Cocoa Angel Food Cake with Boiled Icing

 

A hundred years ago there were some delightful cake recipes. I recently found an old recipe for Cocoa Angel Food Cake with Boiled Icing. It made a delectable light and airy cake with an absolutely decadent old-fashioned gooey frosting.

The Boiled Icing brought back memories of  fluffy, glossy frosting on incredible cakes that great aunts brought to family reunions. (Does anyone still make Boiled Icing?) I’d forgotten how good it is.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)

This recipe makes a relatively small cake. It has a wonderful texture, but it is not as thick as many modern angel food cakes.

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cocoa Angel Food Cake with Boiled Icing

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Time: 1 hour active prep time
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Cocoa Angel Food Cake

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup pastry flour

1 cup sugar

5 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Sift together cocoa and flour, then stir in the sugar. Set aside.

Put the egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat until foamy, then add the cream of tartar and continue beating until the mixture holds stiff straight peaks. Gently stir in the vanilla.

Sprinkle a small amount of the flour and sugar mixture (about 2 tablespoons) onto the whipped egg mixture; and then fold it in. Continue sprinkling and folding the flour and sugar mixture until it all is folded in.

Gently spoon the batter into an ungreased 10 X 4 tube pan with removable bottom (angel food cake pan). Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched.

Invert pan until cool (at least 1 hour) and then remove cake from pan, and ice with Boiled Icing

Boiled Icing

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

dash cream of tartar

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Combine sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a saucepan; put on medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture reaches a bowl, reduce heat so that there is a slow boil. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (240° F.), then remove from heat.

In the meantime, in a mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Slowing pour the hot sugar mixture over the egg whites while beating constantly.  Add the vanilla; continue beating until cool. Immediately use to ice cake.

Great Hotel Dining Rooms and Kitchens a Hundred Years Ago

hotel-dining-room-gh-4-1917Caption: So many persons are not content with a “perfect day,” but want a perfect evening, too, that a scene like this at the Hotel Biltmore, New York, is set every night.

There were some very elegant hotel restaurants a hundred years ago. Here are a few pictures from a April, 1917 article in Good Housekeeping.

hotel-kitchen-gh-4-1917Caption: The kitchen is the very heart of a hotel, where the tremendous task of feeding a multitude is always in process. This is a busy corner in the kitchen of the Ritz-Carlton, New York.

hotel-dining-room-gh-4-1917-cCaption: Managing the dining-room of a great hotel is, after all, much like managing the dining room of a private home. (Plaza Hotel, New York)

Old-fashioned Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks

leek-potato-soup

When it comes to cooking, March is the month I find most challenging. Many days the weather is still brisk and windy (with an occasional snow shower) – and winter foods seem most appropriate,  yet I’m tiring of them and yearn for bright and sunny spring foods.

When I searched for the perfect hundred-year-old recipe for this week, I came across a recipe for Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks that excited me.

The verdict: The Leek and Potato Soup was easy to make, and delightful;  and, just right on a damp and raw March day. The traditional combination of leeks and potatoes in a rich and creamy soup base warmed me, and delicate yellow and green leek pieces floating in the soup provided just a hint of spring.

The recipe called for serving the soup with Imperial Bread Sticks. The bread sticks were made by cutting bread into sticks and toasting. It was fun to replicate how people made bread sticks a hundred years ago – though it I made this soup again, I’d probably either serve it with a warm artisan bread or buy modern bread sticks.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (December, 1916)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Leek and Potato Soup

6 leeks

6 medium potatoes

water

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup cream

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

Clean the leeks and remove the coarse dark green tops. Cut the white and light-green portions of the leeks into thin slices. Set aside.

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Put the diced potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Put on the stove and using high heat bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and drain.

Add the sliced leeks to the drained potatoes, and just barely cover with boiling water. (I heated the water in the microwave. In days gone by, it would have been heated in a tea kettle or pan on the stove.). Return to the stove, and using high heat bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover; cook until the leeks are tender (about 15 minutes).  (DO NOT drain.) Stir in the salt, pepper, cream, parsley, and butter. Heat until the soup is hot and steamy. Remove from heat, and, if desired, serve with Imperial Bread Sticks.

Imperial Bread Sticks

bread (I used sliced Vienna bread.)

butter

Cut as many slices of bread as desired into sticks 1/2 inch wide. Cut off the crust. Butter both sides of the bread sticks, and then place on a metal baking sheet.  Place under the broiler and broil until lightly browned. Remove from oven and flip, then return to broiler to brown the other side. Remove from heat and serve.

Notes: The process for preparing and cooking the leeks and potatoes in the old recipe was a bit befuddling. The potatoes (which I assume were diced into cubes) were boiled for three minutes, then the water was drained. Next the entire white and light green sections of the leeks were added to the saucepan, and everything was covered with boiling water. This mixture was then cooked until the leeks were tender – at which point, the leeks were removed from the water and thinly sliced; then returned to the water.

When I updated the recipe I simplified the process just a little. Perhaps draining the potatoes after cooking them for several minutes removed excess starch, so I retained that step. And, perhaps pouring boiling water on the leeks and partially cooked potatoes (rather than covering them with cold water which is brought to a boil) affects the texture of the vegetables, so I retained that step.

But, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why the leeks should be cooked before slicing. If seems like it would be much more difficult to slice cooked leeks than raw ones, so I simplified that step and sliced the raw leeks before adding them to the potatoes.

1917 “Buy Advertised Goods” Ad (National Biscuit Company Advertisement)

Source: American Cookery (January, 1917)
Source: American Cookery (January, 1917)

Are branded goods that are promoted with advertising of higher quality than similar “no-brand” items? That’s a question that has been around for at least a hundred years. Here’s a 1917 National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) ad which argues that consumers should, “Buy advertised goods – Do not accept substitutes.”

Old-fashioned Rice Pudding with Meringue Topping

rice-pudding

Creamy and sweet old-fashioned rice pudding is always a delight, so when I came across a hundred-old-recipe for rice pudding with a twist, I was intrigued. The recipe called for topping the pudding with a meringue topping.

The meringue turns a favorite comfort food, into a tasty, slightly showy dish that is sure to impress.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, February, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, February, 1916)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rice Pudding with Meringue Topping

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

1 cup cold milk + 2 cups hot milk (I heated the milk in the microwave.)

1 cup warm cooked rice

1 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract ( I used vanilla.)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl, then add 3/4 cup of sugar. Stir until smooth.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan (or double boiler, if available), stir the corn starch into the milk to make a smooth paste, then pour in the hot milk while stirring. Using medium heat, cook while stirring constantly until the mixture begins boil slowly and thicken. If a regular saucepan is used, be sure to carefully stir all the way to the bottom of the pan because this mixture will easily scorch.

Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of the hot milk mixture into bowl with the egg and sugar, stir quickly. Then pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture while stirring rapidly. Continue cooking for one additional minute. Remove from heat and stir in the rice and vanilla (or orange) extract. Put the pudding in an oven-proof serving bowl.  (Cook’s note: The egg is first combined with a little of the hot milk mixture to prevent it from turning into scrambled eggs when introduced into the hot milk mixture.)

To prepare the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until stiff peaks form, then beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Spoon the meringue onto the top of  the pudding, and then swirl. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the meringue is a light brown.

rice-pudding-2

Play Aprons for Children Making Mud Pies

burlap bag 1

Are children’s play aprons and mud pies a relevant topic for a post on A Hundred Years Ago? This blog is about food and related topics. Today I may be stretching the limits,  but somehow it seems to work on this muddy spring day.

Now that spring is on the horizon, children are playing outside again—and horror of horrors– perhaps making mud pies. They may need a play apron.

Here are hundred-year-old directions for making one:

Play aprons for children may be made most satisfactorily of burlap. An ordinary feed bag will do.

For the material on the shoulders cut a kimono clip apron having a square neck large enough to permit dropping of the apron over the child’s head. Do not seam it, but bind it all around with some bright-colored material and fasten under the seams with large buttons and loops.

This kind of apron requires little washing, as the coarseness of the material prevents the dirt from sticking to it. Such aprons will protect the children when playing in the sand or dirt, or making mud pies.

Ladies Home Journal (April, 1914)

Sometimes when I read old magazine articles, I’m surprised how much times have changed. A hundred-year-ago so many people must have still had such close ties to farms that a mass-circulation magazine like Ladies Home Journal thought that readers could easily get an “ordinary feed bag” made of burlap.

I also can’t quite picture parents putting burlap aprons on their children today. And, do kids still play in the mud? What about the germs?

P.S. I know that the burlap bag in the photo is not anywhere close to being a hundred years old, but it brought back nice memories of Agway feed bags that we had on the farm when I was a child.

Hundred-Year-Old Rosy Macaroni Recipe

rosy-macaroni

When I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Rosy Macaroni, I just had to give it a try. It’s really macaroni and cheese made with canned tomato soup, and some celery and onions thrown in for good measure, as well as tiny amounts of ground cloves and paprika.

The tomato soup added a new dimension to the macaroni and cheese – and I loved the crunchiness that the celery added to the dish. Rosy Macaroni definitely falls into the comfort food category, though I must admit that I find it slightly disappointing that commercially canned soups have been available for more than a hundred years.

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: American Cookery (April, 1917)
Source: American Cookery (April, 1917)

The murky language of old recipes is often challenging. The nuanced language differentiating between a “dust” of ground cloves and a “pinch” of soda was particularly confounding. When I updated the recipe, I went with 1/8 teaspoon for both ground cloves and baking soda – but I’m I probably not exactly replicating the original recipe for either ingredient.

And, I started with a box  of macaroni containing the typical 1-inch pieces. (Macaroni must have looked very different a hundred years ago if it needed to be broken into short pieces.) I also stirred the cooked macaroni into the tomato sauce rather than making them separate layers since it was easier – and it seemed like there would be little difference in the end product.

Here’s how I updated the recipe for modern cooks:

Rosy Macaroni

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups macaroni

3 tablespoons  butter + 1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons celery, finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 can condensed tomato soup

1/2 soup can of water

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

salt

paprika

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Fill a large sauce pan 2/3’s full of water, bring to a boil using high heat. Stir in the macaroni, and reduce heat to medium so that the water just simmers. Cook until the macaroni is al dente (about 6 – 8 minutes). Remove from heat and drain. Rinse with cold water to prevent the macaroni from sticking together, drain again.

Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet using low heat. Add the corn starch and stir until smooth. Stir in the onion, celery, cloves, and baking powder. Add the tomato soup and water; stir until smooth. Stir in the cooked macaroni, then increase heat to medium while continuing to stir. When hot remove from heat.

In the meantime, melt one tablespoon butter using low heat in a small skillet. Stir in the bread crumbs. Increase heat to medium and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes to lightly toast the crumbs. Remove from heat.

Place 1/3 of the macaroni mixture in a buttered  1 1/2- quart casserole dish, then put 1/2 of the cheese on top of it and sprinkle with salt and paprika. Repeat, ending with the macaroni mixture. Top with the buttered bread crumbs.

Put in oven and bake until hot and bubbly (20-30 minutes).