Friday, October 11, 2013

A Hundred Years of Chocolate Cake.

Today, especially for the bakers amongst you, I am going to give you three recipes for chocolate cake from over a period of a hundred years.

First, from Miss Leslie's Lady's New Receipt-book (Philadelphia, 1852) a recipe involving some rather laborious work to scrape the compressed cacao and to beat the butter-sugar mixture until creamy, the egg whites until stiff, and the yolks until thick and smooth:

Chocolate Cake.
Scrape down three ounces of the best and purest chocolate, or prepared cocoa. Cut up, into a deep pan, three-quarters of a pound of fresh butter; add to it a pound of powdered loaf-sugar; and stir the butter and sugar together till very light and white. Have ready fourteen ounces (two ounces less than a pound) of sifted flour; a powdered nutmeg; and a tea-spoonful of powdered cinnamon—mixed together. Beat the whites of ten eggs till they stand alone; then the yolks till they are very thick and smooth. Then mix the yolks and whites gradually together, beating very hard when they are all mixed. Add the eggs, by degrees, to the beaten butter and sugar, in turn with the flour and the scraped chocolate,—a little at a time of each; also the spice. Stir the whole very hard. Put the mixture into a buttered tin pan with straight sides, and bake it at least four hours. If nothing is to be baked afterwards, let it remain in till the oven becomes cool. When cold, ice it.

And from almost fifty years later, a rather no-nonsense, very basic cake from an English newspaper, Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper (London, England), on Sunday, November 19, 1899

Chocolate Cake.
Half a pound of flour, quarter of a pound of sugar, quarter of a pound of butter, two eggs, three ounces of chocolate powder. Beat the butter and sugar together till the latter is dissolved, then beat in each egg separately. Mix the baking powder with the flour, and beat all together well, then add the chocolate powder and bake in a moderate oven.

And the grand finale – a “new type of chocolate cake” that won a prize in the third annual national Pillsbury baking contest in the USA for a Vassar-graduate turned housewife in 1951. The story comes from the New York Times of December 12, 1951.

A recipe that rings a new change on that old favorite, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting won $25,000 and a model General Electric kitchen yesterday for a 39-year old mother of two small boys, Mrs. S. P. Weston of La Jollie, Calif.
Starlight Double-Delight Cake, as it was called by Pillsbury Mills, which gave the top award in its third annual baking contest, calls for making a basic mixture of cream cheese, sugar, and chocolate, half of which is used in the cake batter itself, and the other half in the frosting. Even a kitchen novice will recognize that such a method represents something entirely new in home baking.
A graduate of Vassar College, class of ’34, Mrs. Weston, who wore a two-piece flaming red dress, said her main job now was “keeping house and minding my children.” Before her marriage she was a researcher at Solar Aircraft and a school teacher, and once she won an automatic washing machine in a soap contest. Asked her plans for using her award, she replied in a wide-smiling daze, that she just didn’t know.

Starlight Double-Delight Cake.
2 (3-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
½ cup shortening plus one-fourth cup of [recipe says milk, but this appears to be an error - from the instructions, this is meant to be shortening]
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
6 cups (pound and half) sifted confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup hot water
4 oz. melted chocolate
2 cups Pillsbury Best enriched flour.
1 ½ teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
¾ cup milk
1.      Cream together till fluffy the cream cheese, half-cup shortening, vanilla and peppermint extract. Blend half of the sugar into this mixture. Add the hot water alternately with the balance of sugar. Blend in the chocolate.
2.      Sift together the flour, soda, and salt.
3.      Combine the remaining fourth-cup shortening and half the creamed chocolate-cheese mixture (two cups.) Mix thoroughly. Blend in the eggs, one at a time. Beat for one minute.
4.      To this mixture add alternately with the milk the sifted dry ingredients (flour, soda, salt.) Begin and end with the dry ingredients. On an electric mixer, use low speed.
5.      Pour batter into two well-greased and lightly floured nine-inch round layer pans. Bake at 350 degrees F. for thirty to thirty-five minutes.

6.      Cook and frost with remaining chocolate-cream cheese mixture (two cups.) Note: all ingredients should be at room temperature.


Shay said...

Have you seen "Miss Parloa's Cocoa and Chocolate Recipes" on the Michigan State University website? Amazing what a difference 60 years and improvements in food manufacturing technology makes.

Anonymous said...

bake four hours? how hot was a typical oven in the mid 19th century?

--a n00b

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Shay - yes, it is a great book, isnt it? Thankgoodness for modern technology in the kitchen (mostly) I say!

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Anonymous. there were no oven thermomenters in the past, so cooks got very good at judging the temperature of their ovens. A large cake could take a few hours in a slow oven, I think, as with Christmas Cake.

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