Friday, December 04, 2009

Depression Era Baking

This is one of my vintage booklets I managed to save after the tornado by drying it out on my wooden drying rack. I'm so glad I went to the effort-now it can hang around for another 70+ years.

Look at this photo from the back cover. I totally want to bake that one next-it is so beautiful.

I really like one paragraph recipes.

I split and filled the layers with spiced pear jam, but you could easily skip it.
Of course I frosted this by setting the cake on a rack over a baking sheet-what sort of an idiot do you take me for? As I always tell Danny, "Cleaning a pan is easier than cleaning a counter." Words to live by.

The recipe for the cake comes from a booklet published by Calumet baking powder in 1934. I get the sense, looking at recipes from that time that eggs were quite expensive as most recipes will note how many were required, and sometimes offer more economical substitutions. Butter and cream were apparently cheap and abundant.

I had some cream that needed to be used, and since the previous owner had marked this recipe in the booklet, I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did. I spent five whole minutes making this cake, and then fifty minutes in the oven. Straightforward, clear instructions and standard pan sizes go a long way towards influencing me to try something new. I skipped the chocolate frosting in favour of a cooked penuche style ( oh, let's be honest-I wanted the leftover frosting to chill and eat like fudge. I like penuche fudge.) that I dressed up with some holiday jimmies. Lookin' pretty damn festive around here, eh? Indeed it is.

I'll save myself typing out the cake recipe as it is legible in the photo and instead give you the frosting details. I split my cake in half, and filled it with spiced pear jam I canned last Fall. Oh, that's good stuff. Anyway, you could certainly skip filling it and really, even frosting seems unneeded. Danny helped me polish off the scraps from trimming and leveling the cake, and we were both pretty pleased with it, "as is."

The penuche frosting recipe comes from the little red, not that little red book-I mean the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, 1950. Chairman Betty suggests you sing "Raise The Red Flag" as you stir because it almost sounds like "Oh Tannenbaum" .

You Will Need:

2 2/3 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup butter
1/3 teaspoon salt

Stir constantly over low heat to a boil, then boil rapidly to 220 degrees F. Remove from heat and beat until it is lukewarm and reaches a spreading consistency. Pour extra into a buttered pan and chill, then cut into squares as candy. For god's sake, don't throw it out.


Lulu said...

Okay...that cake looks amazing! However, I would be very interested in the Hungarian Chocolate Frosting recipe, apparently on page 18. Would you mind at all commenting back with that recipe?

BTW...I stumbled across your blog while looking up marischino cake recipes. I made it, and gracious God, is it delicious!!

Most awesome blog by the way.

Goody said...

I'm so glad you liked the cherry cake. My little boy is just crazy for maraschino cherries...good thing I'm not worried about preservatives and food colouring.

The frosting recipe uses egg yolks that I would not consider cooked enough to prevent all the bad things raw eggs can cause. If you're confident of your egg source, or have a very strong constitution, here's the recipe.

Hungarian Chocolate Frosting:

3 squares (1 oz. each)unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons hot water
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons butter

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from boiling water, add sugar and water and blend. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each amount. Makes enough to cover tops and sides of two 9 inch layers, or top and sides of 8x8x2 cake (generously) or top and sides of 10x10x2 inch cake, or about 2 dozen cupcakes.

Lulu said...

Thanks so much! And yeah, not so sure about the raw eggs, although I tend to take my chances when eating eggs over medium at the Waffle House! Maybe I'll give it a try...

Cheryl said...

Omigosh, I haven't had penuche in ages, and this looks fantastic.