A prized family recipe for orange cake that survived the Holocaust was reproduced by a Chilliwack bakery this week to honour a Holocaust survivor.
The survivor, Alex Buckman, is the keynote speaker for the sold-out event, A Conversation with a Holocaust Survivor, at the Abbotsford campus of University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) on Wednesday (Nov. 23).
Sebastian Huebel, who teaches a history course on the Holocaust at UFV, organized the event.
Huebel invited Buckman to share his story with the class, making arrangements through the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.
“I wanted my students to be able hear from and speak to a survivor,” Huebel recounted.
But rather than only having the speaker address his 30 students, he decided to open the event to the wider community, thinking it might attract broader interest. And it did, having sold out.
The event was described as an opportunity to: “Witness a personal and powerful story of survival and courage while learning and reflecting on how we can engage in meaningful ways to build a better world.”
Buckman survived the Holocaust as a child by being hidden in Belgium, but his mother perished at a concentration camp.
“One thing that survived, however, was a cookbook including some family recipes,” Huebel said.
The cookbook, and the cake recipe somehow made its way into Buckman’s hands, having been delivered to him by another survivor.
Huebel decided to approach Travis Neels of BeNanna Bakery in Chilliwack to see if they could reproduce the decades-old cake recipe in time for the event.
“Sure enough, they did!”
Neels said the recipe that they converted into cupcakes included both orange juice and a bit of orange zest. It was a fun challenge to take on for the European-style bakery.
“It turned out wonderful,” Neels said. “It was a simple recipe to do.”
BeNanna staff baked off about 150 cupcakes from the orange cake recipe, and packed them into pastry boxes, which were handed out to attendees at the end of the Holocaust remembrance event.
In his closing remarks, the history instructor explained that one of the “lasting legacies” of the Holocaust are the memories that need to be preserved.
“The Nazis in the end were not successful,” Huebel said. “They tried to eliminate all things Jewish but they didn’t. There are the family stories. There are the survivors, and the memories we need to keep alive. So it’s more than a simple cupcake!”
So when the event was over attendees were offered a taste of those lingering memories as a meaningful way to end it.
“So maybe we can cherish his memory, and his family’s memory by taking that cupcake home, and the recipe, and live it.”
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