Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Retro Cookbook.

Today, August 28th

That intrepid Retro Cake cook, T.W. Barritt of Culinary Types has asked for some information on a cookbook in his possession. It is a 1930’s copy of The American Woman's Cookbook edited by Ruth Berolzheimer.

Well, this one was an interesting challenge, T.W.!

Ruth Berolzheimer died in 1965 after a long and illustrious career as a “cooking and child welfare expert” (according to her obituary). She was for years the director of the Culinary Arts Institute, and the editor/author of a number of books.

The The American Woman's Cookbook was originally published in 1939 (or perhaps 1938?) by the directors of the College of Home Economics of Cornell University, under the auspices of the Delineator Institute – and it seems that it was descended from an earlier Delineator Cookbook. The Delineator Cookbook in turn was derived from a fashion magazine called The Delineator, which was originally produced in the 1870’s by the Butterick sewing pattern company.

The book contains over 10,000 recipes, and went to many printings of many editions. From the outset was considered a trustworthy and comprehensive resource, and I was delighted to find that for those of us not lucky enough to own a real copy, there is an online version available via the Internet Archive. So – thankyou for the idea, T.W, it has led me to a new resource.

Naturally, in view of T.W’s interest in baking, I have to give you a couple of classical cake recipes from the book.

One-Two-Three-Four Cake (Measure Cake)
1 cup butter or other shortening
2 cups sugar
3 cups sifted cake flour
4 eggs, separated
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolks 1at a time, beating thoroughly after each one is added. Sift dry ingredients together 3 times and add alternately with milk and vanilla to creamed mixture, beating until smooth after each addition. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into pans linedwith waxed paper and bake in moderate oven (350F.) 25 minutes. Makes 3 (9 -inch) layers.

Old-Fashioned Poundcake
1 pound butter (2 cups)
1 pound sifted cake flour (4 cups)
10 eggs, separated
1 pound sugar (2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter, work in flour until mixture is mealy. Beat egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until thick and fluffy. Add first mixture gradually, beating thoroughly. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Beat vigorously 5 minutes. Bake in 2 loaf pans lined with waxed paper, in a moderately slow oven (325F.) 1 ¼ hours. Makes 2 loaves (8x4 inches).

Tomorrow’s Story …

Duck Egg Ideas.

Quotation for the Day …

I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad. George Bernard Shaw


T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Such an interesting background - thank you for a thorough investigation! I had no idea of the lineage. My copy is well-used, kitchen stains and all. I'll bet that with a little time, you could even deduce who originally owned my copy!

Katie K said...

Somehow it seems dubious to fold in egg whites (albeit stiff ones) and then beat the batter for 5 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post and your excellent site in general. Very helpful as I try to track down the influences on my grandmother's cooking. She learnt baking at YWCA classes in the 1930s and read American women's magazines like McCalls in the 1960s. Am putting up her cooking notes & recipes here: http://nicerecipes.wordpress.com

ross said...

I actually own a copy of the American Woman's Cook Book. I would beware of any vook with a recipe for a peanut butter and onion sandwich in which you are required to beat through mayonnaise! I do romanticise about these old books but working in the food publishing industry I am also aware that many of these old cooking tomes lacked a food editor so although the intentions are good, many of the recipes are badly written and simply dont work. This wont stop me from buying them!

Anonymous said...

I also have The American Woman's Cookbook which belonged to my mother. It was the first cookbook I learned to cook with at the age of 10 years old. The cover is green and in need of fixing. My son is asking that I pass it on to him.

I knew it had to be at least 75 years old since I am now 74.

It lives on Cape Cod with me since we moved here in 1969.

Betty C

Anonymous said...

At an estate sale I picked up a The American womans cook book 1939, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, the book is in great shape and there were recipes from the paper from july 1960 before I was born. What a great book.