Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Making Cakes and Chili Sauce.

I have recently been trolling (for recipes of course) some of the American newspapers digitised by the Library of Congress. Many of the newspapers are aimed at particular social and ethnic groups. There is a real treasure-trove available here: there are French and German language papers, papers for Jewish readers and Irish readers, and papers with titles such as The Colored American, and the Indian Advocate. As far as I can determine from my admittedly limited readings, many of the articles are taken from the larger newspapers of the cities, and to date I have not been able to find any cookery columns with local content – perhaps because local readers did not need instructions for their own special dishes.

Nevertheless, there are some interesting gleanings. The following general article on cake-making in the days of wood-fired ovens appeared in The Spanish American of November 07, 1914.

Cases Where Rendered Beef or Veal Fat May Be Substituted for Butter –
Introducing Variety Into the Confections.
There are, generally speaking, only two kinds of cake made by the American housewife; namely, sponge cakes and butter cakes. The former never have butter in them and are frequently raised entirely by means of eggs. The eggs usually provide the only moisture used, but when eggs are expensive, economy sometimes demands that water be added and baking powder used. In the latter kind, butter is generally used on account of its flavor. Its effect on dough is to make it tender and brittle instead of tough and elastic.
Sponge cakes are mixed differently from butter cakes and should be baked in a cooler oven, and about one and one-fourth times as long. The tests and rules for baking are the same for sponge cakes and butter cakes.
Gingerbread and other highly spiced cakes may be classed as “butter cakes,” but for economy’s sake pure rendered beef or veal fat may be substituted for butter as the flavor of the fat will not be so evident as in other kinds of cakes.
A cooky also comes under the class of “butter cakes,” any butter cake recipe being applicable to cookies if only one-third to one-half the amount of milk called for is used.
Much variety can be made in cakes by introducing fruits, nuts, spices, or different flavoring extracts into the dough, or by using only the whites of eggs for white cakes or a larger number of yolks than whites for yellow cakes. Brown sugar may be used for dark fruit cake.
Pastry flour will make lighter and more tender cake than standard flour. If standard flour is used take take two tablespoonsfuls less for each cupful measured. In making cake only fine granulated or powdered sugar should be used as a rule.
If a wood or coal fire is used there should be a small or moderate-sized fire, but one that will last without much addition through the baking. Regulate the oven long enough before the cake is to go in to have the dampers adjusted as they are to remain throughout the baking. If this is not done  the dampers must be changed to regulate the heat during the baking, and the cake will not be so well bake. Most cakes can be at once removed from the pan when baked, but very rich and dark fruit cake will be liable to break unless allowed to stand about five minutes.

The article directly following the above was this:

Spicy Chili Sauce.
To make chili sauce cut 24 tomatoes up in small pieces and cook as for the table. Run twelve green peppers and eight onions through the meat chopper. Rub the tomatoes through a sieve or colander and have the peppers and onions ready to add to the tomatoes, with two tablespoonfuls each of ground cinnamon, ground cloves and allspice, four tablespoonfuls of brown sugar, four tablespoonfuls of salt and three quarts of cider vinegar. Mix all together and boil for three hours. Put, when hot, int sterilized jars or bottles and keep in a cool place.

I cannot help but notice the complete absence of hot chilis in this recipe. There is clearly some national variation in the understanding of the concept of ‘chili sauce,’ which in Australia would be assumed to be chili-hot. But then we would spell it ‘chilli sauce.’ We also call ‘peppers’ by the name of ‘capsicums’, so this sauce would probably be named ‘Tomato-Capsicum Sauce.’ We are indeed divided by a common language.


Chaz Brenchley said...

"Green peppers" might mean "hot green peppers" rather than the bell peppers that I (as a Brit) and presumably you would understand. That certainly happens here in California these days.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of very hot green peppers that are commonly grown in the U.S. "Green peppers" does not necessarily mean bell peppers, or mild peppers.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks ladycelia - it is always good to get local knowledge!