August 4 ...
I came across a reference in a newspaper (American) from July 1925 of an ‘unusual cake’ which turned out to be an upside-down cake. The recipe suggested that any fruit could be used, but suggested pineapple because it produced a ‘novel effect’, and was also very wholesome.
So, as I am always interested in ‘First Recipes For ….’ I am setting up the challenge to find the first upside-down cake. You are expected to participate. The best I have been able to do is one from March 1923, in the Syracuse Herald. There must be earlier versions, as newspaper recipe columns usually respond to readers queries and current fashions.
This particular version from 1923 could arguably also have ‘a novel effect’ as it uses prunes (which are also at least as wholesome as pineapple, surely?). It appeared in a recipe column headed ‘Unusual Prune Dishes.'
Wash and soak the prunes in warm water for several hours: drain and remove pits; beat one egg till light, gradually add one-half cup of sugar; beat until creamy. Measue one cup sifted flour, sift again with one teaspoon baking powder; add to the egg mixture alternately with one quarter cup milk or water, beat well; add two tablespoons melted shortening, one teaspoon vanilla. Melt two tablespoons butter in a small iron frying pan: spread one half cup brown sugar evenly over pan, then one quarter cup chopped walnuts; cover with prunes, then pour on cake batter.
Bake in a moderate oven about 25 minutes. Will serve five persons.
The other thing that this recipe indicates to me is how much better, generally speaking, we are about recipe-writing these days. The instructions in this are a bit unclear – surely the cake is not cooked in the ‘small frying pan’, but the caramel-walnut mix is poured into the cake pan, then topped with prunes and cake batter? Also – can someone better at geometry or trigonometry or cake-cutting please tell me why this will serve five persons, not six, or eight? Or four greedies?
Quotation for the Day …
When my mother had to get dinner for eight she’d just make enough for sixteen and only serve half. Gracie Allen.