The long-lost Golden Rod Cake

I was looking through a 1914 issue of The Boston Cooking School Magazine when this ad caught my eye:

A couple of interesting gadgets, there. That Roberts Lightning Mixer looks useful, and the mayonnaise mixer… well, you’d have to make a lot of mayonnaise to make that one worth taking up space in the kitchen, but if you do make a lot of mayo, I can see that it could be helpful.

But the one that mainly caught my attention is the one at the bottom of the page: “Golden Rod Cake Pan,” an oddly-shaped pan that appears to make triangular cakes. Since the inspiration for this blog, a year ago, was the similarly-named “Gold-n-Sno Cake,” I was particularly curious. What was the Golden Rod Cake?

A quick Google search turned up this post by the Old Foodie, who looked into the topic last year, complete with three interesting recipes.

Here are a couple more recipes for the Golden Rod Cake.

First, a very sparse recipe from A Collection of Delectable Recipes: Tried and True, 1898:

GOLDEN ROD CAKE.

Eighteen ounces powdered sugar, nine ounces butter, sixteen ounces eggs, one tablespoonful vanilla, one pennyweight soda, two pennyweights cream tartar, eighteen ounces pastry flour.
MRS F.C. CHANDLER.

No instructions whatsoever. No reference to the icing that many of the other recipes have. And no orange. Is this a related cake or something different?

Here’s a pair of recipes from Perfection in Baking, 1899. The first recipe is very close to Mrs. Chandler’s recipe, above. Perhaps we can assume that Mrs. Chandler just didn’t mention the orange icing because it was assumed that any reader would know that Golden Rod cakes would have orange icing.

Golden Rod Cake.
TO SELL AT 15 CENTS EACH.

Cream together one pound of fine sugar with ten ounces of butter and one and a half pints eggs, one pennyweight of soda, one teaspoonful of vanilla, twenty ounces of cake flour, two pennyweights of cream of tartar. When baked, ice the sides with orange water icing.

Golden Rod Cake.
TO SELL AT TEN CENTS A PIECE.

With one pound of butter and lard cream one and one half pounds of sugar, ten eggs, two thirds of a pint of milk, juice and grating of two oranges, two pounds of cake flour, one ounce of baking powder. Mix and bake like above. Ice some with orange, some strawberry, some chocolate. On one side ornament the name “Golden Rod” in different colors; that is, if cakes are frosted chocolate, ornament in yellow; if iced yellow, ornament in pink or white, etc.

(Further down on the same page, there is a recipe for Orange Slices cakes baked in a particular mold, and Orange Slice Cake is mentioned in the ad for the Golden Rod Cake Pan. Is this Orange Slices recipe what was meant?)

The Boston Cooking School offered the Golden Rod Cake Pan in the pages of their magazine, so it is no surprise that they had a recipe or two for it themselves. In 1904-1905, they gave us these two slightly different variations:

Goldenrod Cake for Charlotte Russe Moulds and Waldorf Triangles

Beat the yolks of six eggs very light. Gradually beat into these half a cup of sugar, then two tablespoonfuls of milk or orange juice, and, lastly, half a cup of sifted flour, sifted again with a level teaspoonful of baking powder and a few grains of salt. Fill the moulds or pans with a teaspoon, tapping the moulds on the table, to cause the mixture to settle to the bottom of the moulds. Bake in an oven a little hotter than for ordinary sponge cake, and turn the cake from the tins as soon as it is removed from the oven. Flavor with a grating of orange rind, or half a teaspoonful of vanilla extract. The recipe will make twelve triangles or charlotte russe cases. The mixture is finer-grained and more tender than the usual sponge cake. Cover the triangles with boiled frosting, and sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts.

Goldenrod Cake for Charlotte Russe Moulds and Waldorf Triangles

Beat the yolks of six eggs very light. Gradually beat in half a cup of fine granulated sugar, then two tablespoonfuls of milk or orange juice (lemon juice will not do) and, lastly, half a cup and one tablespoonful (for difference in flour) of sifted flour, sifted again with a level teaspoonful of baking powder and a few grains of salt. Bake in an oven a little hotter than for ordinary sponge cake. Flavor with half a teaspoonful of vanilla extract or a grating of yellow orange rind.

Putting all this together, what we have is a fairly fine sponge cake, frequently with orange flavoring, shaped something like triangular ladyfingers, and sometimes used the same way (which might explain the lack of icing in Mrs. Chandler’s recipe—if you were making these for a Charlotte Russe, you wouldn’t need the icing).

I still don’t know the origin of the name, and I would really like to see how the Golden Rod cake was supposed to look. It would be fun to try to make them in the proper shape — does anyone know if pans like that still exist? I haven’t been able to find one.

Loseyns: Medieval cheese and pasta
Loysyns.
In erthen pot put brothe for hast;
Take floure of payndemayn, and make þy past
With water, þer of þy fele þou make
With a roller, and drye hit, I undurtake
Aȝayne þo sonne þat hit be harde;
Kast þerin brothe and make rewarde;
To sethe hom take rawe chese anone
And grate hit in disshes mony on
With powder dowce; and lay þer in
þy loseyns abofe þe chese with wynne,
And powder on last spryngil hit þou may;
þose loysyns er harde to make in fay.

This rhyming recipe was written in Middle English, around 1420-1440, in the Liber cure Cocorum. You can see a 19th-century transcription of it here at Google Books, and here at Greg Lindahl’s website. The latter site also has a modern translation by Cindy Renfrow.

Basically, the recipe in the Liber cure Cocorum is this: Make dried pasta. Cook the dried pasta in broth. Grate cheese into a dish, add powder douce (a common medieval spice mixture), layer cooked pasta on the cheese/spice mixture, top with powder douce. The recipe ends by saying, essentially, “these loysyns are hard to make, really.”

And yet, they don’t really seem to be. I’ve cooked it twice so far, and both times the results have been really tasty. This is the recipe that is often called “medieval lasagne,” and a few years ago there was some fuss about whether this indicated that lasagne was of British origin. (Not particularly. But the dish is certainly similar.)

Loseyns are also found in The Forme of Cury, a 1390 cookbook by the cooks of King Richard II’s household. With no need to make their recipes rhyme, the loseyns recipe in this book has a few more details:

“Take gode broth and do in an erthen pot, take flour of payndemayn and make þereof past with water. and make þereof thynne foyles as paper with a roller, drye it harde and seeþ it in broth take Chese ruayn grated and lay it in disshes with powdour douce. and lay þeron loseyns isode as hoole as þou mizt. and above powdour and chese, and so twyse or thryse, & serve it forth.”

Here it is as I would put it in Modern English:

“Put good broth in an earthen pot. Take white bread flour and water, and make thin sheets of pasta with a roller. Dry the pasta. Then cook it in broth. Grate mild cheese, and put it in a dish with powder douce. Lay pasta on the cheese, cooked as much as you like. Layer cheese and powder above that, and repeat this two or three times. Then serve it.”

(Notice it doesn’t tell you to bake it. If you work really quickly, with very hot pasta, the pasta melts the cheese somewhat and it’s actually pretty good without baking! But I find it easier just to go ahead and bake it. Perhaps the hard part referred to by the author of the Liber cure Cocorum was getting the whole thing put together before the pasta cooled.)

Here’s a rough version adapted from the Forme of Cury version. Unfortunately, in a fine medieval style, I haven’t really measured my ingredients when I’ve made this, so the quantities are a little vague:

A page from The Forme of Cury, with part of the Loseyns recipe.


Loseyns

  • Lasagna noodles, enough to layer several times in your baking dish (I don’t recommend “oven-ready” noodles — when I tried them, they failed because there wasn’t quite enough moisture in the recipe. The noodles were crunchy in the center of the pan, though they cooked well on the edges.)
  • Plenty of mild cheese (I have used a medium cheddar with good results)
  • Broth (chicken broth would be fine. I use good vegetarian broth with a touch of garlic.)
  • Powder douce (mine is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, sugar, cloves, and nutmeg. I make the mixture myself.)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grate cheese. Cook lasagne noodles in broth, then drain. Put some grated cheese in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle on some powder douce to taste. Layer cooked lasagne noodles over the cheese. Repeat about three times, alternating cheese/powder douce with noodles. Finish with a layer of cheese and powder douce. Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes or until it is bubbly and nicely golden brown on top.

The powder douce is a combination of flavors we think of in very sweet foods — it makes a killer cinnamon toast — and so the first time I made this, I thought that it might not taste good with the cheese. But it’s wonderful. And despite the complaint by the author of the Liber cure Cocorum, it’s not difficult. Boil pasta, grate cheese, layer the two, bake. You can’t get much simpler.

Cooking loseyns ("medieval lasagne")
Ready to go in the oven.

Cooking loseyns ("medieval lasagne")
Cooked and ready to eat! Unfortunately I don’t have a good picture of the loseyns nicely arranged on a dinner plate. But it was good and tasty.

“A Candy Receipt”: Cocoanut Cream Bars

I have a new recipe resurrection to post soon, but in the meantime, I want to link to a relevant post at The Ugly Woman’s Guide to Internet Dating (which, despite the title, has some lovely posts about old houses and kitchen topics, including one on the Monitor Top fridge, a topic of particular interest to me).

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, 235° F–240° 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.

“None need go without a Christmas day”: Plum Pudding, Old Style

Click on this image to see a larger copy of this 1930s plum pudding recipe. Scan by Daily Bungalow.

Click on this image, then click All Sizes, to see a larger copy of this 1930s plum pudding recipe. Scan by Daily Bungalow.

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.

Published Monday, January 1, 1900 in the San Francisco Call. Courtesy of Indiamos.

Published Monday, January 1, 1900 in the San Francisco Call. Courtesy of Indiamos.

An elusive ingredient found, it’s time to bake

Photo by Roadsidepictures.

Photo by Roadsidepictures.

Long time readers may recall that the main inspiration for this blog was my search for the “Gold-n-Sno” cake mentioned in Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America’s First Lady of Food.

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 frequently listed 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.

The New Art of cooking, 1930s-style

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:

The New Art cookbook, 1934

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:

The New Art cookbook, 1934: Model kitchen

The New Art cookbook, 1934: Model "Provincial" kitchen
(more…)

The “very good cake” experiment: 17th century fruitcake

Last weekend, after the “cooking with medieval pottery” class I mentioned earlier, I took another class, this one on historic cooking from primary sources.

In the class, we were divided up into pairs, and each pair was given a recipe in its original language, along with access to the necessary ingredients, and then we had to figure out the recipe, convert the ingredients to modern terms, cook the food, and eat it. We had four hours.

My team’s recipe was easier to understand than many of the others, since it was a 17th century recipe instead of a medieval one, and actually included some measurements. Older recipes tend to say things like “add some [ingredient] until it is enough.” This one had measurements, but some were a bit odd.

This is the recipe we were given:

ANOTHER VERY GOOD CAKE

Take four quarts of fine flower, two pound and half of butter, three quarters of a pound of Sugar, four Nutmegs; a little Mace; a pound of Almonds finely beaten, half a pint of Sack, a pint of good Ale-yest, a pint of boiled Cream, twelve yolks, and four whites of Eggs; four pound of Currants. When you have wrought all these into a very fine past, let it be kept warm before the fire half an hour, before you set it into the oven. If you please, you may put into it, two pound of Raisins of the Sun stoned and quartered. Let your oven be of a temperate heat, and let your Cake stand therein two hours and a half, before you Ice it; and afterwards only to harden the Ice. The Ice for this Cake is made thus: Take the whites of three new laid Eggs, and three quarters of a pound of fine Sugar finely beaten; beat it well together with the whites of the Eggs, and Ice the Cake. If you please you may add a little Musk or Ambergreece.

The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Opened, 1669

The first thing we noticed is that this is a very large recipe. Converting the ingredients to a list, you have:

  • 4 quarts flour
  • 2 1/2 pounds butter
  • 3/4 pound sugar
  • 4 nutmegs
  • “a little Mace”
  • 1 pound of ground almonds
  • 1/2 pint sack
  • 1 pint ale-yeast
  • 1 pint boiled cream
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 pounds currants
  • 2 pounds raisins

And the icing:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 pound sugar

This cake was way too big, so even though the measurements were relatively straightforward, we were going to have to convert things to make a smaller cake. We decided to make 1/4 of the recipe, and ended up with something sort of like this:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 sticks of butter
  • a scant 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 nutmeg, grated
  • a pinch of mace
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup Dry Sack
  • 1 envelope yeast
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 pound currants
  • 1/2 pound small raisins

And the icing:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 pound sugar

Unfortunately, I am not the one who wrote down the measurements, and I don’t have the written-down version, so I am not entirely certain this is exactly what we used. Basically, though, the conversions were pretty straightforward, and it probably wasn’t different from what I’ve written here.

To make it, we mixed the butter with the flour until the lumps were gone. Then we added the sugar, nutmeg, mace, and almonds. Then the sack, the egg yolks and white, the currants, and the raisins, and mixed it into a pasty, heavy dough. We warmed the cream a bit and put the yeast into the cream, then waited until it “woke up.” We then added the yeasty cream into the dough and mixed it.

We then put the dough into two small cake pans (one a Bundt pan, and the other a small springform).

We covered the dough with a towel and let it rise for a little more than 1/2 hour. (At first we had it in a place that didn’t seem warm enough, so we moved it to a warmer place and let it rise a bit longer.) It didn’t really seem to rise much, which was a bit nerve-wracking, but we had a deadline, so we went ahead and put it in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes, and when we checked on it after 30 minutes, it was perfectly done. (Which we weren’t expecting. At least, I wasn’t.)

A short while earlier, my teammate looked at the icing instructions to take the egg whites and sugar and “beat it well together with the whites of the Eggs,” and said “it’s a meringue! Beaten egg whites and sugar, put back into the oven to ‘harden the icing’!” So we whipped up a meringue for the top of the cakes.

When we took the cakes out of the oven, they smelled amazing, and looked pretty good too — golden and studded with raisins and currants. With a spatula, I put the meringue on the top and tried to make it look pretty. I probably didn’t do that well at the pretty-making part. I didn’t ice the sides because we didn’t really have that much meringue. Then we put them back in the oven for a bit to brown the meringue.

Here are the cakes when finished:

17th century cakes

The verdict: Well, I thought they were wonderful. They were a fruitcake of sorts, but not a nasty modern fruitcake. You could taste the sack and the nutmeg, and of course the sweet currants, and while warm, the scent of the cake was incredible.

The meringue was OK, though I’d do something else instead. Just a powdered sugar icing drizzled on it, or something like that. I am not a huge fan of meringue, and I think it would be fine with an alternative icing, or even without one at all. It would also look less goofy, perhaps.

I notice that other folks online who have tried this recipe did not interpret this part of it as a meringue, just as an egg white/sugar glaze. I think this probably makes more sense.

The cake was fairly dense, but not overly so. The yeast did apparently have some effect, even though the cake didn’t rise much. The density felt like the right amount.

I would make this again, and it is definitely a wintertime sort of cake. Too heavy for summer, but perfect for December.

Happy Thanksgiving: My grandma’s pumpkin pie

My grandma's pumpkin pie recipe

This is a recipe card from the 1960s or early 1970s with my grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe. I make this recipe at least once a year, and it’s always very good. You can see it’s been spilled on a few times! None of that evaporated milk stuff for Grandma — this uses none of it, and just has you scald the milk. And none of those premixed “pumpkin pie spices”! You can mix your own.

Pumpkin Pie
Serves 6
Recipe from the kitchen of Mom

1 recipe pie crust
2 c. pumpkin – add 2 eggs beaten slightly – Add
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. cloves
1/2 t. salt
Add 1 c. scalded milk. Pour into shell and bake at
450F – 10 min.
350F – 30 min.

For 2 pies use large can pumpkin and double everything else.

I suppose it could be written a little more clearly. I’d probably edit it to read as follows:

Pumpkin Pie
Serves 6
Recipe from the kitchen of Mom
Edited by Wendi

2 c. (one small can) pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten slightly
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. cloves
1/2 t. salt
1 c. scalded milk
1 recipe pie crust

Preheat oven to 450F.
Stir beaten eggs into pumpkin.
Add dry ingredients (sugar, spices, salt) and mix well.
Stir in scalded milk until mixture is smooth.
Pour into shell and bake at 450F for 10 minutes,
then lower the oven temperature to 350F and continue cooking for 30 more minutes.

Pie is ready to serve when a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean.

For 2 pies, use a large can of pumpkin and double everything else.

Pumpkin pie isn’t really a recipe that needs resurrecting — people eat it every Thanksgiving. It hasn’t lost any popularity. But most recipes you see these days call for evaporated milk, so perhaps this version with plain milk will interest some of you. (I’ve used this recipe with soy milk, incidentally — and it was delicious.)

Found in the back of a 1930 cookbook

Recipe pinned in the "Silent Hostess" cookbook.

This clipping was pinned in the back of my 1930 Silent Hostess Treasure Book cookbook.

Lemon Pudding

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 cups of sweet milk
2 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of butter
2 lemons

Mix the four eggs, (except the whites of two which should be reserved for a meringue) with the juice of the two lemons and the grated rind of one of them, the sugar, and the butter, melted. Blend the flour with two tablespoons of the milk and gradually add the rest of the milk to it, stirring as you add. Combine the two mixtures, (egg and milk) and lightly beat them to blend. Pour into a well buttered baking dish and bake half an hour in a moderate oven. Beat the whites of the two eggs stuff, beat in the four tablespoons of sugar, flavor with a little of the grated rind of lemon and heap on the top of the pudding after it has baked a half hour. Put back in the oven, reduce the heat to a very moderate oven and brown the meringue delicately.

Tomorrow: Vegetable Loaf.

The clipping is undated, and there is no indication as to the source, but the references to a “moderate” and “very moderate” oven (and to a “quick oven” in the recipe that follows) mark it as being relatively old. A moderate oven is about 350 degrees F. Very moderate is probably about 325 (most conversion scales don’t list “very moderate”, but the recipe does say to “reduce the heat”). A quick oven is about 375-400 degrees. You can find a conversion chart for these old-fashioned temperatures (and measurements) here.

A baked pudding with meringue isn’t entirely unheard of these days (particularly as a pie filling), but I bet most folks who make pudding at home make it from a box. Which is an entirely different sort of pudding from this one. (And, hopefully, a different sort from the pudding discussed in “Poisoned By a Lemon Pudding: Narrow Escape of a Family of Six at Westwood, O.“, an 1890 article in the Chicago Daily Tribune. Unfortunately, the Trib wants $3.95 for access to the article, so for now, the cause of the family’s lemon pudding poisoning will remain a mystery.)

At the bottom of the clipping is a “Requested Recipes” feature, written in a charmingly-dated style:

Requested Recipes

“BISCUITS”: Milk and water biscuits you say this recipe is to be. But even more important than that would have been the information as to whether they were “raised” or “baking powder” biscuits. We shall chance the latter: 2 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of shortening, and 3/4 cup of milk and water mixed. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt; genetly rub the shortening into these with the tops of the fingers, then stir in the milk. Pat or roll on a lightly floured board. Cut with a round cutter and place on a buttered pan or baking sheet. Prick the top with a fork and bake about fifteen minutes in a quick oven.–(FOR MRS. S.)

The back of the clipping, unfortunately, does not tell us where or when it came from. It is part of an ad for a rayon bedspread, shown on a very old-style bed. My guess is that it is contemporary with the cookbook itself. Rayon was already known and used by 1930.

The Tomato Jelly Salad experiment

This weekend, the time came to make the previously-mentioned Tomato Jelly Salad, a tomato aspic dish that is in the suggested Thanksgiving menu in the Silent Hostess cookbook from 1930.

The tomato aspic experiment: getting started

Here is the recipe, from page 50 of the Silent Hostess Treasure Book. The Tomato Aspic is the basis of the salad, so I’ll list it first:

Tomato Aspic
2 tablespoons gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup boiling water
4 cups tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 or 3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Soak the gelatin in cold water and dissolve in boiling water. Cook the tomatoes, onions, celery seed, cloves, salt and sugar for fifteen minutes. Strain through fine strainer or cheese-cloth; add lemon juice and dissolved gelatin. This may be molded at once or it may be kept in covered jar in refrigerator Cabinet until needed. To use, take out what is wanted and melt over hot water. Suggestions for several variations follow.

Tomato Jelly Salad
Fill individual molds which have been dipped in cold water with Tomato Aspic. Chill until firm. Unmold on crisp lettuce and serve with mayonnaise dressing.

And on page 57, the dressing:

Mayonnaise dressing
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup vinegar
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 pint salad oil

Beat egg yolks and add few drops of vinegar. Drop oil, drop by drop, into egg mixture until one-fourth cup is used. Then gradually increase the amount of oil added, beating constantly. As mixture thickens , add the rest of the vinegar a little at a time, Add salt. Lemon juice may be used in place of vinegar, if preferred.

I got canned tomatoes, as at this time of year, it’s likely that a homemaker in 1930’s Seattle wouldn’t have access to fresh tomatoes. I thought about adding some Tabasco or something else to give it some spice, but decided it was better to follow the recipe as is for testing purposes. After cooking the mixture of tomatoes and spices, I drained the tomato puree, mixed the juice with gelatin, and poured it into some cups to mold.

The tomato aspic experiment: Straining the tomato mixture The tomato aspic experiment: In the molds, ready to go in the fridge

Then the cups went into the refrigerator to chill. A bit later, Kristen and I made the mayonnaise. Living dangerously, we decided to risk an uncooked egg mayo. (The eggs were, at least, organic and well-washed.) Making mayonnaise is slow (dripping the oil in, drop by drop) but the results are pretty good. The recipe above probably includes too much salt, though.

Then, it was time to eat the Tomato Jelly Salad, served on a lettuce leaf with a jaunty cap of mayonnaise. (Unfortunately, we accidentally froze our lettuce, so the lettuce leaf itself was a little bit icky. It worked ok for photos, though.)

The tomato aspic experiment:

Verdict:

I have an odd ambivalence about this. It doesn’t exactly taste bad — it tastes like V-8 or tomato juice, and I like V-8. But for some reason I don’t really want to make this or eat it again. I think it’s got to be a textural thing. V-8 is great, but gelatinous V-8? Well, I’ve never developed a taste for it. It feels odd to me. I don’t hate this, or even exactly dislike it, and the flavor is OK, as I said. It’s just not really likable.

Kristen tasted it, and did not like it. Jason suggested that it might be better sliced on crackers. Perhaps. The next morning, he ate it in cubes mixed with fried egg, and said “ehhh, I probably won’t eat any more.” Jesse tried it, and his response was about the same as mine.

So, the mystery remains: why did gelatin salads take US culinary habits by storm in the early 20th Century? Based on the evidence of the Tomato Jelly Salad, we can’t yet imagine why. But we will experiment further.
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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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