This is the 1863 recipe for making the genuine home-made sugar cake which folks in and around Winston-Salem, NC have loved for years. This cake and a visit to the Moravian Candle Tea at Old Salem have become beloved Christmas traditions for many.
Recipe -- of well-risen wheaten bread dough, take about two pounds. Work into it a teacup full of brown sugar, quarter pound of butter and a beaten egg. Knead well and put into a square pan dredged with flour. Cover it and set it near the fire for half an hour to rise. When risen, wash with melted butter; make holes in the dough to half its depth, two inches apart, fill them with brown sugar and a little butter. Then spread ground cinnamon and a thick layer of brown sugar over the whole surface. Sprinkle with a little essence of lemon. Put into the oven and bake it fifteen minutes.
Moravian Sugar Cake - modern version
1 pint of milk
1 package of dry yeast, dissolved in 1/2 cup very warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup shortening
4 to 5 cups flour (more may be needed)
Cinnamon (the more the better)
Heat milk to lukewarm, or scald and then cool milk.
In a large mixing bowl, combine liquid, yeast, sugar, salt, egg, flour, and shortening.
Work with hand until dough blisters (dough will be very soft and sticky, so leave it in the bowl and just squeeze for about 10 minutes).
Let rise about one hour in a warm place.
Punch down - may be put in pan now, or let rise a second time (about 45 minutes to an hour).
Spread in a well-greased pan, spreading as thin as possible (it won't go smoothly to edges, but after it's risen a bit, it will spread out a little more).
Let rise 30 to 45 minutes.
Punch holes with finger.
Spoon melted butter over and cover with soft brown sugar. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes, until top is golden brown.