Monday, February 18, 2008

The Week o’Cakes: Day 1.

February 18

I have declared this a Week of Cakes, because I know that most of you, really, truly , prefer recipes for cake over recipes for the likes of medieval Boar’s Head, Victorian Soup for the Poor and Pie of Lamb Stones. Each day I will give you two recipes, with very little in the way of commentary, as (a) it is hardly necessary – a cake is a cake, and there is very little more that has to be said about them, and (b) I am time-pressured at present, so perhaps I can save some (where, actually, does one save Time to?)

If you try one of these Retro Cakes, do please let us all know how they turn out.

When I started making my selections, it became obvious very quickly that America became the new Land of Cakes (sorry, Scotland) in the first half of the twentieth century. The women’s pages of newspapers almost every week seemed to report some exciting new cake that was taking luncheon parties by storm. Some of them will make an appearance here this week.

Firstly, a simple little gem from Cakes, Cookies, and Confections, a little gem from the California Home Economics Association in 1920.

Hot Lemonade Cake.
1 ½ c. sugar
6 eggs
rind of 1 lemon
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp.bitter almond flavoring
½ c. almonds or walnuts, ground fine.
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ c. sifted bread crumbs.
Beat yolks, add sugar gradually: bread crumbs, baking powder, grated lemon rind and flavoring. Fold the whites in last. Bake in a square pan in a slow oven one hour. When cake is removed from pan, pour over it one cup of very strong boiling lemonade*.

*Presumably in the 1920’s home-made lemonade was intended, not the commercial lemon-less fizzy stuff that goes by that name today. So as not to spoil your cake, here is a very useful recipe.

Lemon Syrup, for making lemonade on desert or mountain, or wherever you are, “fifty miles from a lemon”.
Three cups lemon juice, strained; juice of six oranges. Put into saucepan on stove; when boiling add two cups sugar, let it boil about five minutes, taking off any scum which may arise; pour while hot into screw-top bottles. It can be made entirely of lemon juice if desired. Put some in a glass of water and add sugar to suit the taste, as it is not very sweet. One can make a variety by adding a little strawberry or loganberry preserve juice when using the lemonade, or it can be put in while the syrup is cooling.

From an Ohio newspaper in 1928 comes this interesting and very adaptable idea.

Blackberry [Jam] Cake.
Cream two-thirds of a cupful of butter, add one and one half cupfuls of sugar, the yolks of four eggs and two thirds of a cupful of buttermilk to which a teaspoonful of soda has been added. Add two and one half cupfuls of flour, a teaspoonful each of cinnamon, cloves and allspice, beat well, add one cupful of blackberry jelly or jam, then fold in the stiffly beaten whites of the eggs and bake in layers.

I rather think it might be good with marmalade.

Tomorrow’s Story ...

Cake Day No. 2

Quotation for the Day ...

We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. Alfred E. Newman.


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

I have spent the day struggle to reproduce an historic cake from the post-Civil War era (see tomorrow's post) so I am quite pleased to simply sit back and enjoy reading the recipes you have presented for the debut of the Week of Cakes! Once I get my energy back, I may well try that Blackberry Jam Cake.

Ferdzy said...

I've made cakes with both jam and marmalade, and they were very good. However the jam replaced any other sugar - that's how I came to make the cake. I was a poor student and wanted to make a cake, but had run out of sugar. However I did have half a jar of forgotten marmalade...

Shay said...

There is a southern recipe for Jam Cake that I make occasionally; with caramel frosting. It goes back probably to the 1920's. Tastes like spice cake.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Shay - jam cake with caramel frosting sounds great. Is it a family recipe?