Even though I don’t often think about it, a wide range of commercially-produced foods were available a hundred years ago. Cornflakes was one of those products. According to Wikipedia, William Kellogg invented cornflakes in 1894 to serve to patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. They were first mass-marketed in 1906. And, soon thereafter, people began, not only eating them for breakfast, but also using them in recipes.
I came across a recipe for Cornflake Fancies in a 1921 church cookbook. The recipe is made by folding cornflakes and coconut flakes into beaten egg whites that have been sweetened with sugar, and then placing heaping teaspoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet. They are then baked until lightly browned The Cornflake Fancies were light and airy, and reminded me a little of Coconut Macaroons, but with a slight crunch from the cereal.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Put egg whites in bowl and beat until stiff. Gradually add the sugar and salt, while continuing to beat. Fold in the cornflakes and coconut. Drop heaping teaspoons of the mixture about 1-inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake until set and lightly browned (about 10 – 12 minutes). Remove from oven, and let sit for about two minutes, then remove from the baking sheet with a spatula. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.
Sometimes I crave classic old-fashioned cream pies. I recently came across a lovely recipe for Coconut Pie in a hundred-year-old cookbook. This pie differs from many modern coconut pies because, in addition to the usual milk, egg yolks, and coconut, the recipe calls for grated lemon rind and lemon juice. The lemon adds a lovely sunny note to this rich creamy pie.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I updated the recipe I updated the spelling of coconut. “Cocoanut” is an archaic way of spelling coconut that I sometimes see in old recipes and cookbooks.
Preheat oven to 425° F. Put milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, salt, butter, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Stir in grated lemon rind and coconut. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F.. Bake additional 60 minutes or until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean.
Sometimes simple desserts are the best. I recently found an easy-to-make, hundred-year-old recipe for Coconut and Orange Dessert that fits the bill. It is light and refreshing, and is just right on hot summer days.
Peel oranges, and remove white inner skin. Separate oranges into segments, and remove any seeds. Cut each segment into 1-inch pieces. Place orange pieces in a bowl and gently stir in most of the coconut (reserve about 2 tablespoons). Put orange and coconut mixture in serving bowl. Garnish with reserved coconut.
Cookie season is here, and it’s time to start baking for the holidays. Of course, I just had to try a “new” hundred-year-old recipe.
I selected a recipe for Coconut Cream Cookies that was in a small promotional cookbook published in 1911 for KC Baking Powder.
The cookies are an old-fashioned soft, chewy cookie, with a very delicate creamy coconut taste. Their mild flavor makes them perfect for nibbling while sipping a cup of coffee.
The recipe didn’t call or any butter or shortening–and I was surprised that it was possible to make cookies without it. The cream in the recipe apparently provided adequate fat to create a nice cookie texture—however, the cookies weren’t as flavorful as many modern cookies.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine eggs, sugar, and cream. Add flour, salt, and baking powder; stir to combine. If the mixture is too dry, add water until a soft dough of rolling consistency forms. Stir in the coconut.
Roll out the dough one-fourth inch thick. Sprinkle with coconut, pressing in lightly. Cut into rounds; press a nut meat into the center of each cookie. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8 – 10 minutes, or just until set and the coconut garnish is just beginning to toast.
Note: I used a 2-inch diameter cookie cutter. The coconut in the cookie dough makes this dough a little more difficult to handle than many modern doughs. A spatula can be used to transfer the cut cookies to the baking sheet.
Yield: Approximately 42 cookies
Here is the original recipe.
I had to make some adaptations to the recipe. I guessed that “1 coffee C sugar” was about 3/4 cup of sugar.
When I followed the recipe, the dough was extremely dry. I added additional cream, as well as water, to achieve a dough that could be rolled. Perhaps a hundred years ago, eggs were larger than the typical “large egg” of today. Also, I used all-purpose flour rather than pastry flour–and I didn’t sift it; that might have affected the amount of liquid needed.
I also changed the spelling of coconut from “cocoanut” to “coconut” when I revised the recipe. I never see it spelled with an “a” in modern cookbooks, so I’m guessing that it’s an archaic spelling.