Hundred-Year-Old Recipe for Apple Johnny Cake (Apple Corn Bread)

Apple Johny CakeCan I let you in on a secret? March is one of the most difficult months to eat local seasonal foods. Winter staples like squash, onions, cabbage. . . even apples are starting to seen humdrum. And, it will be at least a few weeks until local fresh produce is available. Usually, I cheat a little and buy strawberries and asparagus at the supermarket, and justify it by saying they are March fruits and vegetables. . . somewhere.

But, when I browse through hundred-year-old magazines, I’m keenly aware that people  actually ate local foods that had been stored all winter during March back then.

I decided to that today I was going to make an authentic March food and began flipping through the March, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping. I came across an old recipe for Apple Johnny Cake that intrigued me.

This corn bread contains no sugar and feels healthier than modern sugared corn bread. The apples (I used Braeburn apples) embedded in the Johnny Cake are the sole source of sweetness, and work perfectly in this recipe.

The Apple Johnny Cake was good–though I must admit that I can hardly wait for the local spring fruits and vegetables to arrive on the scene (or I might cheat and buy some more Mexico, California, or Florida produce when I go to the supermarket tomorrow).

Here’s my updated version of the hundred-year-old recipe for modern cooks:

Apple Johnny Cake (Apple Corn Bread)

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 cups corn meal

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups milk

3 apples, pared and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put corn meal, flour, baking powder, salt, and milk into a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir in apple slices, and then put the batter into a well-greased 9 inch X 9 inch baking pan. Place in oven. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

And, here is the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1916)

The Apple Johnny Cake was an interesting corn bread, but I wanted to also try eating it crumbled and served with milk as described in the recipe.

I broke a piece of Apple Johnny Cake into a bowl (and sprinkled it with a little sugar), then poured milk on it. It was surprisingly tasty. I can see why children enjoyed this dish a hundred years ago.

Apple Johny Cake in Milk

Dutch Apple Cake (Dutch Apple Bread) Recipe

Dutch Apple Cake

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?”

Dutch Apple Cake (Dutch Apple Bread)

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 cup dried currants

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

2-3 apples, peeled and sliced

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.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Cook's Book (K C Baking Powder, 1911)
Source: The Cook’s Book (K C Baking Powder, 1911)

Baked Pork Chops with Apples Recipe

DSCN1755

Pork chops are a food that I crave in mid-winter, but would seldom think about eating in July. Maybe it brings back vague memories of eating freshly butchered pork in January when I was a child.  When I saw an intriguing recipe in the January, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping for Baked Pork Chops with Apples, I immediately knew that I wanted to try it. The old magazine featured the recipe–and even included a picture.

Source: Good Housekeeping (January, 1916)

The top of a baked apple showily topped each pork chop for a lovely, yet decidedly old-fashioned, presentation. The pork chops had a nice, slightly crispy, bread crumb coating with sage undertones that blended nicely with the tanginess of the baked apples.

Here’s how I adapted the recipe for modern cooks:

Baked Pork Chops with Apples

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1/2 cup bread crumbs (fine)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage

3 pork chops

3 apples

1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) butter

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Combine bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and sage. Coat the pork chops with the bread crumb mixture and put in a baking dish or oven-proof skillet. Cut the top 1 1/2 inch off the apples and core. (Reserve the remainder of apple for use in another recipe.) Center a cored apple top on each pork chop; place 1 teaspoon of butter in the center of each apple. Bake for 45 minutes or until the pork chop is thoroughly cooked.

And, here is the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (January, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (January, 1916)

Glazed Mint Apples Recipe

Glazed Mint Apples

I love these last lazy-daisy days of summer. The apples are ripe, the mint plants in my garden are going wild—and I found a recipe that used both ingredients in a hundred-year-old magazine.

Glazed Mint Apples are easy to make: and a healthy, refreshing dessert. Life is good!

Glazed Mint Apples

6 apples (McIntosh or other variety that retains shape when cooked)

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

2 dozen mint sprigs

Boil sugar and water together for fifteen minutes. Pare and core apples, and place in a frying pan. Pour the sugar syrup over them, add eighteen of the mint-sprigs tied in a bunch, and simmer slowly. Turn often to prevent them from becoming mushy. Each time the apples are turned, use spoon to baste apples with sugar syrup. When the apples have softened (about 20 minutes), remove carefully from pan, baste with a small amount syrup, and put a sprig of mint in the hole of each apple. Serve warm or cold.

Adapted from a recipe in Good Housekeeping (October, 1915)

Old-fashioned Fall Fruit Compote Recipe

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, November 10, 1914:  <<no entry>>Fall fuirt compote 2

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I t thought you might enjoy an old compote recipe that uses Fall fruits.

Old-Fashioned Fall Fruit Compote

3 pears

3 apples

3/4 cup raisins

1 1/2 cup cider

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Core pears and apples (but do not peel); then cut into 1-inch cubes. Combine cubed pears and apples, raisins, cider, water,  cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar in large saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and cook for another 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat; drain using a colander, saving save the liquid. Combine the reserved liquid with the cornstarch; and return to saucepan. Using medium heat, reheat while stirring constantly until the liquid thickens. Remove from heat, and combine with the cooked fruit. Cool and serve.

Makes 4-5 servings

Apple Upside-down Skillet Cake

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, September 12, 1914:  Made a cake today. It looked like having been made by a green-horn.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm. . . what kind of cake did Grandma make? It’s getting to be apple season—maybe Grandma made an Apple Upside-down Skillet Cake. It can be a little tricky to successfully get it out of the pan in one piece—so if care is not used it can end up looking like it was made by a “green-horn.”

Apple Upside-down Skillet Cake

1 2/3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup shortening

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 cups sliced apples

In a mixing bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder, 2/3 cup sugar, shortening, eggs, vanilla, and milk. Beat until there is a smooth batter. Set aside.

Stir 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Add water and butter, and then pour into a 10-inch skillet with an oven-proof handle. Cook on the stove top using medium heat. Stir constantly until sauce boils and becomes clear. Turn off heat. Add the apple slices, and spread evenly in the skillet.

Pour the batter into skillet over the apple slices.

Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the center of cake is springy when lightly pressed with finger tips. Cool in skillet for about ten minutes; then turn out onto a serving plate.

Old-fashioned Apple Fritter Recipe

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, January 13, 1913:  Nothing much for today.

DSC07052

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Something must have happened a hundred years ago today. I wonder what the Muffly’s ate on that mid-January day.

The dishes they ate probably were made with local ingredients that were available in January.  I’ve been enjoying trying old fritter recipes,  and have warm, fuzzy, memories of eating apple fritters on cold winter days.

Old-fashioned Apple Fritters

1 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

2 medium apples chopped

approximately 1/3 cup shortening or lard

powdered sugar

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, egg, and milk. Beat until smooth. Stir in apples.

Heat shortening until hot in large frying pan. Drop spoonfuls of batter into hot shortening.  Flip fritters and fry until golden brown on all sides. The fritters may need to be flipped several times to completely cook due to the thickness of the batter.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Makes  12-16 fritters.