I found an intriguing recipe for something called Dutch Apple Cake in a small 1911 promotional cookbook published by K C Baking Powder. Even though it was called a cake, the serving suggestions in the original recipe said, “serve hot, with butter, as bread for supper or with hard sauce as a pudding.”
My curiosity got the best of me–What was it? . . . a cake? . . . a bread? . . . a pudding?
Well, I made the recipe, and I’m still not quite sure. When I ate it warm, it tasted like a bread. It had a nice texture with apples and currants embedded in a rich, sticky cinnamon-sugar syrup on top that reminded me slightly of the syrup on old-fashioned “sticky buns.”
But after it cooled, it seemed more like a coffee cake–a very nice coffee cake. I didn’t try it with hard sauce so I’m not sure whether it also seems similar to steamed puddings–but I did post on old hard sauce recipe awhile back so maybe someone else will try that and let us know.
The rows of cinnamon-sugar coated apple slices and currants give this bread/cake a striking, almost elegant look. It’s perfect to serve when a friend stops over for a cup of coffee. . . and if the conversation starts to lag, this food is a wonderful conversation starter: “Is this a cake, bread, or pudding?”
Preheat oven to 375° F. In a small bowl combine sugar, cinnamon, and currants. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, butter, egg, and milk. Stir until a thick dough forms. Put dough into a well-greased bread pan. Firmly press the narrow edges of the apple slices into the dough in parallel rows; then sprinkle with the sugar and currant mixture. Place in oven and bake approximately 40-45 minutes–or until a wooden pick inserted into the cake (not the apples) comes out clean. Remove from oven.
Use apples that hold their shape in this recipe. I used Braeburn apples.
Today, reasonably priced eggs are generally available year-round, but a hundred years ago people worried about the high price of eggs.
Here’s some advice in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook:
The demand for fresh eggs is great, and so many eggs are exported, that the price is high. Twenty-five cents a dozen is a reasonable price, but this is below the average at the present date. Thirty-five cents a dozen will permit the moderate use of eggs as the main dish for breakfast or luncheon sometimes, but not a liberal use in cakes and desserts.
If a recipe for soft custard calls for three eggs to a pint of milk, leave out one egg or even two, and use one or two tablespoons of cornstarch.
Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts (1915)
Winter farmers’ markets in the small suburb where I live are always a bit of an adventure, and I’m never quite sure what will be available. I recently was thrilled to find some lovely parsnips, but then I had a challenge: Could I find an interesting hundred-year-old recipe that called for parsnips?
I browsed through a couple 1916 issues of Good Housekeeping magazine and came across an intriguing recipe for Parsnip Balls, and decided to give it a try.
The Parsnip Balls only had a few ingredients and were surprisingly easy to make. They turned out awesomely. The balls were coated with ground walnuts which added a bit of crunch to the earthy, sweetness of the parsnips. This recipe is a keeper.
Peel parsnips and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place cubed parsnips in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Using high heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until parsnips are tender. Drain parsnips, and then mash. In the meantime, crush the saltine crackers to make crumbs.
Combine mashed parsnip, cracker crumbs, egg yolk, and salt in a bowl. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls; then roll in ground walnuts. Place the shortening into a frying pan, and heat until hot. Drop balls into the hot shortening, then gently roll the balls with a fork until all sides are a light brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.
Several days ago I posted a list of food suggestions for a Valentine’s Day party from a hundred-year-old issue of Boston Cooking School Magazine. The magazine included the recipe for one of the suggestions –Valentine Salad–so, I decided to make it for my sweetheart.
Valentine Salad actually was an old-time tomato aspic cut into heart shapes, with hard-boiled egg slices. The aspic is a jellied savory mixture of homemade tomato and other vegetable juices.
The presentation was a bit much with the heart-shaped lettuce and aspic, but the Valentine Salad had a surprisingly nuanced and sophisticated tangy tomato flavor. My husband said it tasted like a Bloody Mary without the alcohol.
Here’ s my adaptation of the original recipe for modern cooks:
Valentine Salad (Tomato Aspic with Hard-Boiled Egg
Servings: 2 - 3 servings
Time: 1 hour active prep and assembly; additional time for mixture to chill and jell
Combine tomatoes, onion, cloves, parsley, celery, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Reserve the juice.
In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the cold water. Then add to the gelatin mixture to the hot vegetable juice. Pour into a flat pan approximately 6″ X 6″. Refrigerate until firm. Briefly dip bottom of pan in hot water, then slide the jellied mixture onto a plate. Cut part of the jellied mixture into hearts about two inches in diameter. With a smaller cutter, cut the same number of hearts about 3/4 inch in diameter.
To assemble – For each serving, place a lettuce leaf on a plate, top with a large heart. On top of the heart place a egg slice, followed by a small heart. Garnish with small pieces of hard-boiled egg.
If desired serve with mayonnaise.
*The cooked vegetable mixture can used in a different recipe. For example, I served it over rice.
It is so important to communicate information clearly. Today when people use the term data visualization they are generally referring to computer software that creates easily-to-understand graphics.
But, sometimes I’m blown away by the creativity of the graphics in old books. I absolutely love a picture in a hundred-year-old home economics book that compares 100 calorie portion sizes for milk and cream.
I knew that skim milk has fewer calories than whole milk— but I’ve never been quite sure how to use that information to answer practical questions like: If I switch from whole milk to skim milk, how much more skim milk can I drink without gaining weight?
Now I know the answer–about 1/2 cup more. Of course, this picture has limitations–Where’s the 1% and 2% milk?