The Golden Rod Cake, revisited

Back in January I discussed the Golden Rod Cake and the pan used to bake it. We did find several recipes, but were left wondering about what the cake was supposed to look like, and about the origin of the name. I have since found a tiny bit more information about this elusive cake.

This photo of Waldorf Triangles and their triangular pan is from American Cookery, April, 1921, p. 680. It accompanies this recipe:

Waldorf Triangles

Beat the yolks of six eggs very light; gradually beat into these half a cup of granulated sugar, then two tablespoonfuls of orange juice. Lastly, add half a cup of sifted flour, sifted again with a level teaspoonful of baking powder and a few grains of salt. Put the mixture into Waldorf Triangle pans and bake in a moderate oven. As soon as the cakes are turned from the pan cover the sides with boiled frosting and sprinkle with fine-chopped pistachio nuts.

This should sound familiar, because it is nearly word-for-word the same as the recipe “Goldenrod Cake for Charlotte Russe Moulds and Waldorf Triangles” that the Boston Cooking School published in an earlier version of their magazine in 1904 and 1905, and that I included in my earlier post. One of the 1904-1905 recipes includes the boiled frosting and pistachio nuts, but the other does not. The older recipes also do not refer to the pans by name as “Waldorf Triangle pans.”

The title of the early Boston Cooking School recipes seems to be pretty clear that this is a recipe for Goldenrod Cake that can be used to make Waldorf Triangles. Other early recipes, however, do not mention the pistachios, and frequently mention orange icing.

The Rocky Mountain Cook Book: for High Altitude Cooking (1918 edition of a 1903 cookbook) includes a nearly identical one to the BCS recipe:

Golden Rod Cake.

Beat the yolks of six eggs till light; gradually beat into these one-half cup of sugar, then two tablespoonfuls of orange juice and one-half cup of sifted flour, sifted again with a level teaspoonful of baking powder and one-fourth teaspoonful of salt; bake in small cakes and cover with orange icing.

This is the same as the BCS “Goldenrod Cake for Charlotte Russe Moulds and Waldorf Triangles” and the later American Cookery “Waldorf Triangles” recipe, with one exception — the end. No mention of boiled icing sprinkled with pistachios, just orange icing. Could the pistachios be the defining characteristic of Waldorf Triangles? One of the BCS recipes doesn’t mention them either. Perhaps the cakes are Golden Rod Cakes if they have orange icing (or none?) and Waldorf Triangles if they have pistachios.

(Incidentally, the author of The Rocky Mountain Cook Book, Caroline Trask Norton, was a graduate of the Boston School of Domestic Science, so perhaps it should not be surprising that the recipe is similar to the BCS version.)

The recipe in 365 Orange Recipes: An Orange Recipe for Every Day in the Year is called “Goldenrod Cake” and says “Bake in goldenrod pans and when cold ice with the following Icing,” going on to describe an icing made from orange rind, egg, sugar, water, orange and lemon juice, and “sugar to make as thick as fondant.” The icing is then colored orange.

There are a couple more references to these recipes that could add clarity to the situation, or perhaps just muddy it further.

The Boston Cooking-School Magazine October 1905, p.174, has this recipe:

Waldorf Triangles

Prepare the goldenrod cake mixture given on page 91 of August-September, 1904, issue of the magazine. Bake this in goldenrod pans (it will take two pans, each holding six triangles). When the cakes are baked, cover the sides with confectioner’s frosting or with fondant, then sprinkle with blanched pistachio nuts, chopped fine.

The implication here is that Golden Rod cakes become Waldorf Triangles by the addition of frosting and chopped pistachios.

Then there is What To Cook and How To Cook It 1899, by Mrs. W. A. Johnson of Paris, Kentucky. In the appendix, on page 282-283, we find:

Waldorf Triangles or Golden Rod Cake.

One-fourth cup of butter, one cup of confectioner’s sugar, one-half cup of milk, two cups of flour, one level teaspoon of baking powder, two eggs, the grated rind and juice of one orange. Bake in orange quarter baking pans. Put a small quantity in each section and spread evenly. Spread orange icing over each triangle, made by mixing confectioner’s sugar with enough orange
juice to spread evenly.

Well, there’s the orange icing. No pistachios this time. And the title calls these either Waldorf Triangles or Golden Rod Cake, implying that they are alternate names for the same thing.

And then I found this photograph in the 1906 Table Talk Illustrated Cook Book:

The text reads: “Two new cake forms are on the market. Orange slices and Golden Rod pans. The former cakes are covered after baking with orange flavored icing. The Golden Rod cakes are iced in white and decorated with fancy candies and citron.” Here the Golden Rod cakes aren’t the orange ones, but they don’t have pistachios, either. No reference is made to Waldorf Triangles.

(I could go on. There are the German-American versions from Praktischer Ratgeber für Conditoren, Cakebäcker und Brotbäcker und Candy-Macher/Practical Manual for Confectioners, Pastrycooks and Bakers and Candy Makers, 1912, that parallel the 1890s versions I found in my previous post, and one of which specifically calls for “three-cornered, long pans” ["long" is left out of the English translation on that page, but it's there in the German].)

My thought, after all of this, is that Golden Rod/Goldenrod Cakes are probably the basic triangular cakes, usually iced with orange icing (and perhaps frequently conflated with the Orange Slice cakes which had a slightly different pan, but could also be made in the Golden Rod pan), and that Waldorf Triangles were a variation (presumably originating at the Waldorf Hotel?) that had pistachios and were not orange. This is really only speculation, subject to change as I find more information. I look forward to finding more versions of these recipes and researching this further, and to possibly trying the recipe one of these days.

I’m also looking forward to finding one of the darn pans! No luck so far.

The Huevos con Queso experiment

Such a terrible blogger I am. In May, I ended my last post with “We had some leftover chili sauce and onions, and used that to resurrect another recipe on the next day. Stay tuned for a post about that one.” And you are still waiting. I apologize.

I didn’t waste all the time in the meantime, though. I spent part of it doing two more Master’s thesis drafts as well as a couple of research projects (one food-related, yes indeed). The thesis is now done (done! really!), so I hope I can get back to the business of recipe resurrecting.

I’ll start with a brief one I promised back in May. The last recipe I posted about was “Enchiladas, Mexican Style” from Gebhardt’s 1936 cookbook, Mexican Cookery for American Homes. This book, however, was not Gebhardt’s first cookbook for the American kitchen—that would be Mexican Cooking, published in about 1908. (Unfortunately, Google Books doesn’t have it freely available online even though it is in the public domain. It has been reprinted, though, and you can buy it here.)

This book is probably the first ever Mexican-American cookbook, and includes recipes such as “Tostadas de Queso—Cheese Toast (A Sunday-Night Supper)” and “Quesadilla Mexicana—Mexican Rarebit,” all featuring Gebhardt’s Eagle Chili Powder. It also has Enchiladas, but they are different from the flat stacked enchiladas in the 1937 cookbook. They are rolled, include homemade tortillas (called only “thin cakes” in this recipe, not tortillas), and it is suggested that “sardines cut into fine pieces are sometimes added.”

In the introduction, “To the American Housekeeper,” the book promises that:

“…We have spared neither labor nor expense in our efforts to give dishes that are pleasing, novel, and easily prepared.

While of the most simple nature, these recipes are those used by some of the most famous chefs of Old Mexico, and a careful reading of the following pages will enable you to surprise and please your friends and family with dishes that have graced the table of President Diaz and have made Mexican cooks as famous as those of France.”

Well, then. Let’s try some presidential cuisine. Page 31 features this recipe:

Huevos Con Queso—Eggs with Cheese

To six eggs use three tablespoonsful of grated mild cheese, one large tablespoonful of butter, one teaspoonful of onion juice or a small chopped onion; one half-teaspoonful of Gebhardt’s Eagle Chili Powder and salt to taste. Mix the cheese, butter, onion, chili powder and salt in a hot pan and stir until cheese is melted. Break the eggs into a bowl, adding the cheese and cook slowly, stirring until done, and then stir in chopped parsley and serve hot.

This is pretty straightforward despite being 102 years old. We had almost every ingredient available either from leftovers from the previous night’s enchilada experiment (such as the onions, cheese, chili powder, etc.) or because we had it on hand anyway (the eggs). The only ingredient we didn’t have was the chopped parsley, and I decided I could easily live without it.

Following the directions, I mixed the cheese, butter, leftover onion, Penzey’s chili powder, and salt in the pan. I beat the eggs and then stirred them into the cheese mixture. (I think the recipe may be missing a word when it says “Break the eggs into a bowl, adding the cheese and cook slowly.” Perhaps “adding to the cheese” is what was meant. But that part could certainly be phrased more clearly.)

More vintage cookin': Huevos con Queso

The recipe just says “serve hot.” When looking at modern versions, though, I saw that the dish is often served on tortilla strips. I cheated and used tortilla chips I had on hand. I piled huevos on the chips, then put a dollop of chili sauce (made for the previous night’s enchiladas) and a smaller dollop of sour cream on the top, and a tiny sprinkle of grated cheese. I ate it with a side of beans and spicy sauce.

Verdict

It was good. It was not as spicy as I would have liked it, so if I make it again, I may experiment with more spice. Considering that the recipe is from 1908 and was written for an audience that may not have been as comfortable with hot and spicy foods as we are, I’m not surprised that it was a little mild. It was still tasty and I would certainly cook it again.

It was not, however, as good as the enchiladas from the previous night, which were tremendous.

More vintage cookin': Huevos con Queso
Yum. Looks pretty tasty, hmm?

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  • profileWendi is a history geek and loves to bake, particularly recipes from her grandmother's collection. Kristen has been cooking her whole life. She has a BS in Family & Consumer Science and enjoys comfort foods and creating new recipes.

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Potential projects

  • Malted Milk Cake (1920s-1930s)
  • English Monkey (1930s)
  • Ginger Ale Salad (1920s)
  • Homemade pop (soda)
  • Mayonnaise Cake or Surprise Cake (1930s)
  • Raspberry Cream in Pineapple Shells (1909)
  • Cream cheese/sesame party dip (1960s)
  • Welsh Rabbit (1909)
  • Gold-N-Sno Cake (1933)
  • Orange Omelet (1920s)
  • "Mock Egg" cake (1900s-1940s)
  • Tomato Jelly Salad (1930)
  • Molasses Cake (1930)
  • Peanut Butter Rarebit (1920)
  • Tablet (1900s-1910s)
  • Asparagus on Toast (1930s)
  • Golden Rod Cake (1890s-1920s) in the proper pan!