There’s no denying it. I’m a Drag Queen. I think I’ve been one most of my life. It’s not just because of my encyclopedic knowledge of movie musicals or fond appreciation of kitsch and camp. There are plenty of folks out there who share that. But coupled with a deep love of men, height leaning north of 6 feet in heels, elegant non-petite feet (we don’t call them big, darling), a flare for the dramatic, and a shoe for every occasion (including ones I haven’t thought of as yet), there’s only one conclusion. I AM a Drag Queen. I am not the only one who thinks so. I’ve been called a drag queen by a drag queen. In fact, more than one, and several times. I’m O.K. with that. Actually, I embrace it, happily. Which is a good thing because I live in the East Coast Center of the Gay Male Universe — Chelsea. Some have commented: “You’ll never meet a guy and get married if you hang out with gay men.” That’s pure twaddle. (See what I'm saying? Only a queen would use “twaddle.”) I’ve been hanging with gay men for a long, long time, and it hasn’t prevented me from anything. In fact, my life is fuller, richer, and far more fabulous because of it. And I never, ever have to explain why I have all those shoes. Plus, now when I quote dialog from "Singing in the Rain" or "Auntie Mame," someone picks up the next line. These are my people!
I’m not the first drag queen in the family either. The tradition goes back at least two generations. Just like other families, on Christmas Eve, we were put in our pj’s and sent to our beds to await Santa. Then we heard it — the telltale jingling of sleigh bells and that jolly “ho ho ho.” But wait. This “ho” sounded slightly soprano. Do I detect a German accent? My brother and I would race downstairs to meet the head jolly man, and as we shook “his” hand I noticed the nails were lacquered a lovely shade of Windsor Rose. And “he” wore lipstick. Is that a black patent leather heel hidden under those Santa pants? Why, this Santa was a WOMAN! It was my grandmother doing her annual Santa drag show, and we had ringside seats every year. I’m thinking Oma would have fit in just fine in my neighborhood too.
This recipe is a family favorite and perfect for a special occasion because it’s both impressive and easy (and what drag queen isn’t?). Call it a cake or a trifle, but either way, she’s a lady and absolutely FAAAABULOUS!
Oma’s Lemon Lady Finger Cake
The recipe makes more that enough to fill a large 12” spring form cake and can serve over 12 easily. Any leftover ladyfingers and filling can be easily made into individual cakes using 1-cup ramekins or bowls. Don't worry if you don’t have a 12" pan. I’ve done this in a 10” and had enough to do a small 8” too.
- 5 packages soft ladyfingers (Do NOT use the hard ones you would use for a tiramisu. You need the sponge ladyfingers, often kept in the bakery department in the supermarket. If you don't see them, just ask.)
- 3 packages MY-T-Fine lemon pudding mix
- 1 ½ cups water
- 3 ½ pints heavy cream
Make the pudding according to package directions, using the 1-½ cups of water instead of the 2 cups listed on the box. Let cool completely. Whip the cream over a bowl of ice to keep the dish cool. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled lemon pudding.
Line the bottom of the spring form with the ladyfingers, making sure to wedge in tightly so they cover completely (cut them if you need too – the bottom ones don’t show). Then line the sides neatly, flat side facing in, so they stand up nicely like a picket fence. These will show when you take the spring form ring off. Add a generous layer of the lemon cream to cover the bottom, and then top with another layer of ladyfingers, cutting them to fill all the spaces.
Continue with layers of lemon cream and ladyfingers until you’ve filled the pan, finishing with a prettily arranged layer of ladyfingers on top (this layer will show). Cover with cling wrap and put in refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours and overnight if you like. You want the ladyfingers to absorb moisture from the lemon cream, forming a solid cake that can be cut into wedges. When you are ready to serve, remove the outer ring of the spring form and dust the top with powdered sugar. If you felt like gilding the lily (and what drag queen doesn't), you could pipe some whipped cream on top, or decorate with thin lemon slices. The cake should be kept refrigerated until ready to serve. It also freezes beautifully, and I have made two smaller versions, one to serve and one to freeze for another day. Calories: Oma wouldn’t care, so neither do I.