Gugelhupf cake

The cakes being sent to troops are German gugelhupfs, which look similar to a bundt cake. They have raisens and a hint of natural vanilla, as well as butter, flour and eggs. Nuts are left out to avoid complications with allergies.

Everyone enjoys a little cake now and then, but perhaps nobody more so than a person thousands of miles from home during the holidays. That’s why Marcie Baysinger of Hutchinson, a member of the Brownton American Legion Auxiliary Unit 143, has teamed with Operation Cakes for Troops 2019 to spread a little joy this Christmas season.

Operation Cakes is an endeavor initiated by Hiltrud Steimel, a German immigrant and founder of Rhineland Cake and Wine Co., who moved to Plymouth, Minnesota, many years ago. One Christmas she received a much-appreciated care package from her family back in Germany. It is that memory, along with a desire to recognize troops overseas, that spurred Steimel to initiate the “cakes for the troops” program in 2007. That first year, she shipped 500 German gugelhupf cakes, which look like bundt cakes and are similar to a sponge cake, but a little heavier and more moist.

“It’s a cake recipe that has been in my family for generations,” Steimel said, adding that nuts have been removed in case someone is allergic.

The responses of gratitude she received that first year from service members warmed Steimel’s heart, so she has continued Operation Cakes ever since. This year the goal is to send 750 cakes overseas, and that’s where Baysinger comes in.

Baysinger and her husband, Elmer, heard about Operation Cakes when Steimel gave a presentation during a Sons of the American Legion membership gathering earlier this year.

“I asked her how it works and what it is,” Baysinger said. “She told me it’s for our deployed soldiers. Our unit in Brownton has a soldier that is being deployed, so I guess that’s what got me involved in it.”

From that conversation, Steimel recruited Baysinger to spread the word about Operation Cakes.

Marcie Baysinger mug

Marcie Baysinger

“What I’m trying to do is get our local (veterans groups) to give me money to give to her to send cakes over to our troops,” Baysinger said.

“I think it’s a great idea,” she added. “Maybe because I came from a family of military and my husband was in Vietnam. That could be one of the main reasons why I got involved in this.”

While Baysinger has mostly been requesting donations from veterans groups, anybody can send a cake, she said.

“If you know someone who is over there, even if you don’t know someone who is over there, if you want to … have a cake sent over, she puts a little personal note on each cake that goes to a deployed soldier,” Baysinger said.

If you want to order a cake, call Baysinger at 320-583-6624 for more information. A donation of $40 per cake is needed to help defray the cost of making, packaging and shipping the cakes. The deadline for orders is Dec. 3. Cakes will be shipped Dec. 10 to ensure delivery by Dec. 22.

The cakes are made at Rush City Bakery, and owner John Bourgeois said his bakery is “honored and proud” to be part of the project. The cakes will immediately be frozen after baking and will remain frozen during shipment to preserve freshness.

And if you’re wondering if the cakes are any good, Baysinger and her husband can attest to that as well.

“Oh yes, in fact I got one slice out of half a cake and my husband ate the rest,” she said.

Chuck Rupnow of the Chaska Herald also contributed to this story.

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