Whole Grain Washington Pie & Polka Dot Underwear

Whole Grain Washington Pie, a beautifully-textured sponge cake made with stone ground flour.

Whole Grain Washington Pie, a beautifully-textured sponge cake made with stone ground flour.

I have been waiting years to tell this story about my dad…
To set the scene you need to know that I have four brothers and by the time the younger two were in high school my dad was getting mildly frustrated by the fact that all of their underwear were getting mixed up in the wash. To solve the problem my mom bought dad polka dot underwear. Not confetti dot underwear. It was large purple and navy polka-dot-on-white underwear.

The year I lived in France mom and dad came to visit for a couple of weeks. On the day they were to fly home I accompanied them to the airport to say goodbye. Together we dropped off the rental car and began the long walk across the parking lot to the terminal. Dad was ahead of me and mom, and in the bright sun of that lovely morning, as we looked towards dad in his pale yellow summer trousers, all we could see was a distinct polka dot pattern across his backside. It was like he had clown underwear on for all to see and it was so hilarious that mom and I almost had to sit down on the pavement to catch our breath.

Whole Grain Washington Pie, a beautifully-textured sponge cake made with stone ground flour.
One of the most important things dad taught me in life is to have the self-confidence to do things your own way and to not let the shallow opinions of others alter your path. Dad didn’t rummage in his suitcase for a change of underwear that morning. And we didn’t expect him to.

A few minutes later, as he stood at the counter of an airport café to buy us all coffee, I overhead a couple of American tourists make a remark about his polka dots, and I was very pleased to have a dad who had the confidence and sense of humour to carry it all off. (Je m’en fous!)
Whole Grain Washington Pie, a beautifully-textured sponge cake made with stone ground flour.

Dad always had room for dessert and a favourite of his was what he called, as a child, wash-me-down pie. It was his name for Washington Pie, a white layer cake filled with jam and frosted lightly with a simple white icing.

My very favourite cake to use for this is Prissy’s Cake, a delicious sponge cake from a dear family friend (slightly adapted).

Green tip: I make this cake with a blend of stone ground whole white flour and a little whole wheat pastry flour.

Washington Pie

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup hot water
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease and flour a 9”x13” pan.
  2. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in water then milk. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Combine the flour with the baking powder and salt and stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in the lemon and vanilla and mix until just combined.
  3. Pour into prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes or until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  4. When cool, cut in half lengthwise, and spread the base layer with about 1/2 cup jam. Place the second layer on top and frost with this simple butter icing:

1/4 cup soft butter

2-3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 cups of icing sugar
Cream butter with the milk and vanilla. Add icing sugar one cup at a time until you get a spreadable consistency, adding more milk if necessary.



  1. Bridget, I absolutely love this story. Your father was a truly classy guy with a wonderful sense of what was important in life.

  2. Such a nice story, Bridget! I am the opposite, have a mother who always looked up to and feared other people's opinion, so I lack in confidence and wait for people's approval or recognition. Anyway, I love these kind of sponge cakes, simple and delicious!

  3. Too funny, Bridget!! And I love the sound of this cake – old fashioned goodness!

  4. That is awesome. I might have been inclined to change my undies but good for him for pulling it off! Also, I like the sound of Washington Pie.

  5. How wonderful that you have such fond memories of your dad and the lessons in self-confidence he passed on to you!


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