Old-fashioned Ribbon Cake

Slice of Ribbon Cake

Spice cakes are a favorite around our house, so when a birthday rolled around I got the usual request for a spice cake. I wanted to honor the request – yet at the same time, do something different – so I was pleased to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Ribbon Cake, which is a three-layer cake. There are yellow cake layers on the top and bottom with a spice cake layer in the middle.

The spice cake layer contained two dried fruits- chopped raisins and chopped figs. I’ve often eaten spice cakes with raisins. This is the first time I’ve ever had one that also contained figs, and they were a wonderful addition. When eating the cake, I couldn’t distinguish between the chopped figs and the chopped raisins – but together they added a richer and more nuanced flavor and texture than if just raisins had been used.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Ribbon Cake

The old recipe doesn’t say to beat the egg white before adding to the cake batter, but I did since I couldn’t figure out why else the recipe would have called for separating the eggs. Adding beaten egg whites results in a lighter cake.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Ribbon Cake

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 eggs separated

1 cup milk

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon mace

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon molasses

1/3 cup raisins, chopped

1/3 cup dried figs, chopped

apple jelly

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans; line with waxed paper or parchment paper, then grease again and lightly flour.

Put egg whites into a mixing bowl, and beat until peaks form. Set aside.

Put butter, sugar, egg yolks, milk, flour, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Beat until well-mixed. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Pour the 2/3’s of the batter into two cake pans (1/3 in each pan).

Add the cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and molasses to the remaining batter. Gently stir until thoroughly combined, then gently stir in the raisins and figs. Put in the third cake pan.

Bake the three layers for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled.

Trim cake layers if needed to make even, then put a yellow cake layer on a plate. Spread with apple jelly, and then put the spice cake layer on top of it. Spread with apple jelly, and then place the remaining yellow cake layer on top.

If desired, frost cake. (I frosted the cake with buttercream icing that was flavored with maple extract.)

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Frozen Tom and Jerry (Ice Cream)

ice cream in dishFrozen Tom and Jerry is an ice cream that is named after a classic cocktail called a Tom and Jerry. The cocktail is a hot holiday drink that is similar to hot eggnog, but contains both rum and brandy. Frozen Tom and Jerry is a delightful ice cream that has a hint of rum and brandy, and is perfect for  a hot summer day.

I found the recipe in the 1921 edition of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. According to my daughter, Frozen Tom and Jerry could be served at a party, and no one would guess that the recipe was a hundred years old. (I think this is a compliment.)

I was intrigued that this recipe (as well as others in this cookbook) called for alcohol. Since prohibition began in the U.S. in 1920, and alcohol was prohibited, few 1921 cookbooks list any alcoholic beverages as a recipe ingredient. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book is an exception and there are numerous recipes which call for alcohol – maybe because it was an update of a pre-prohibition cookbook. I wonder where cooks were supposed to purchase the brandy and rum used in the recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Frozen Tom and Jerry
Source: The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1921 Edition)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Frozen Tom and Jerry (Ice Cream)

  • Servings: about 1 1/2 quarts
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups milk

3/4 cup sugar

6 egg yolks, beaten

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons rum

1 tablespoon brandy

In a large saucepan, put milk, sugar, egg yolks, and salt; stir to combine. Using medium heat, cook the mixture while stirring continuously until the mixture is hot and steamy, and coats a spoon. It should be removed from the heat before it boils. Strain; then put in the refrigerator to chill. When cold, stir in the cream, put in ice cream freezer and freeze. When the ice cream is frozen and close to being done, add the rum and brandy. Continue freezing in the ice cream freezer until the rum and brandy is thoroughly mixed into the ice cream (about 2-3 minutes).

When I made this recipe, I used a 1 1/2 quart automatic ice cream maker that used a bowl which is frozen in the freezer overnight, but a regular ice cream maker would also work.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Stewed Prunes

stewed prunes

Hundred-year-old cookbooks sometimes contain very basic recipes, such as a recipe for stewed prunes. I’m a little surprised when an author puts such a simple recipe in a cookbook – though I also find it fascinating how basic foods have changed over the past hundred years. Back then (and even when I was young) prunes were very dry and needed extensive soaking and cooking to make tender stewed prunes; whereas today many supermarket prunes are very moist when taken out of the package and need to be stewed for only a few minutes.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Stewed Prunes
Source: The New Cookery (1921) by Lenna Frances Cooper

One-half pound of prunes is about 1 cup of prunes. I’m not clear why the directions refer to 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon for each two cups of prunes. Maybe the author was referring to the volume of prunes after they are soaked. In any case, when I updated the recipe, rather than trying to estimate the volume of the prunes, I assumed that the recipe calls for adding 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon (if desired).

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

Stewed Prunes

  • Servings: 3 - 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 pound prunes (approximately 1 cup prune)

1 cup water (more may be needed if the prunes are very dry.)

1/4 cup sugar, if desired

1 tablespoon lemon juice, if desired

Put prunes and water in a saucepan. If desired, stir in the sugar. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat until it simmers. Cook until the prunes are tender and the liquid is syrupy (about 15 minutes – if the prunes are moist; longer if they are very dry). Remove from heat, and, if desired stir in the lemon juice.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Coffee Cake

piece of coffee cake on plate

Coffee cake is a wonderful sweet treat to have with coffee (or without), so I was pleased to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Coffee Cake. The cake turned out well. It was moist and tender with a nice cinnamon and sugar topping.

Here’s the original recipe:

Coffee Cake Recipe
Source: The New Dr. Price Cook Book (1921)

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

Coffee Cake

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Cake

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons shortening, melted

1 cup milk

Topping Mixture

3 teaspoons flour + additional, if needed

1 tablespoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons sugar + additional, if needed

3 tablespoons shortening

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put all of the cake ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat to combine. Put batter in a greased and floured 9-inch square cake pan.

In a separate bowl, place the flour cinnamon, and sugar. Stir to combine. Add the shortening, and mix together until the texture is crumbly. It may helpful to use your hands to get the shortening mixed in.  (When I made the recipe I added more flour and sugar than called for in the original recipe, to make it more crumbly).

Spread the topping mixture over the top of the cake. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a wooden pick comes out clean.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Nut Squares

 

Nut Squares on Plate

Warm weather is finally here, and I’m ready to sit on the porch with tea and a snack. So when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Nut Squares that said, “Very nice for afternoon tea,” I knew that I needed to try the recipe.

The Nut Squares were tasty and chock-full of nuts with a crispy crust and a chewy middle.  The one downside is that the crust had a tendency to crack and break when I cut the cookies into bars.

Here’s the original recipe:

Nut Squares on plate
Source: Ladies’ Union Cook Book (Concord Junction, MA, 1921)

I was surprised that the recipe did not call for any butter or shortening – though the cookies still had a nice texture. Perhaps the top crust may have had less tendency to break and crumble off the bars if the recipe had inclued butter or shortening.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Nut Squares

  • Servings: about 24 bars
  • Difficulty: easy
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3 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups chopped nuts (I used chopped walnuts.)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put eggs in mixing bowl and beat. Add sugar, flour, and baking powder; beat until smooth. Pour mixture into a greased 9 X 13 inch baking pan. Bake until set and the top is light brown (about 25 – 30 minutes). Remove from oven. When partially cool cut into squares or 1 X 2 inch bars.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Scrambled Eggs, Country Style

Scrambled Eggs, Country Style on PlastWhen I make scrambled eggs I typically break the eggs into a bowl, add a little milk, salt, and pepper, and then beat the eggs until they are smooth and frothy, but I was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Scrambled Eggs, Country Style, and decided to give it a try. The recipe was extremely easy, and similar to how I make scrambled eggs when camping.

I broke the eggs directly into the skillet and let the egg whites begin to turn white; then I broke the yolks and began mixing the eggs while they cooked. This resulted in bigger chunks of the egg white in the scrambled eggs – but they were tasty.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Scrambled Eggs, Country Style
Source: Boston-Cooking School Cook Book (1921)

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

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Scrambled Eggs, Country Style

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 tablespoons butter

4 eggs

salt and pepper

Using medium heat, melt butter in skillet. Break the eggs into the skillet, and cook until the eggs are partially set with the egg whites beginning to coagulate;  then break the yolks and stir and fold the eggs until they are completely cooked. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to season.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Cheese Puffs

Cheese Puffs on Plate

When I think of Cheese Puffs, I think of a cheesy snack that’s in the snack aisle at the supermarket, so I was surprised to see a hundred-year-old recipe for cheese puffs. These Cheese Puffs are a delightful cheesy tidbit that can be eaten as a snack or a part of a meal.

The old recipe recommends serving the Cheese Puffs with a salad, which is what I did. Cheese Puffs and a salad are just right for a light lunch.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Cheese Puffs
Source: Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cook Books (The North American Newspaper, Philadelphia, Winter, 1921)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cheese Puffs

  • Servings: approximately 12 Cheese Puffs
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup water

1/8 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar cheese.) + additional grated cheese to garnish

1 egg

Preheat oven to 400° F. Put butter and water in a large sauce pan; bring to a boil. Stir in salt, pepper, and flour. Remove from heat, and add 1/4 cup grated cheese and egg; stir until thoroughly mixed.

Place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with addiitonal grated cheese. Put in oven and bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned. If desired, serve with a salad.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com