It is some time since I gave you a vintage cake recipe, and I know that is what many of you love best. Of course, you can always fly in your quickest electronic fashion over to T.W’s Retro Cake series, if you are seriously deprived.
In 1876-7, the New York Times ran a series called ‘Receipts for the Table’, and on December 1876, they featured this gem:
Two cupfuls sugar, one cupful butter, one cupful milk, four cupfuls flour, four eggs, one teaspoonful cream tarter, half teaspoonful soda; have two tins ready of equal size; put one third in each and bake. To the other third add three teaspoonfuls molasses, one cupful currants, and a little citron and spice to suit, and bake in same size tin; then done put a layer of light, then a layer of jelly, then dark, then jelly, then light; lay a pice of paper on top, and turn it over on one of the tins and press it with two flat irons till cold.
Now, once you have overcome the very counter-intuitive idea of weighting down an ordinary cake, this concept lends itself to a myriad variations. The idea is so good, that recipes were still popping up in 1915. Here is a honey and spice variation, also from the New York Times, on
December 19, 1915 – this one with no mention of pressing the finished cake (or is that a given? Is there a ribbon-cake expert out there?).
Ribbon Cake (2).
Half a cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup milk, 3 ½ cups flour, 5 teaspoonfuls baking powder, 1 ½ teaspoonfuls ground cardamom seed, 1 ½ teaspoons ginger, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspooon cloves, ½ cup raisins, seeded and cut in pieces; ½ cup figs, finely chopped, 1 tablespoon honey, and 4 eggs.
Rub the butter and sugar together and add the yolks of the eggs. Sift together the flour and baking powder and add them to the mixture, alternating them with the milk. Finally, add the whites of the eggs, well beaten. Bake two thirds of the mixture in two layer-cake pans. To the remainder add the spices, fruit, honey, and bake. Put the layers together with crystallized honey.
There are a lot of very colourful Christmas-themed possibilities here!
Have fun, and if you make a ribbon cake over the holiday season, do let us all know in the comments.
I just might feature some more ideas from the Receipts for the Table series this week, in case you want to have a 1876 Christmas.
P.S The Vintage Christmas Recipes archive is HERE.
Quotation for the Day …
Don't expect too much of Christmas Day. You can't crowd into it any arrears of unselfishness and kindliness that may have accrued during the past twelve months.