Old-Fashioned Sponge Drops

drop cookies on plate

On hot summer days many cookies seem too heavy, so I browsed through my hundred-year-old cookbooks for a light, summer cookie. And, I think that I found the perfect recipe. Sponge Drops are the “angel food” of cookies. They are light and airy with a hint of vanilla.

Though I didn’t try it, I think that these cookies would work well to make ice cream sandwiches.

I’m still intrigued by how many desserts a hundred years ago had the word “sponge” in the title. There were sponge cakes, sponge pies, this sponge cookie recipe – and two weeks ago, I made a recipe for Apricot Sponge. I think that sponge refers to desserts with lots of beaten eggs that give them a certain lightness or creaminess.

Here is the original recipe:

recipe for sponge drops
Source: The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sponge Drops

  • Servings: approximately 30 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400° F. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda; set aside.

In a mixing bowl beat eggs, then add sugar and beat. Stir in flour mixture and vanilla. Drop by rounded teaspoons on greased baking sheet. (The teaspoons should just be round – not heaping. These cookies spread out quite a bit.) Bake about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Old-fashioned Chicken, Rice, and Celery Salad

I’m sometimes asked how I decide which hundred-year-old recipes to make. Often I make recipes that sound like something I think I might like; other times I select recipes because I’m intrigued by an unusual combination of ingredients or preparation methods.

This week, was a first. Another blogger’s post inspired me to select a particular hundred-year-old recipe.

I recently read Automatic Gardening and Real Gluten Free Food’s recipe for Cold Chicken Rice Salad – and thought, “I think that I’ve seen a similar recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook.” Next thing I knew, I was making a 1919 recipe for Chicken, Rice, and Celery Salad.

Chicken, Rice, and Celery Salad has a nice texture, and is packed with flavor. Both a hundred years ago and now, this salad is perfect for a summer lunch or picnic.

Recipe for Chicken, Rice, and Celery Salad
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

Here is the original recipe:

When I made the recipe, I used some lettuce, but not an entire head. Similarly I used less mayonnaise than the old recipe called for.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Chicken, Rice, and Celery Salad

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

1 cup cold long-grain cooked rice

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup lettuce, shredded

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Put chicken, rice, celery, and lettuce in a bowl, then gently mix together.

In a separate small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, salt, and paprika, then add to the chicken mixture and gently stir to combine.

Apricot Sponge Recipe

apricot sponge

Apricots are my favorite June fruit. Around here, they are only available a few weeks, and each year I eagerly look forward to their appearance at the store. I recently bought some apricots, so was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Apricot Sponge.

Apricot Sponge is a smooth, silky dessert that is served with whipped cream.

My daughter ate some Apricot Sponge, and said, “A top-five recipe.”  In her opinion, this is one of the top five hundred-year-old recipes that I’ve served her. She thinks that it tastes like a luscious dessert that she ate at a fancy restaurant.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Apricot Sponge

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 pound apricots (about 7 medium apricots)

water for peeling apricots

1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1 envelope (0.25 ounce) unflavored gelatin

2  egg whites (pasteurized)

whipped cream (see below)

First, peel apricots. To do this, fill a saucepan two-thirds full with water. Using high heat bring to a boil. Drop apricots into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from water with a spoon. Pinch a piece of the loosened apricot skin, then peel by slipping the skin off.

Cut the peeled apricots in half and remove stones. Place the apricots halves in a saucepan; add 1/4 cup of water. Using medium heat, heat until the apricots are softened, while stirring occasionally (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat, then push the cooked apricots through a sieve. (I used a Foley mill). Measure the apricot pulp. There should be approximately 1 cup. Return to pan and reheat.

In the meantime, put 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl; sprinkle the gelatin on the water. Let sit for about 3 minutes. Then stir the softened gelatin and the sugar into the hot apricot pulp.

Remove from heat, put into refrigerator and chill at least 3 hours.

After the mixture has chilled, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then, beat the chilled apricot mixture until smooth. Gently fold the beaten apricot mixture into the beaten egg whites. Spoon into serving bowls or cups.  Serve with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Put cream in a bowl; beat until stiff peaks form. Add confectioners’ sugar; beat until combined.

Corn Flake Griddlecakes

A hundred years ago people ate many unprocessed, local foods – but, even way back then, many processed foods were available; and, cooks often considered them more modern and up-to-date than more natural foods. This week I decided to make a recipe that called for two commercially manufactured foods – corn flakes and Crisco.

The recipe I selected was for Corn Flake Griddlecakes. This recipe is from a 1919 cookbook published by Procter and Gamble that promoted the use of Crisco.

And, even though I am somewhat biased against using highly processed foods as an ingredient, I must admit that the Corn Flake Griddlecakes were delicious. They were thick, yet light, with just a hint of the toasty corn flakes.

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe for corn flake griddlecakes
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

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

Corn Flake Griddlecakes (Pancakes)

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon shortening

1 cup corn flakes

Put flour, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, and shortening in a mixing bowl, beat until smooth. Stir in corn flakes. Heat a lightly greased griddle to a medium temperature, then pour or scoop batter onto the hot surface to make individual griddlecakes. Cook on one side , then flip and cook other side.

Old-fashioned Feather Cake

square piece of feather cake

A recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook for Feather Cake piqued my interest. Was the cake really as light as a feather?

The short answer: No. The longer answer: This cake might not be as light as a feather, but it’s still delightful.

Feather Cake is a spice cake with nuanced tones of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. It has a lovely texture – though it was not a particularly light cake. The cake was easy to make, and the recipe made a small 8 -inch square cake that is perfect for a small family.

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe for feather cake
Source: The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

Baking powder is a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar. This recipe calls for both baking soda and cream of tartar (rather than just using baking powder) – which suggests that even though this recipe appeared in a 1919 cookbook that its origins might be much earlier.

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

Feather Cake

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup raisins (optional) (I didn’t use raisins when I made this recipe.)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan. Put all ingredients (except for the raisins) in a mixing bowl. Beat until well blended. If desired, stir in the raisins. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Frost if desired.

Old-fashioned Rhubarb Fanchonettes (Rhubarb Tarts with Meringue Topping)

It’s peak rhubarb season here – so it’s time to try new rhubarb recipe. . . Well, actually, this being A Hundred Years Ago, it’s time to try a “new” old recipe. I found a great recipe for Rhubarb Fanchonettes in a 1919 magazine. Fanchonettes are basically Rhubarb Tarts with Meringue Topping.

The Fanchonettes are a perfect spring treat. The small, individual tarts are a nice size for a snack or dessert. The rhubarb filling is delightfully tart and balanced by the sweet meringue topping.

Here is the original recipe:

rhubarb fanchonettes recipe
Source: American Cookery (March, 1919)

I found some aspects of this recipe fussy and  challenging. For example, I couldn’t figure out why the rhubarb needed to be cooked twice, so I just cooked the rhubarb until tender and then stirred in the other ingredients, but didn’t reheat. And, what are brownie tins?

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Old-fashioned Rhubarb Fanchonettes (Rhubarb Tarts with Meringue Topping)

  • Servings: 12 - 15 Fanchonettes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Fanchonettes

5 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1 tablespoon grated orange peel (I used lemon juice.)

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons flour

2 egg yolks, beaten

pie pastry (Enough for a 2-crust 9-inch pie – more may be needed if pre-rolled sheets are used. I re-rolled pastry scraps several times to make all of the small fanchonette shells.)

Place rhubarb pieces and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the rhubarb is tender while stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and strain to remove excess liquid. (It is okay if there is still a little liquid after draining). Measure the cooked rhubarb; there should be approximately 2 cups. (Excess rhubarb can be sweetened and eaten as stewed rhubarb.) Return to pan. Stir in lemon juice, sugar, salt, and flour. Quickly stir in the egg yolks. (If the rhubarb is still very hot, stir a small amount of the cooked rhubarb to the beaten egg yolks while stirring rapidly to avoid coagulation of the yolks; then quickly stir the egg yolk mixture into the remaining rhubarb.) Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll pastry dough and cut into pieces. Fit each piece into a small pie pan; trim and flute edges to make the fanchonette shells. (I used a fairly shallow muffin pan to make the fanchonettes.) The number needed will vary depending upon size, but approximately 12-15 should be enough to hold all the filling.

Fill each fanchonette shell with cooked rhubarb mixture. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F. Continue baking until the rhubarb comes to a slow rolling boil. Remove from oven, and top each fanchonette with a heaping tablespoonful of Meringue (see recipe below). Spread Meringue to edge of fanchonette. Bake at 325° F. for 10 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.

Meringue

2 egg whites

4 tablespoons sugar

Place egg whites in a bowl, and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar while continuing to beat.

Old-fashioned Fried Spring (Green) Onions

fried spring onions

Now that winter is rapidly becoming a distant memory, I’m enjoying the first of the local 2019 vegetables, spring (green) onions. They are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B2, and thiamine. They also are a good source of copper, phosphorous, magnesium, chromium, and other minerals; so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Fried Spring Onions.

The Fried Green Onions are served with bacon in a light gravy. They were easy to make and tasty.

Here is the original recipe:

recipe for fried green onions
Source: The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fried Spring (Green) Onions

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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6 bunches spring onions (about 2 1/2 cups of green onions cut into 1-inch pieces)

3 slices bacon, diced

1 tablespoon flour

2 cups boiling water

Clean spring onions, then cut off roots and the top part of the onions. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.

Place the bacon in a skillet; then using medium heat fry bacon until browned while stirring occasionally. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside.

Place the onion pieces in the hot fat in the skillet and saute until tender while stirring occasionally (about 5-7 minutes). Push onion pieces to side of pan and stir in the flour. Slowly add the boiling water while stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, add bacon pieces. Gently stir to combine the bacon and onions. Remove from heat and serve immediately.