The blog author, Rose Thornton, recently posted a great 1903 ad for Dunham’s Cocoanut, with swoopy Art Nouveau lines surrounding a picture of “Cocoanut Cream Bars,” and the “Candy Receipt” that would produce the delectable desserts.
Browsing around Google Books for some more Dunham’s ads, I came across the same recipe from 1901, in a much less exuberant design—not a hint of Art Nouveau in it. This one has more text and so the instructions are fleshed out a bit more. It’s also credited to the (then) very famous Mrs. Rorer, who compiled a recipe booklet or two for Dunham’s. (Unfortunately, the ad is a bit blurry, but at least it’s still readable.)
Interestingly, while the 1903 ad uses the old-fashioned term “receipt,” the 1901 ad just says “recipe.” (Speaking of language/spelling changes, I wonder why “cocoanut” became “coconut” sometime during the 20th century.)
The recipe itself is pretty straightforward; boil a sugar syrup until it “will form into a ball when dropped in cold water”—soft ball stage, 235Â° Fâ€“240Â° F. Then remove it from the heat, let it stand briefly, and then stir it against the side of the pan with a spoon, which should give you some crystallization. Then stir it all together and mix in the coconut quickly. (Judging from some of my previous experiences making a very similar old-fashioned fudge recipe, they aren’t kidding when they tell you to work quickly here. The stuff can thicken up fast.) It should be tasty, if tooth-achingly sweet.
Christmas might be a good time to try this one. If you do, please share how it went.
Christmastime is the perfect time to investigate old-timey recipes. Finding time to cook them is another story, however. But I can still look for ideas.
I’ve never actually had a plum pudding. I know that they aren’t common in the United States, or at least, not in the Pacific Northwest, where I live. Is it that the recipe is old-fashioned, or is it just that it was never popular in this country?
Looking for something Christmasy, I stumbled on a book with the substantial title: Dr. Chase’s Third, Last and Complete Receipt Book and Household Physician, Or Practical Knowledge for the People: From the Life-Long Observations of the Author, embracing the Choicest, Most Valuable and Entirely New Receipts in Every Department of Medicine, Mechanics, and Household Economy; including a Treatise on the Diseases of Women And Children. In Fact, The Book for the Million. With Remarks and Explanations which adapt it to the Every-day Wants of the People, Arranged in Departments and most Copiously Indexed, by A. W. Chase, M. D., the “Memorial Edition” published in 1891, after Dr. Chase’s death.
Dr. Chase includes six different “receipts” (recipes) for plum pudding, and devotes space to many other different puddings, too. A whole chapter in the book is devoted to puddings, including such odd concoctions to our eyes as Pop-Corn Pudding, Salt Pork Pudding, and “Hunter’s Pudding, Boiled—Will Keep for Months.” There is much Resurrected Recipes fodder to be found here, though I imagine we will stay away from the Salt Pork Pudding.
One of the plum pudding recipes is written, charmingly, in verse:
Plum Pudding to Englishmen’s Taste, No. 3, In Rhyme.—
To make plum-pudding to Englishmen’s taste,
So all may be eaten and nothing to waste,
Take of raisins, and currants, and bread-crumbs all round;
Also suet from oxen, and flour a pound,
Of citron well candied, or lemon as good,
With molasses and sugar, eight ounces, I would,
Into this first compound, next must be hasted
A nutmeg well grated, ground ginger well tasted,
With salt to preserve it, of such a teaspoonful;
Then of milk half a pint, and of fresh eggs take six;
Be sure after this that you properly mix.
Next tie up in a bag, just as round as you can,
Put into a capacious and suitable pan,
Then boil for eight hours just as hard as you can.
Here is the recipe that Dr. Chase specifically mentions for Christmas:
Christmas Plum-Pudding, No. 6, Old Style.—Stone 1 1/2 lbs. of raisins, wash, pick and dry 1/2 lb. of currants, mince fine 3/4 lb. of suet, cut into thin slices 1/2 lb. of mixed peel (orange and lemon), and grate fine 3/4 lb. of bread-crumbs. When all these dry ingredients are prepared; mix them well together, then moisten the mixture with 8 eggs, well beaten, and one wine-glass of brandy; stir well, that everything may be thoroughly blended, and press the pudding into a buttered mould; tie it down tightly with a floured cloth, and boil 6 hours. On Christmas day a sprig of holly is usually placed in the middle of the pudding, and about a wine-glass of brandy poured round it, which, at the moment of serving, is lighted, and the pudding thus brought to the table encircled in flames.
Remarks.—With half-a-dozen plum-puddings none need go without a Christmas day, certainly. The only point that seems to me unreasonable is the long boiling, 8, or even 6 hours, which appears to be more than is needed. A circle of three ladies, to whom I referred the matter, gave it as their judgment that 3 hours would be sufficient. Let English people stick to the old custom, but Americans will find that from 3 to 4 hours will cook them perfectly. [See the Paradise Pudding below, which is only to be boiled 2 hours.] A wine-glass, at least, of brandy is almost universally put into the sauce upon Christmas occasions.
I probably won’t make these, as suet is one of those things that I don’t eat. (Maybe we can talk Kristen into it…) I challenge you all to try one of these recipes, and let us know how they turn out.
This week, after much delay, I finally got around to making the long-awaited Malted Milk Cake. (Recipe is in yesterday’s post at the link.)
The original source cited by the Old Foodie, as I mentioned yesterday, is apparently a 1937 American newspaper article, though I don’t know which newspaper. I have not been able to find it. The earliest Malted Milk Cake recipe I’ve been able to find is here, but though the book is claimed to be a reprint of a 1900 version of A Book of Practical Recipes for the Housewife, it’s not likely to be that old. The “Frozen Cookies” recipe on page 63 refers to a “mechanical refrigerator,” which wouldn’t have been available for household use in 1900. There are versions of this cookbook elsewhere online that are dated in the 1920s and 1930s, such as this one dated 1923. For this experiment, I’ll stick with the Old Foodie’s recipe, but maybe I’ll try the Practical Recipe version another time.
The only change I made to the 1937 recipe was slightly increasing the amount of vanilla.
I mixed the cake batter, and I must say, it was really, really good. (I know I’m not supposed to taste cake batter with raw eggs! But it’s so good!) It was a lovely light brown color and had a gentle chocolate malt flavor.
The cakes baked beautifully. I had to cook them an extra 10 minutes, but my oven temperature often runs a bit low so this wasn’t surprising. The kitchen smelled wonderful. So far, the recipe looked like a success.
Then came the Chocolate Malted Milk Topping. T. W. Barritt at the Culinary Types blog has also made this recipe, and said about the topping in 1920s slang, “The icing is just a bit ornery and doesnâ€™t hit on all sixes.” I agree. The gelatin/evaporated milk/malted milk/sugar combo whips into what looks like a really nice, smooth icing, but it’s definitely ornery, as well as not quite as much as I would have liked to cover the cake.
When whipped—with an old-fashioned non-electric egg beater, since I didn’t want to wake a sleeping housemate—the icing is smooth and glossy and liquidy. But it nearly immediately sets back up into something gloppy. It is chilled gelatin, after all. It is very difficult to spread it nicely once it does this. In retrospect, I wonder if pouring it over the top of the cake immediately after whipping it to a smooth liquid state would have worked better.
Once assembled, though, the cake looked reasonably nice, as you can see in the photo. I put in in the ol’ ice box (well, “mechanical refrigerator”) to chill.
The cake itself is wonderful. It is light, and not too sweet, with a malted chocolate flavor that doesn’t overpower you. It doesn’t taste like a Whopper, for example, which is all overwhelming sweetness and waxy “mockolate.” It’s just got a well-balanced malted milk flavor. I would make the cake again, any time.
The icing is another story. It wasn’t just that it was kind of annoying to work with. I can live with that. But the gelatin was also problematic for textural and flavor reasons. The topping seemed just a little too stiff and rubbery once it set up, and I could taste just the tiniest taste of plain gelatin behind the sugar, malt, and milk flavors. It’s weird—I don’t notice that taste if I have, say, flavored Jell-O. But I definitely taste it here, and that touch of gelatin flavor puts me off the topping just a bit.
Considering the results of the earlier Tomato Jelly Salad experiment, I’m beginning to think that I just have a problem with gelatin in general. It’s a good thing I didn’t grow up in the 1920s or 30s.
Kristen and Jason were also guinea pigs for this recipe. Jason liked it, but thought the cake was slightly dry. He didn’t notice the issues with the icing that I did. Kristen liked the cake, but, like me, did not care for the icing.
Despite the icing not being to my taste, the cake overall is a success. Next time, different icing: something light, to match the lightness of the cake, and without gelatin. Last week I made a lemon ice box cake that had frosting made from whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice. It was light and delicious. I wonder how something like that, with malt and chocolate substituted for the lemon, would work with this cake.
The Gold-N-Sno cake seems to have been a cake that was mostly made by bakeries, not by home bakers. When bakeries advertised the Gold-N-Sno cake, they frequentlylisted another cake that caught my eye as well… a Malted Milk Cake. I love the flavor of chocolate malted milk. Chocolate malts, Maltesers (Whoppers may substitute in a pinch, but Maltesers are so much better), whatever. I love it. And it’s a flavor that can be hard to find sometimes.
I went looking for a malted milk cake recipe, and soon found a recipe at The Old Foodie, who says it’s from an American newspaper article in 1937.
Chocolate Malted Milk Cake.
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 cup chocolate malted milk [powder]
3 teaspoons tartrate baking powder OR:
2 ¼ teaspoons double-action baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup soft shortening
1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
½ cup evaporated milk
½ cup water.
Light oven and set at moderate (350F) temperature. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Sift before measuring the cake flour and re-sift with the chocolate malted milk, baking powder and salt. Cream together until light and fluffy the shortening and sugar. Beat in vigorously the egg and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture alternately with the evaporated milk diluted with water. Begin and end with the flour mixture, beating until smooth after each addition. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes in moderate oven (350F) or until cakes shrink from the sides of pans. When cool, put together with;
Chocolate Malted Milk Topping.
1 ½ teaspoons plain gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup evaporated milk
6 tablespoons chocolate malted milk [powder]
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
Soak the gelatin in the cold water for five minutes. Scald [the evaporated milk] over boiling water. Add soaked gelatin and stir until dissolved. Pour into bowl or freezing tray of mechanical refrigerator and chill until icy cold. Whip until stiff with rotary beater or electric mixer at high speed. Fold in the malted milk and sugar. Spread between and on top of cake. Chill.
No problem. I figured I’d just run down to the store and get some chocolate malted milk.
Oops. That was harder than expected. Sometime in the last few years, most, if not all, of the grocery stores in Seattle that used to carry chocolate malted milk powder have stopped. Most of them still have the plain malted milk, but not the chocolate. The only store that carried it, as far as I could find, was the Amazon Fresh delivery service—but they didn’t serve our area at the time.
My friend Amie stepped in with an offer to order the malted milk from Amazon Fresh for me. With the chocolate malted milk finally at hand, I would have made the cake. By then, however, my kitchen was in a thousand pieces and in no condition for cake baking.
So here we are, nearly a year later, and the time has finally come for the malted milk cake. (And since then, Amazon Fresh has stopped carrying the malted milk as well! Good thing I saved it for this cake.) Stay tuned for the results of this experiment.
It’s 1934, and we have a new GE refrigerator, or maybe we’re thinking of another new kitchen appliance. What will we do with our wonderful new electric kitchen helpers, and what should our new kitchen look like?
Time to browse The New Art:
This cookbook/wish book showcased kitchens with GE appliances, and included recipes. It includes the recipes from the earlier Silent Hostess cookbook, along with other recipes to play to the strengths of other GE appliances besides the refrigerators.
First, they give you a few new 1934 model kitchens to drool over: