I eat lots of fresh fruit; canned fruit not so much. But a hundred-year-old recipe reminded me that canned fruits are delicious. Stuffed Peach Salad was easy to make, attractive, and most importantly, tasty.
I have a bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce in my refrigerator. I use Worcestershire Sauce to give Sloppy Joes their tangy taste – but apparently I’ve never really appreciated its ability to make foods more gourmet. According to this 1920 advertisement for Lea & Perrins Sauce, it gives canned meat, soup, fish, and vegetables a real “chef” taste.
I wonder when the word “Worchestershire” was added to the name. Back in 1920, Lea & Perrins was just called a sauce.
Fall is in the air! Evenings are a bit nippy, and the trees are starting to turn color. And, it’s the season for apples, so browsed through old magazines and books for an apple recipe. And, I think I found a winner.
I found a delightful hundred-year-old recipe for Butterscotch Apples. Stewed apples are served in a creamy brown sugar sauce.
In the meantime, put the brown sugar and water in a large saucepan. Using medium heat, bring to boil while stirring occasionally. Add the quartered apples. Cover and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently until the apples are tender (5-10 minutes) while stirring occasionally. (The apples can boil over, so watch carefully and reduce heat further if boiling too vigorously.) Remove the apples from the syrup using a slotted spoon; set both the apples and the syrup aside.
Put the cornstarch in another saucepan. Gradually stir in milk, and stir until smooth. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Add the syrup that the apples were cooked in. Bring back to a boil, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the salt, butter, and vanilla.
To serve: May be served hot or cold. (I served it hot.) Put in the cooked apples in serving dishes, and spoon sauce over them.
By 1920, lemons were readily available across the U.S. Trains quickly transported them across the country. And, the California Fruit Growers Exchange had even branded lemons produced by its growers as Sunkist Lemons.
I enjoy eating old-fashioned foods. Many others prefer trendy foods. Apparently people have wanted to eat “modern” foods for a long time. According to this advertisement, the modern way to serve tea is with lemon instead of cream – which suggests that the ad copy writer believed that promoting modern food combinations was a winning strategy for an ad campaign.
I recently came across a recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook for Emily’s White Cake, and decided to give it a try. I was intrigued by the recipe’s name. Who was Emily? – The recipe’s author? . . her daughter? . . . a neighbor who shared the recipe? . . .
I also wondered: Are recipes that are named after someone more likely to be good than more generically named ones? . . . or vice versa?
To make the frosting, I used a recipe in the same cookbook.
Here are the original recipes:
The old recipe referred to moderate heat and high heat (and probably assumed that the cook was using a wood or coal stove). Many cakes are baked at 350° F, so I just used that temperature. It took a little longer to bake the cake than indicated in the old recipe.
The old cake recipe called for 3 tablespoons of baking powder – which seemed like a lot. I wondered if it was a typo – and really supposed to be 3 teaspoons. But in the end, I went with what the recipe said and used 3 tablespoons. The frosted cake tasted fine – though I think that it might have been better if I’d used less baking powder. (I ate a few cake crumbs, and they may have been a bit bitter, but it was not noticeable once the cake was frosted.)
[9/14/20 Note: Based on the research and comments of readers about other sources for this recipe – e.g., old Crisco advertisement that contained the recipe, other editions of the cookbook – I’ve determined that 3 tablespoons of baking powder was a typo and that it should be 3 teaspoons. I now include this information in the updated recipe.]
I doubled the recipe for Confectioner’s Chocolate Frosting to make enough to ice the cake layers. When I made the Confectioner’s Chocolate Frosting, the consistency and spreadability seemed a bit off, so I added 3 tablespoons of melted butter. This greatly improved the texture of the frosting, so when I updated the recipe I included butter as an ingredient.
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
Emily's White Cake with Confectioner's Chocolate Frosting
3 tablespoons baking powder (I used 3 tablespoons which is what the old recipe called for, but other sources for this recipe state that 3 teaspoons should be used. The larger amount worked, but if I made the recipe again I’d use 3 teaspoons of baking powder. See note in blog post for details.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring
3 egg (whites only)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans.
Put egg whites in a medium mixing bowl; beat until stiff. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add flour, baking powder, salt, water, flour, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Bake about 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool, then assemble layers and frost.
Confectioner’s Chocolate Frosting
2 squares chocolate, melted
3 tablespoons butter melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons boiling water (more water may be needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
Put the melted chocolate and butter in sauce pan, add the granulated sugar and water. Heat using medium heat, while stirring until smooth. Remove from heat add the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar. Stir until smooth. Add additional water, if needed.
Sometimes little things – like putting a vase with a few cut flowers on the table where I eat – energize me, and make an okay day seem like a great day. People a hundred years ago also appreciated cut flowers. According to a 1920 home economics cookbook, in a chapter titled Serving Luncheons:
Fresh flowers give a lovely touch to the dining table, but they must not obstruct the view of persons sitting opposite each other (Fig. 69). Flowers may be kept fresh for several days if the water is changed daily.
Household Arts for Home and School (Vol. 2) (1920) by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr
I select most of the hundred-year-old recipes that I post on this blog because they genuinely sound like something I might enjoy. But, occasionally I chose a recipe because it seems so odd. This is one of these times.
The March, 1920 issue of American Cookery featured Frozen Canned Apricots – which is basically canned apricots frozen in the can. After they are frozen, they are removed from the can, and placed on a plate in the middle of a circle of marshmallow cream.
In 1920, there were few photos in magazines, but the editors of American Cookery were so enthralled with this recipe that they included not only the recipe, but also a photo.
The Frozen Canned Apricots were surprisingly tasty. My daughter said, “This is better than most of the recipes you make.” I decided that it was best not to probe too deeply into what that meant, but I think that it was praise.
There was a downside to the recipe. I didn’t really like the way it looked on the plate. If I made this recipe again, I think that I would just put the canned apricots and syrup in a freezer box, freeze – and then scoop the frozen mixture into bowls with a little marshmallow cream topping.
Here’s the original recipe:
The old recipe called for freezing the contents of the can using ice and salt (somewhat similarly to how ice cream is made). A hundred-years-ago, most cooks probably didn’t have freezers, but since I have one, I decided to just open a can of apricots, cover it with plastic wrap, and freeze it in the freezer. This worked fine.
The old recipe called for a pint (2 cups) of marshmallow cream. When I made the recipe, that seemed like too much, so I only used approximately 1 cup.
Remove lid from can of apricots. Cover with plastic wrap, then secure the wrap with a rubber band. Put in freezer until frozen. (I froze it overnight.) About an hour before serving, remove from freezer, and let sit at room temperature. When ready to serve, make a circle of marshmallow cream (approximately 7-8 inches in diameter) on a plate. Slide the frozen apricots out of the can, and then place the frozen apricots in the middle of the marshmallow cream. Serve immediately.