Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year Cakes (1889-1964)

The history of Leap Year Cakes has been place on my “to be researched” list – which is admittedly impossibly long. I have a selection of recipes for them for you today, and cannot help drawing your attention to the fact that the first several are from church cook books. Please comment on this interesting phenomenon.

Leap Year Cake.
Mrs. J. T. Read, Pawtucket, R. I.
One cup sugar, ½ cup butter (scant), ½ cup milk, 1 ½ cups flour, whites of 3 eggs beaten, 1 teaspoonful baking powder mixed in flour; frosting, yolks of 3 eggs with 10 tablespoonfuls of fine sugar, well beaten; flavor all with vanilla.
What the Baptist Brethren Eat and How the Sisters Serve It
(1889, Port Huron, Mich.)

Leap Year Cake
[Mrs. G. C. Burnham]
1 cup sugar.                                       ½ cup butter.
½ cup milk.                                      1 ¾ cups flour.
Whites of 3 eggs.                              1 heaping teaspoonful baking powder
1 teaspoonful extract lemon.

Frost with Chocolate Frosting No. 6.

Chocolate Frosting No. 6
Yolks of 2 eggs                                  8 tablespoons of powdered sugar
1 cake of melted chocolate              1 teaspoonful of vanilla
Cookery Craft: As Practiced in 1894 by the Women
of the South Church, St Johnsbury, Vt.

Leap Year Cake.
Mrs. Charlie Tibbets.
Whites of three eggs, one cup of sugar, one-half cup of butter warmed, one-half cup of milk, one-half teaspoonful of soda, one teaspoonful cream tartar, one and one-half cups flour.
Twelve tablespoonfuls pulverized sugar, yolks of three eggs. Beat thoroughly and put on cake while warm.
The New Church cook book (1902, Aglaia Club, Brockton, Mass.)

Leap Year Cake.
Twelve ozs. flour, six ozs. sugar, eight ozs. butter, one tablespoonful milk, grated rind of one lemon, five eggs, half teaspoonful baking powder, half lb. glazed cherries, two ozs. almonds. Cream sugar and butter well, add eggs alternately with dry ingredients, with exception of the almonds, and half the cherries. Bake in a deep round tin. When poured into the tin arrange the almonds, which should be blanched and cut in half, upright, leaving room between each nut for a cherry. Bake for one-and-a-quarter hours in a slow oven.
The Sunday Times (Perth, W.A.) April 12, 1908

Leap Year Cake.
One pound dates, 1lb. currants, 1lb. sultanas, 1lb. chopped almond, 1 tablespoon preserved ginger (cut fine), ½ lb. sugar, 2 tablespoons golden syrup, 3 eggs, ¾ lb. butter, 1 ¼ lb. plain flour, 1 teaspoon carb. soda, a little nutmeg.
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, one at a time, and mix in golden syrup. Then mix in plain flour (to which carb. soda and nutmeg have been added), and lastly add fruit and nuts cut fine (if desired). Bake in a slow oven for 3 hours. This cake will keep for six months.
Australian Women’s Weekly, 15 February, 1936

Leap Year Cake
Make up a two-layer cake from your favourite recipe, or use packaged cake mix. Join layers with whipped cream. Frost cake with whipped cream into which a little pink colouring has been blended.
Cut out a large heart-shape from marshmallow, place in centre of cake. Pipe “29” in centre of heart with pink whipped cream, icing, or melted chocolate.
Marshmallow: One ounce gelatine, ½ cup cold water, 1 lb. sugar, ¾ cup boiling water, 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Soak gelatine in cold water. Place sugar and boiling water in saucepan, bring to the boil, add softened gelatine: boil 15 minutes. Cool, add flavoring. Beat until white and thick.Pour into lightly greased tin: leave until set.
Cut a large heart-shape from paper, dampen so it won’t stick, place on top of marshmallow, and cut around. Carefully life out with spatula and place in centre of cake.
Australian Women’s Weekly, February 26, 1964

Previous Leap Year posts:

Bachelor Cooking

Leap Year Day with the Baron (from one of the few “every day in the year” books to acknowledge Leap Year; has 366 menus and recipes)

Not leap year post but the title justifies its inclusion!
Old Maid’s Pie [1948]


Elise Fleming/Alys K. said...

The first three remind me of medieval recipes. The ingredients are there, but not what to do with them or how to bake said cake. It's assumed that you know what to do - you just need an "aide memoire" for what to put in the cake. Fascinating!

Robin Spano said...

Were they only to be eaten on Leap Day? And were there perhaps meals easpecially for Leap Day also? The idea of having a meal and/or dessert only to be prepared only on Leap Day is very enticing.

John Benson said...

This is awesome. It's my grandfather's birthday today. Think I'll bake a cake in his memory.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Elise - yes, I guess it was assumed that a housewife of the time would not need method instructions!
Robin: I dont know of any other foods specifically eaten on Leap Year Day, but I will see what I can find for four years' time!
John: A special cake every four years would be a lovely way of remembering your grandfather.