LIMA — Linda Balson’s husband, Tom, shouted last week when he looked at The Lima News.
“My husband says, ‘Come here!’” Balson said, explaining he thought the Better Than Sex Cake in the last Weekend Chef was her recipe.
They looked more closely and saw the differences. Her recipe is from scratch, while last weekend’s started with a box cake mix. The toppings are also different, with Balson’s cake frosted with a rich cream cheese icing.
Which Better Than Sex Cake approximates joy the most closely? That’s for you, the reader, to decide.
Balson’s recipe isn’t her own. She used to work at Lima State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. During the early 1970s, she remembers a church group making regular visits with the patients and bringing in baked goods. One of those items was this cake, and Balson asked the elderly baker for the recipe.
She doesn’t remember that woman’s name and figures she is now deceased, but that baker made an impression because she giggled over the cake’s name.
“I’ll never forget that lady. She was so cute,” Balson said.
Balson baked this cake for years afterward. It became a favorite dessert, and she’s shared the recipe often over the years.
“Oh, it is so moist. It is, I think, the moistest cake,” Balson said.
Balson was raised in Lima by a single mother who worked as a cook at various restaurants around town. By age 11, Balson was cooking dinner for her brothers.
“Anybody in my family was cooking, I’d be in there watching,” she said, explaining she wanted to learn. “I like when people enjoy it. I don’t cook for me. I cook for the people who are eating it.”
She was raised cooking from scratch, something she still prefers — although she’s more apt to take some shortcuts now with just a household of two.
Balson’s Better Than Sex Cake calls for simple ingredients and is easy to mix together. And the name always brings a laugh.
“Most women will say, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ Most men are like, ‘I don’t know about that now,’” she said with a smile. “You’ll just have to taste it and judge for yourself.”
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