the great grandchildren will be gathering on Zoom to celebrate her birthday. Everyone is going to have a little story to tell so it should be a fun and memorable treat!

My mother has always been an excellent cook and baker. She made beautiful cakes. I especially remember the year when I was about 5 years old that she made what seemed like a million cakes to exhibit at the county fair. Then she used all her prize money to buy a KitchenAid mixer! Her coconut cakes were so delicious that some people in town would ask her to make them for special occasions. But the cake that she made the most for my dad and brothers for birthdays was German Chocolate Cake. Originally she made the whole thing from scratch but in later years, she would just buy a German Chocolate cake mix, and then make the homemade coconut and pecan filling and topping from scratch. That is what we all really liked! And it was best if the cake was still slightly warm and the filling was warm. So that is the cake I made her this morning. It brings back so many birthday memories for all of us.

Filling for German Chocolate Cake

Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 12 minutes:

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1 stick butter

Remove from heat.


1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 cup coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

Beat until cool and of spreading consistency. Makes enough to cover tops of 3- 8” layers.

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German Chocolate Cake

By Fran DeWine

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.