Hundred-Year-Old Advice: White Flour is Best for Making Bread

Today there are many tasty bread options. Some breads are made with wheat flour and contain gluten; others are gluten free.  Here’s a hundred-year-old description of the different types of flour that might be used to make bread:


White flour is the most important in bread making. Wheat contains gluten, which is the name given to the protein content. When the grain is ground into a fine flour, the gluten is elastic and has the power of stretching and expanding; making it ideal for bread making since it retains the air and carbon dioxide and hardens on baking, forming the framework of the loaf of bread.

The protein in corn and oats lacks this quality and therefore they are combined with white flour for baking purposes. Rye flour may be used alone or with white flour in bread making.

The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

Orange Puffs with Orange Sauce

I recently found a delightful recipe for Orange Puffs with Orange Sauce in a hundred-year-old cookbook. The puffs are baked in a muffin pan, and are tender and moist with a hint of orange. Served with the refreshing, sunny orange sauce, this dessert is a winner.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

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

Orange Puffs with Orange Sauce

  • Servings: approximately 10 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Orange Puffs

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 400° F. Put flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl; stir to combine. Add milk, egg, and butter; and beat thoroughly. Then stir in the grated orange peel. Grease a muffin pan, then spoon batter into muffin cups. Fill each cup about 3/4ths full. Place in oven. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until lightly browned and the muffins spring back when lightly touched. Serve warm with Orange Sauce.

Orange Sauce

1 orange

1 1/4 tablespoons cornstarch

dash salt

2 tablespoons water + 1 cup water

Grate orange peel (reserving 1 tablespoon for the Orange Puffs) and then juice orange; set aside.

Put the cornstarch and salt in a sauce pan. Add 2 tablespoons of water; stir until smooth. Add additional 1 cup water. Bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the sauce thickens. Add orange juice and grated orange peel; bring back to a boil, then remove from heat.  Serve warm.

Cook’s note: My rule of thumb for using cornstarch is 1 tablespoon cornstarch for each cup of liquid. The amount of cornstarch may need to be adjusted depending upon how much juice is gotten from the orange.

Diet that will Help Prevent Tooth Decay

Every time I visit the dentist I seem to have a new cavity, so I was thrilled to find some advice about how to eat in ways that will prevent tooth decay in a hundred-year-old magazine. Here are some excerpts:

Diet in the Prevention of Dental Decay

Is there any mother who would not, if she could ensure a strong beautiful set of teeth for each of her boys and girls? Alfred Owre, dean of the dental department of the University of Minnesota feels strongly about the possibility of keeping teeth in a perfectly sound and healthy condition throughout life. He emphasizes the necessity of using hard foods, especially during the period when the bones of the jaws are developing in order to bring into full pay the organs of mastication, and he also emphasizes the necessity of eating plenty of coarse, fibrous food to keep the teeth well polished and to wear down irregularities of their surfaces.

Professor Henry Pierce Pickerill, director of the dental department of the University of Otago, and one of the foremost English authorities on the subject, agrees with Dr. Owre, on the points mentioned, but he emphasizes also the importance of keeping the mouth clean of sticky, sweet, acid-forming debris of food by selecting a preponderance of foods which are anti-acid, and eating at the end of meals such fibrous foods as celery, raw carrots, or apples. He calls attention to the scouring effect which these foods exert under the two-hundred-pound pressure of the normal bite, and their tendency to increase the quantity and quality of the flow of cleansing saliva.

It is only the residue of sweet and starch foods that is dangerous, particles of meat and other tissue-forming foods are not being fermentable or acid-forming. Our first safeguard then, lies in keeping the mouth as free as possible from sweet or starch particles of food. The second safeguard, and one which has been almost entirely neglected hitherto, lies in promoting, by a correct choice and sequence of food at meal time, a strong flow of highly alkaline saliva to neutralize the acid as it forms.

But it is long before a child begins to take solid food that the task of providing a strong set of teeth must be begun. Dr. J. I. Durand has proved that breast-fed babies stand the best chance of developing strong and beautiful teeth later in life. Babies fed on properly modified cow’s milk stand the next best chance. And babies fed on sweetened condensed milk are under the severest handicap. Moreover, Dr. Durance recommends the early addition of meat, fruits, and vegetables with their mineral constituents to the child’s diet. Orange-juice, he declares, may be given in small quantities any time after the first month, and vegetables, fruits, and meats, also in small amounts as early as the sixth or seventh month.

Then, too in babyhood the infant’s jaw is developing and it is very important that the child should be given an opportunity to exercise the muscles of mastication through chewing on tough crusts, tough strips of meat, bones, and other hard and tough articles. Otherwise the jaw does not develop properly and provide sufficient room for the teeth. When a jaw is too small the teeth are inclined to be crowded and irregular. This affects not only the child’s good looks, but it makes it easier for pieces of food to lodge between the teeth.

Good Housekeeping (January, 1918)

Old-fashioned Rhubarb Dumplings

Each spring I eagerly await the arrival of rhubarb at the local market.  I bought some rhubarb last week-end,  so I was thrilled to find a  hundred-year-old recipe for Rhubarb Dumplings in a hundred-year-old cookbook.

The Rhubarb Dumplings were tender with a refreshingly tart rhubarb filling embedded in a sweet custard-like sauce.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

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

Rhubarb Dumplings

  • Servings: approximately 12 dumplings
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Rhubarb Dumplings

2 – 2 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut in 1-inch pieces

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 egg

shortcake dough (see below)



whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 425° F. Put sugar, flour, and egg in a small bowl; stir to combine. On a pastry cloth or other prepared surface, roll shortcake dough to 1/4 inch thickness; cut into squares, 4-inches by 4-inches. Put heaping 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) in the center of each square, then cover with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and egg mixture. Fold dough so that the points overlap on top of the rhubarb mixture. Put the dumplings in a large flat baking dish, about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. If desired, serve with whipped cream.


2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup milk

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in the shortening; then add the milk. Stir gently with a fork to create a dough.

The old recipe only called for 1 1/2 cups of rhubarb. When I made this recipe, I had difficulty measuring 2 tablespoons of rhubarb for each dumpling. (Rhubarb is just too thick to fit well on a spoon.) So I used a 1/8 cup scoop, and put a heaping scoop of rhubarb in each dumpling, I ended up running out of rhubarb before I’d used all the shortcake dough, so I cut up an additional stalk of rhubarb. I think in the end that I used 2 – 2 1/2 cups of rhubarb. The dumplings were excellent, though if I made them again, I might put even more rhubarb in each dumpling.

Don’ts for the Homemaker

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

Here’s some tips for homemakers that appeared in a cooking magazine called American Cookery a hundred years ago. Not sure how many of these tips still apply. And, are these tips just for homemakers or are they applicable to most anyone?

Old-Fashioned Creamed Celery and Green Peppers

Creamed vegetables on toast are one of my favorite comfort foods, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for a combination that was new to me. Creamed Celery and Green Pepper is delightful. The celery and the green pepper complement each other perfectly. The chunks of green pepper add flavor and reduce any bitterness in the celery.  This quick and easy recipe is a keeper.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (October, 1917)

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

Creamed Celery and Green Pepper

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 1/2 cups celery, cut in 1-inch pieces

1 small green pepper (1/2 of a typical large supermarket green pepper), cut into vertical slices 3/4 inch wide, then halved

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

1 1/2 cups milk


Put celery in a saucepan, and cover with water. Using high heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and drain.  Stir green pepper pieces into the celery.

In the meantime, in a skillet, melt butter using low heat. Stir the flour into the butter; add salt and pepper. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the celery and green pepper pieces, and bring back to a boil; remove from heat. Serve over toast.

Hundred-Year-Old Fleischmann’s Yeast Advertisement

Source: The Housewife’s Cookbook by Lilla Frich (1917)

I always find it challenging to interpret hundred-year-old bread recipes. The old recipes generally call for cakes of yeast, and I’m never quite sure how that translates when using modern dry yeasts.

So I was amazed when I saw a hundred-year-old advertisement for Fleischmann’s Yeast in the back of a 1917 cookbook. Was Fleischmann’s Yeast a cake back then? Perhaps the product has been refined and modernized across the years, but the same company has been around for at least a century.