More coming soon — but I just wanted to post that I have finally found a Golden Rod Cake pan (as seen here)! When it gets here I will post some photos. And soon, I’ll actually try baking some Golden Rod Cake or Waldorf Triangles.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 doesn’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 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.
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:
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.
In the right menu of this page, you can see a list of some of the recipe ideas Kristen and I have been thinking about trying. On the top of the list is one that sounds wonderful: Malted Milk Cake. I am a huge fan of malt flavor, particularly chocolate malted milk, and I have a recipe all lined up for it.
But there’s a catch. I can’t find the chocolate malted milk anywhere in Seattle so far. I used to buy it occasionally at various local grocery stores, but now they only seem to carry the plain malt. Safeway and Albertson’s don’t even go that far. A search for “malted milk” on the Albertson’s website only brings up these.
The one grocery store that does have the product is Amazon Fresh. But they do not deliver to us. No one I know seems to use Amazon Fresh.
So alternatives must be found.
These are the alternatives I know of:
- Ovaltine chocolate malt drink powder: I think this is probably too sweet and has too many extra ingredients, though maybe it would work
- Milo chocolate malt drink powder: this should be available at Uwajimaya, I think, and might be similar, though I’ve never tried it
- Making a homemade version from the plain Carnation Malted Milk
Currently I’m leaning toward the latter. I think that malted milk, cocoa, and sugar might do the trick. Another malted milk cake recipe online seems to do it that way.
Edited to add:
I’ve just done a little experimenting. The following recipe gives me a relatively decent chocolate malted milk mixture, not overly sweet. A bit more sugar could be added, I suppose, but I get the idea that the stuff was perhaps less sweet back in the day anyway:
2 parts Carnation Malted Milk (plain)
1 part unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 parts sugar
Recently I found a reference to Betty Crocker’s Gold-N-Sno cake, in the book Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America’s First Lady of Food. It sounded scrumptious. The book didn’t include a recipe, so I had to find one. It did include a list of ingredients, which made it easier.
Since we hadn’t started Resurrected Recipes yet when I tried that recipe, the full story of the search and the recipe I ended up using can be found at my personal blog, Slumberland. Future projects will be posted here on Resurrected Recipes instead.
The resulting cake was fabulous, though we were a little short on frosting, so the cake looked weird. I would gladly make this cake again.
- Wendi 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.