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Moravian Sugar Cake can Spice up the Holidays

Baking a traditional Moravian treat might be a nice surprise for your relatives during the upcoming holidays.

It’s that time of year when the cinnamon is sprinkled and the turkeys scramble. Who doesn’t love the comfort foods of Thanksgiving?

There’s not one part of Thanksgiving dinner that I don’t like (well, with the exception of the gizzard!). A few of my favorites include buttery homemade whipped potatoes with turkey gravy, cranberry relish, creamed corn and, of course, spicy pumpkin pie topped with Cool Whip.

But another wonderful tradition in the Holtzhafer household is a pre-Thanksgiving treat called a “Moravian Sugar Cake.” The Lehigh Valley is full of Moravian history, so I thought it might be fun to share.

The Moravians are a group of people who originated in Moravia, which was part of eastern Czech Republic. As a lifestyle, Moravians valued music, missions, and Christian unity, according to Wikipedia on which our very own Emmaus Moravian Church is pictured!

“The movement that was to become the Moravian Church was started by Jan Hus (English: John Huss) in the late 14th century. … in doing so, the Moravians arguably became the first Protestant church.”

In 1727, the traditional “Lovefeast” began and has continued through present day.  

At the Emmaus Moravian Church, it’s a tradition to sell old-fashioned “Moravian Sugar Cakes” throughout the year. Typically they’re sold in the colder months (November and February) when the church kitchen is cooler to work in, says Melissa Heckman, an Emmaus Moravian Church member and also the organizer for the bake sales.

Heckman works with 10-15 other church members to bake and sell the traditional cakes and “Lovefeast buns” which consist of the same dough as the cakes, but are individually rolled and are topped with cinnamon and sugar rather than butter and brown sugar.

During each bake sale, approximately 200 Moravian Sugar Cakes and about 48 dozen Lovefeast buns are sold to raise money for the church.

According to Heckman, Lovefeast is celebrated several times throughout the year including the first Sunday in Advent, Christmas Eve, Mother’s Day and during their “Anniversary Sunday” in July. During the Lovefeast services, Lovefeast buns are served to the congregation. This is a Moravian tradition throughout the world.

In my latest venture to improve my skills in the kitchen, I decided to make my own attempt at baking a Moravian Sugar Cake.

If you’ve never tried to bake one, here are the simple steps you can take to make your own version of the Moravian Sugar Cake. Here's another recipe I found for Lovefeast buns. Perhaps you can bring them to Thanksgiving dinner as an alternative to all that pumpkin pie!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food? Share your recipes in the comments section below.

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