Old-fashioned Blackberry Shortcake

Some things just go together – like summer and Berry Shortcake. A few days ago I would have written “like summer and Strawberry Shortcake,” but I’ve discovered a wonderful hundred-year-old recipe for Blackberry Shortcake, so I needed to broaden my analogy.

Slightly crushed, sweetened, juicy blackberries go between and above tender layers of shortcake biscuits. This delightful old-fashioned dessert, with the “new” twist of blackberries is perfect for a hot summer day.

I did not use any whipped cream when I made this dessert since the old recipe did not call for it, and it definitely is not needed. The sweetened juice from the blackberries soaks into the biscuits and creates a delightful flavor and texture; though, if desired, the Blackberry Shortcake could be topped with whipped cream.

Here is a photo of Blackberry Shortcake that appeared in the old magazine:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), Aug./Sept., 1915
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), Aug./Sept., 1915

And, here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), Aug./Sept., 1915
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), Aug./Sept., 1915

If seemed unusual the old recipe called for buttering the split shortcake biscuits before putting the blackberries between the layers, but I gave it a try with several biscuits. The warm biscuits melted the butter, and it really was not very noticeable after the berries were added. I also tried serving this dessert without buttering the biscuits first, and there was very little difference in the taste or appearance.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Blackberry

  • Servings: 7 - 9 biscuits
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 pints (4 1/2-pint boxes) blackberries

1 cup sugar

2 cups pastry flour (If you do not have pastry flour, use 1 cup cake flour + 1 cup all-purpose flour.)

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup shortening

approximately 3/4 – 1 cup milk

butter (optional)

Wash and drain blackberries. Put in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Lightly crush berries with a fork. Set aside. (If desired, put in a saucepan and heat using low heat for 1 – 2 minutes to warm slightly and to increase the juicing of the berries, but do not cook. Remove from heat.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, stir the flour, salt and baking powder together. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture. Add 3/4 cup milk and stir just enough to combine using a fork to form a soft dough. If the dough is dry, add additional milk and stir a little more to create a soft dough.

On a pastry cloth or other prepared surface, roll shortcake dough to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut into rounds 2 1/2 – 3 inches in diameter. (I turned a water glass upside down and used it as the cutter).  Put on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Cook about 15-20 minutes or until the biscuits are lightly browned. Remove from oven and split the biscuits in half. (I used a bread knife to cut them.) If desired, spread the biscuits with butter. Put the berries between and above the biscuits and serve at once.

I used less sugar than called for in the original recipe because 1 1/2 – 2 cups sugar seemed like an excessive amount to put on the blackberries.

Hundred-year-old Chocolate Mint Fudge Recipe

Chocolate and mint combine beautifully to create delectable taste treats – think Girl Scout cookies, and mint chocolate chip ice cream – so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe in a vintage issue of Good Housekeeping for Chocolate Mint Fudge. This lovely fudge has just the right amount of chocolate and mint to create a delightful candy.

The Chocolate Mint Fudge recipe calls for Mint Syrup. Both the Fudge and Mint Syrup recipes were provided in the old magazine.

Here are the original recipes:

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)
Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

Here are the recipes updated for modern cooks:

Chocolate Mint Fudge

  • Servings: 25-30 pieces
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Chocolate Mint Fudge

4 tablespoons cocoa

1 1/2 cups milk

1 tablespoon butter, melted

4 cups light brown sugar

1/2 cup mint syrup (see recipe below)

Put cocoa in a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the milk and stir until smooth. Set aside.

Put butter, brown sugar, the remaining milk, and mint syrup in a mixing bowl stir to combine. Put in a saucepan and using medium heat bring to a boil. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Reduce and gently boil until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (238° F.). Put saucepan in cold water, and beat the fudge mixture until it thickens. Put into a 8 inch X 8 inch buttered pan. (If desired, line with parchment paper to make it easier to remove fudge). When cool, cut into pieces and remove from pan.

Mint Syrup

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup mint leaves

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; then add the mint leaves. Bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid begins to thicken to a syrup consistency (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat; strain and cool.

Cook’s note: This recipe makes more Mint Syrup than is needed for the Mint Chocolate Fudge. Extra syrup can be used in coffee or tea, or in other recipes.

Old-fashioned Banana Sour Ice Cream

Looking for a tasty and easy-to-make ice cream for your 4th of July bash? Banana Sour Ice Cream fits the bill. I found this delightful recipe in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.

Banana Sour Ice Cream is refreshingly tart, and almost reminds me of a sherbet. The recipe calls for both bananas and lemon juice, and the ice cream contains the nuanced flavors of both fruits. It also contains sour cream which enhances the tartness.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (July, 1917)

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

Banana Sour Ice Cream

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 cup sugar

juice of 2 lemons

1 1/4 cups sour cream

3 bananas

Put sugar and lemon juice in a mixing bowl; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in sour cream. Set aside.

Peel bananas, then mash until smooth. (A food processor or blender can be used to get a smooth puree.)

Add the mashed bananas to the sugar, lemon juice, and sour cream mixture; beat until smooth. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours, then place in ice cream maker and freeze. (I used a 2-quart ice cream maker.)

Hundred-Year-Old Recipe for “Mother’s” Salad Dressing

Old cookbooks often contain recipes with names that memorialize someone, but provide almost no clue about the food. For example, I’ve seen recipes for Grandma’s Cake and Mrs. Johnson’s Dessert. I usually shy away from these recipes because of the unhelpful title – but I recently made an exception. I decided to give “Mother’s” Salad Dressing a try, and I’m glad I did This tangy, creamy, old-fashioned milk, vinegar, and egg dressing was delightful.

Source; Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Mother's Salad Dressing

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 hard-cooked eggs

1/2 of a 5-ounce can of evaporated milk

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

lettuce or cabbage

Cut hard-boiled eggs in half and remove yolks; mash yolks with a fork until fine. Set aside.

Put evaporated milk in a small bowl; slowly add vinegar while stirring. Add mashed egg yolks, sugar, salt, and pepper; stir until combined.

Serve with lettuce or cabbage. If desired garnish with pieces or rings of the egg whites.

I only used half as much salt as called for in the old recipe. One teaspoon seemed like it would make the dressing too salty.

Mocha Layer Cake (Sour Cream Cake with Mocha Filling)

The early 1900’s were the heyday of decadent layer cakes with wonderful fillings, so when I recently needed to make a birthday cake, I immediately knew that I wanted to make a hundred-year-old cake recipe. Then I had the hard (but fun) job of deciding which old recipe to make. Should I make a white cake with a rich caramel filling?  . . .or a chocolate cake with a whipped cream filling?  . . .  or a white cake with a chocolate filling?  . . . or a cake with a fruit filling? , . . or . . . ?

I finally selected a delightful recipe for Mocha Layer Cake. This really is a recipe for a Sour Cream Cake with a delightful Mocha Filling; and, as I interpreted it, a White Frosting to top everything off.

The Sour Cream Cake not as airy as many modern cakes, but it had a wonderful flavor and consistency, and was tender and rich. The hints of coffee and chocolate in the Mocha Filling were nuanced and mild  in the assembled cake.

Here’s the original recipes:

Source: Tried and True Cook Book Published by the The Willing Workers, The Minneapolis [MN] Incarnation Parish (1910)
Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

And, here are the recipes updated for modern cooks:

Mocha Layer Cake (Sour Cream Cake with Mocha Filling

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

Sour Cream Cake

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans; line with waxed paper or parchment paper, then grease again and lightly flour. Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl; beat until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the cake pans, dividing evenly between the two pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled.

Mocha Filling

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 tablespoons strong coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon melted butter

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.; beat until smooth.

White Frosting

3 cups confectioners sugar

2 teaspoons melted butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2+ tablespoons cream

Combine all ingredients; Beat until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency. Slowly add more cream if too thick. (I used a total of about 4 tablespoons of cream.)

To assemble cake:

Put one cake layer upside down (so that the top surface is flat) on serving plate; spread with the Mocha Filling. Top with the second cake layer, right side up. Ice cake with white frosting.

Southern Golden Fleece (Cream Cheese and Eggs) Recipe

Scrambled eggs are always good, but sometimes when I make them for the fourth time in less than a month, they begin to seem boring – so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe with a “new” twist and an intriguing name to boot.  Southern Golden Fleece is made with cream cheese and eggs, and is silky and rich.

It surprised me that Southern Golden Fleece is made using just one dish, and cooked in the oven.  Apparently the recipe author did not want to end up with a stack of dirty dishes.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Southern Golden Fleece (Cream Cheese and Eggs)

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup whipping cream

5 eggs

salt and cayenne (red) pepper

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put cream cheese and cream in a large casserole dish. (A 2-quart dish works well and leaves lots of space for stirring and beating).  Place in oven for about 5 minutes or until the cream cheese is soft; remove from oven and blend using a fork.  Break the eggs on top of the cheese mixture, and stir until combined. Sprinkle with salt and cayenne pepper. Put lid on dish and return to the oven. Bake until the egg whites begin to set (5-8 minutes); then beat for 2 minutes. Cover and return to oven and cook until the eggs are set (3-5 additional minutes). Remove from oven, and put in serving dish. Serve immediately.

Creamed Radishes

I have a plethora of radishes – most slightly past their prime. The recent hot weather has made them grow quickly, and they are rapidly becoming large and bitter. So when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Creamed Radishes that began with the following sentence, “For this radishes which are a little larger than those desired to eat may be used,” I knew that it was a recipe that I had to try.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Creamed Radishes turned out. They were soft and easy to cut when my fork, and the cream sauce nicely balanced the cooked radishes’ mild tangy zing.

That said, I was surprised and disappointed that radishes lose their lovely red color when boiled. The cooked radishes were pale pink – and a few were so faded that they were almost beige.

I’ve already made this recipe twice, so Creamed Radishes definitely are a vegetable that my husband and l enjoy. Perhaps the reason this dish is not popular is because of its homely color, but if you can get past the color, it is definitely worth a try.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1918)

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

Creamed Radishes

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 bunches of radishes (about 2 cup after the  leaves and roots are cut off)

water

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup milk

Wash the radishes and cut off the leaves and root, but do not pare off the red skin. Put radishes in a saucepan and cover with water. Add salt and bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 25 minutes), then drain.

In the meantime, in another pan, using medium heat, melt butter; then stir in the flour. Gradually, add the milk while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the white sauce thickens. Gently stir in the cooked radishes. Remove from heat and serve.