Food & Drink Magazine


By Skfsullivan @spectacularlyd

MacARTHUR PARK CAKE – IN HONOR OF DONNA SUMMERSince Donna Summer famously sang she’d “never have that recipe again,” we’ve created a recipe for MacArthur Park Cake that will endure. Yes, it does take a chunk of time to bake it, but I’m sure that we can take it, especially to celebrate the unbridled joy Donna’s heart-pounding anthems brough us back in those halcyon days of disco.

This triple-layer chocolate cake, flavored with orange zest and cinnamon, obviously has to have a sweet green icing flowing down. (White chocolate spiked with Chambord and a good dollop of green icing tint.)  Slivers of candied almond are layered in the orange buttercream frosting that serves as the undercoat for the layers of molten green glaze.

What better culinary tribute to the greatest disco diva of all time?

As you can see, the cake is quite a spectacle, but worry not, it is delightfully delicious to the very last note. err, crumb.  When Donna Summer left us, she left a hole in our hearts. Mourning her goes hand in hand with the sadness of the passing of a very special time in our lives. Yes kiddies, the 1970s and 1980s hold treasured memories for so many people of a certain age.  And as we now know, the fun wasn’t to last forever.

Love to Love You Baby was my first D.S. attention getter, but it was I Feel Love that cemented my first hard core Donna Summer addiction.

Still neither of these or any of her other hits come close to the rapture of her the epic 18 minute MacArthur Park Suite. Heaven knows, this dance track is the highest high of them all.

I remember blowing off my Friday classes at Washington U. in St. Louis and hightailing it up to Chicago for the MacArthur Park concert tour with Peter Croce.  As only Peter could have managed, we had a private box just a few feet from the stage. Donna descended a stairway flanked by a full orchestra (unheard of at the time), sending chills through the audience with the grand, ponderous  opening bars of MacArthur Park.  When the full beat kicked in a thousand fans fell into total rapture, which was wonderful but odd too since we were in an elegant concert hall and not in one of the grand discos of the era. I’m guessing this was 1979 or ’80.


Here’s a bit of folklore about that infamous cake, so carelessly left out in the rain, bringing Donna to the breaking point, because it took so long to bake and she’d never be able to recreate it, the recipe lost for all time.

Evidently songwriter Jimmie Webb was broken hearted when his girlfriend dumped him. Hearing she was getting married al fresco in L.A.’s MacArthur Park (named for the heroic general) he secreted himself in a nearby gardening shed to observe the proceedings undetected. Yes, it rained that day, hard and unexpected. The rivulets of raindrops rippling down the shed window created the illusion of the cake melting. He may have been high when he wrote the song. (Sheer conjecture on my part.)

But no doubt his love was strong and true for “After all the loves of my life you’ll still be the one, and I’ll ask myself why.” Bummer, dude!

Let’s roll back to the brighter, more hopeful lyrics when looking back on that lost time.

“There will be another song for me, for I will sing it; there will be another dream for me, some one will bring it… I will have the things that I desire and my passion flow like rivers through the sky…”

And to my beloved cake eaters husband Steve Russell and Kevin and Gena Bone, enjoying slices of the not-rained upon cake in their gorgeous Southampton backyard, Donna left us these words as well:

“Believe in us, we were always meant to be. Me for you and you for me, ’till eternity.
Heaven knows I only want to love you, Heaven knows I never want to lose you.”


Click here for the recipe for MacArthur Park Cake.


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