Sour Milk French Toast

Ever wonder what to do with a food once it’s past its prime? A hundred years ago that was often a problem. For example, the homemade bread would often go stale before it was all eaten, and the non-pasteurized milk that most people drank often soured.

The solution was to make a dish that was even tastier than the original foods. The century-old recipe that I found for Sour Milk French Toast calls for – well, you guessed it – sour milk and stale bread.

I had neither sour milk nor stale bread, but decided to give the recipe a try. I used vinegar to “sour” the milk. (Lemon juice would also work.). And, I used day-old homemade bread (though commercially made bread would also work well).

This recipe made a tasty French toast that I’ll definitely make again.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1917)

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

Sour Milk French Toast

  • Servings: 2 - 3 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 -3 slices bread

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice (I used vinegar.)

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons flour

butter

shortening or lard

Stir together milk, vinegar, egg, salt, baking soda, sugar, and flour to create a thin batter. Dip each slice of bread in the batter.

In the meantime, heavily grease griddle or skillet with a mixture of butter, and shortening, or lard. (The old recipe suggests that a mixture of butter and lard might add a nice flavor.)  Heat griddle or skillet, and put prepared slices of bread on it. Brown bottom side; flip and brown on other side. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Old-Fashioned Squash (Yeast) Bread

squash-bread

Have you ever “hidden” vegetables in food to get your kids to eat healthier? I thought that hiding vegetables was a recent trend, but when I made a hundred-year-old recipe for Squash Bread, I discovered that cooks have been hiding vegetables for a long time.

The Squash Bread had a rustic artesian look, a nice texture, and a sunny yellow tinge – but I couldn’t taste the squash in it. It just tasted like the typical homemade bread.

The verdict: If you want to hide vegetables in bread this recipe is worth a try; otherwise, just stick with your usual bread recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Squash Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups milk

2 packages dry yeast

5-6 cups flour

1 cup pureed winter squash (Butternut squash works well in this recipe.)

1 tablespoon shortening (or lard)

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

Scald milk by heating in a sauce pan until the milk begins to steam and form bubbles; use medium heat and stir occasionally. Remove from heat before it comes to a boil. Let the scalded milk cool until it is lukewarm, then dissolve the yeast in the milk.

Put 2 cups flour, squash, shortening, butter, sugar,  salt, and the water and yeast mixture in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Add enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).

Place in a greased bowl. Cover; let rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about 1 hour). Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead for an additional 5 minutes. Divide dough into two equal parts and shape into loaves. Place in 2 greased loaf pans, 9″ X 5″ X 3″, and cover. Let rise until doubled in size (about 30 minutes).

Bake loaves in 400° F. oven for 35 minutes or until lightly browned.

I always find old-time bread recipes particularly difficult to interpret because modern yeast is so different from what it was a hundred years ago. Back then it was not dried like the yeast that we generally use today. I guessed that 2 packages of dried yeast would be the equivalent of 1/2 cup (1/2 yeast cake) back then. This substitution worked just fine when I made this recipe.

Clover-Leaf Rolls (Sweet Rolls)

Clover-leaf Rolls 6

There’s nothing like fresh-baked rolls to make a meal really special. When I saw a picture of Clover-leaf Rolls in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping, I knew that I had to try making them.

clover leaf rolls 2
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1916)

The picture in the old magazine brought back warm fuzzy memories of making Clover-leaf Rolls with my mother when I was a child. I remembered how much fun it was to roll small balls of bread dough between my fingers and put them into muffin tins — 3 balls in each cup. And, I could remember how much fun they were to eat after they were baked. Clover-leaf Rolls pull apart beautifully and are delectable with a little butter or marmalade.

The recipe did not disappoint. The rolls were easy to make and my kitchen was filled with the lovely aroma of baking bread. And, when I took the rolls out of they oven, they were light and heavenly with a hint of cinnamon.

The original recipe was for Sweet Rolls, and said that it could be formed into a variety of shapes, including Clover-leaf. It called for a compressed yeast cake and 8 cups of flour. I knew I didn’t need that many rolls, so I made 2/3’s of the recipe, and substituted instant yeast for the compressed yeast.

clover leaf rolls 3

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Clover-leaf Rolls

  • Servings: 36 rolls
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 1/3 cups milk

2 packets instant dry yeast

1 1/3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/3 tablespoons shortening or lard

4 tablespoons sugar

3 egg yolks

2/3 teaspoon salt

2/3 teaspoon cinnamon

approximately 5 1/3 cups bread flour

Put milk in saucepan and scald; then cool until lukewarm (110 – 115° F.). Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Then in a large bowl combine the dissolved yeast mixture, butter, shortening, sugar, egg yolks, salt, cinnamon, and 3 cups flour. Add additional flour until the dough is easy to handle.

Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, cover and put in a warm spot. Let rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

Grease muffin pans. Punch down dough, then pinch off pieces of dough and shape into 1-inch balls. Placed 3 balls in each muffin cup, and brush with butter. Let rise until double (about 30 minutes), then place in preheated 375 ° F oven.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Clover-leaf rolls 5

Here’s the original recipe:

Sweet rolls recipe 2 1916 Good Housekeeping
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1916)

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
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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)

Crab Apple Muffins Recipe

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

Monday, August 24 – Thursday, August 27, 1914:  For lack of something to write.

crab apple muffins

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

This is the third of four days that Grandma combined into one entry. Since Grandma didn’t give me much to go on today, I’m going to share an old recipe for Crab Apple Muffins.

A hundred years ago farm family meals in August were generally based on foods which were in season. I wonder whether Grandma’s family had a crab apple tree.

Crab apples are ripe here. A crab apple recipe that I especially enjoy is Crab Apple Muffins. The chopped crab apples give the muffins a wonderful, flavorful, tart zest.

Crab Apple Muffins

2 eggs

2/3 cup butter, melted

2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/4 cups flour

2 cups chopped crab apples *

Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine eggs, melted butter, vanilla, white sugar, and brown sugar in a bowl. Stir in baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add flour, and stir until combined. Add the chopped crab apples. Grease muffin tins, and then fill each muffin cup approximately 2/3 full with batter. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes approximately 24 muffins.

*Core crab apples before chopping, but do not peel.

Old-fashioned Strawberry Muffins (Strawberry Cups) Recipe

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

Saturday, June 20, 1914: Am having quite a time working these days. Hardly take time to eat my dinner.

strawberry muffins

strawberry muffinHer middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma sure has been keeping busy picking strawberries. I hope that she was well paid for her hard work.

What did she have for her rushed dinner? . . . well, she probably was eating seasonal foods, so maybe one food was Strawberry Muffins.

The June, 1914 issue of Good Housekeeping had a recipe for Strawberry Muffins–though back then they were called “Strawberry Cups”.  Here it is—slightly adapted for modern cooking methods and ovens.

Strawberry Muffins (Strawberry Cups)

Preheat oven to 400° F. Separate two eggs; beat the yolks and add one cup of milk, one-half teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of melted butter. Add two teaspoons of baking powder and one and a half cups of flour, and beat well. In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until stiff, then fold the whites into the batter. Put a tablespoon of the batter in each of 12 muffin pan cups. Add a layer of thinly sliced strawberries; then fill the cups two-thirds full of batter, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Best when served warm.

Old-time Waffle Recipe

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

Saturday,  December 6, 1913: The whole family was invited out for dinner today. We all went except Pa. It was up at Tweet’s place. We had something that I always had a curiosity to know what they tasted like. It was waffles.

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

mmm. . . Waffles sound good.

Until I read this I hadn’t realized that waffles were around a hundred years ago. I wonder how they were made back in the days before electric waffle makers.

Here’s an excellent old family recipe for waffles and it may be similar to the recipe that Tweet used.

Waffles

2 cups cake flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, separated

1 1/4  cup milk

6 tablespoons melted butter

Beat egg whites until stiff. In a separate bowl combine cake flour, baking powder, salt, egg yolks, milk, and butter. Add flour gradually, beating only until smooth. Gently fold in beaten egg whites. Bake in a hot waffle iron.

Yield: approximately 4 servings

This recipe old, but it’s not a recipe of Grandma’s. Let me tell you its story:

This recipe was in my mother’s recipe card box. I think that it is the waffle recipe that my maternal grandmother used. (The grandmother I write about in this blog is my paternal grandmother).

We often had waffles when I was a child—but we never used this recipe—instead we used the recipe on the Bisquick box.

A few years ago I compiled my recipes—including recipes of my mother’s  which were in my recipe box but that I’d never made—into a family cookbook. I gave the cookbook to my children and other relatives.

A couple of months ago my adult son said, “Mom, that’s a great waffle recipe in your cookbook.”

And, I responded, “What recipe?” since I’d never made the waffle recipe and had forgotten that I’d put it into the cookbook.

I recently actually made this recipe and it’s wonderful—and it’s even more wonderful that my children are discovering their food heritage.

Tweet was the nickname of Helen Wesner. She was a friend of Grandma’s and lived with her family on a farm at the edge of McEwensville.

12/7/13 Update

My readers are wonderful. I now know what an old-fashioned waffle iron looks like. RuthAnn at Labyrinth Living sent me a picture of an old-fashioned cast iron waffle iron that her great-grandmother used. She gave me permission to share it with you. Here is what she wrote:

waffle.iron.1890

It would have been used on a wood cook stove, but I know Grandma also used it later on her electric stove, just right on the elements.  If you can see on one piece, one end has a round socket and the other piece has a round ball that fits into the socket.  So those two halves fit together and are placed on the stove to heat.  One lifts the handle to open the halves, and puts the batter on the waffle grid, then closes it and holds it for about a minute and then lifts the two handles together and swivels it around (the ball in the socket is the swivel) and puts it down to cook the other side.  When it stops steaming, it should be ready to remove and serve.