Food was a major expense for many families a hundred years ago, and cooks tried to minimize food waste. Bread – often homemade – sometimes went stale before it was eaten, and rather than just throwing the stale bread out, they looked for ways to use it.
I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Bread Griddlecakes that called for using stale bread crumbs (and relatively little flour), and I just had to give it a try. The Bread Griddlecakes turned out well. This recipe made relatively thin pancakes that had a nice flavor. If I hadn’t made them myself, I never would have guessed that they contained breadcrumbs. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised since bread is made out of flour – so at some basic level this recipe contains similar ingredients to may typical recipes.
Here’s the original recipe:
Modern bread (at least store-bought bread) doesn’t seem to go stale, so I just used bread that wasn’t stale when I made this recipe.
I’m not sure why the old recipe called for scalded milk, so I used milk that I didn’t scald. It worked fine.
It’s fascinating how words change across the years. The original recipe title had a hyphen between “griddle” and “cake.” Today “griddlecake” is generally written as one word – or people just call them pancakes.
Food preferences change across the years. Some foods increase in popularity over time, while other foods that were once common are now seldom made. As I work on this blog, I often think about food fads and trends over the past hundred years. Occasionally 1921 cookbooks and magazines provide a window into even earlier times. For example, in 1921 a reader of American Cookery asked for a recipe that she remembered from her childhood.
Gingered Rhubarb apparently was a food that was eaten in the late 1800’s in Scotland, but by 1921 it apparently was not part of the repertoire of cooks on the U.S. side of the Atlantic. Why had it become less popular? Was it already considered an old-fashioned dessert a hundred-years ago?
The query also contains a serving suggestion. The individual requesting the recipes states that she remembers eating Gingered Rhubarb on rice desserts (which I took to mean rice pudding).
In any case, I was intrigued and decided to make Gingered Rhubarb. I also made Rice Pudding to serve with the Gingered Rhubarb. The recipe I found was for a Baked Rice Pudding (rather than the type of Rice Pudding that is made in a saucepan on top of the stove).
The verdict: Gingered Rhubarb is a tart sauce embedded with sweetened chunks of rhubarb. It goes nicely with Baked Rice Pudding (which is drier and less sticky than many modern Rice Puddings). That said, you need to enjoy rhubarb and its intense flavor to like this recipe. My husband and I both liked the Gingered Rhubarb with Baked Rice Pudding. However, our daughter did not think it was edible. My conclusion- this recipe features rhubarb with its unique tart taste. If you really like that taste, you’ll enjoy this recipe. However, if you are lukewarm to rhubarb, this recipe is not for you.
Here are the original recipe for Gingered Rhubarb:
I put the rhubarb mixture in a large glass casserole bowl and let it sit overnight on my kitchen counter. The next day, I put the mixture in a stainless steel pan and cooked. it I used ground ginger when making the recipe.
I was pleased with how well the rhubarb pieces retained their shape when I cooked the Gingered Rhubarb. I think that allowing the rhubarb and sugar mixture sit overnight before cooking may have helped the pieces retain their shape. The sugar drew liquid out of the rhubarb.
The 1 1/2 hour cooking time seemed long to me, but I think that it allowed the flavors to concentrate as some of the liquid boils off. The rhubarb turned brownish as it is cooked (similarly to how apples turn brownish when cooked for a long time to make apple butter).
This is a very large recipe. When I made the recipe, I halved it.
Here is the original recipe for Baked (Plain) Rice Pudding:
Cooks many years ago would have made both the Gingered Rhubarb and the Baked Rice Pudding using a wood or coal stove. Both of these recipes have a long cook time – but that probably wasn’t considered an issue when the stoves operated constantly, and foods could be cooked for several hours with little attention from the cook.
Here’s the recipes for Gingered Rhubarb updated for modern cooks:
3 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1/2 pieces (about 6 cups of pieces) -Do not peel.
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
In a crock or large glass casserole bowl combine the sugar and ground ginger. Add the rhubarb pieces and stir to coat the rhubarb with the sugar mixture. Cover, and let sit overnight at room temperature.
The next morning put the rhubarb mixture in a stainless steel pan and bring to a boil using medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Gently stir several times while it is cooking.
Remove from heat. May be serve hot or cold. If desired serve with rice pudding, ice cream, or other dessert.
Preheat oven to 325° F. Wash the rice, and combine with all the other ingredients. Pour into a 2-quart buttered baking dish. Place in oven and bake for a total of three hours.
During the first hour, stir three times. Then reduce heat to 3oo° F. and continue baking. After another hour, stir again. Continue baking for an additional hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If desired, when the rice pudding is set, the Rice Pudding can be put under the broiler for a short time to lightly brown the top. May be served hot or cold. Refrigerate, if not served immediately.
Hundred-year-old cookbooks sometimes contain very basic recipes, such as a recipe for stewed prunes. I’m a little surprised when an author puts such a simple recipe in a cookbook – though I also find it fascinating how basic foods have changed over the past hundred years. Back then (and even when I was young) prunes were very dry and needed extensive soaking and cooking to make tender stewed prunes; whereas today many supermarket prunes are very moist when taken out of the package and need to be stewed for only a few minutes.
Here’s the original recipe:
One-half pound of prunes is about 1 cup of prunes. I’m not clear why the directions refer to 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon for each two cups of prunes. Maybe the author was referring to the volume of prunes after they are soaked. In any case, when I updated the recipe, rather than trying to estimate the volume of the prunes, I assumed that the recipe calls for adding 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon (if desired).
1 cup water (more may be needed if the prunes are very dry.)
1/4 cup sugar, if desired
1 tablespoon lemon juice, if desired
Put prunes and water in a saucepan. If desired, stir in the sugar. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat until it simmers. Cook until the prunes are tender and the liquid is syrupy (about 15 minutes – if the prunes are moist; longer if they are very dry). Remove from heat, and, if desired stir in the lemon juice.
Coffee cake is a wonderful sweet treat to have with coffee (or without), so I was pleased to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Coffee Cake. The cake turned out well. It was moist and tender with a nice cinnamon and sugar topping.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Put all of the cake ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat to combine. Put batter in a greased and floured 9-inch square cake pan.
In a separate bowl, place the flour cinnamon, and sugar. Stir to combine. Add the shortening, and mix together until the texture is crumbly. It may helpful to use your hands to get the shortening mixed in. (When I made the recipe I added more flour and sugar than called for in the original recipe, to make it more crumbly).
Spread the topping mixture over the top of the cake. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a wooden pick comes out clean.
Warm weather is finally here, and I’m ready to sit on the porch with tea and a snack. So when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Nut Squares that said, “Very nice for afternoon tea,” I knew that I needed to try the recipe.
The Nut Squares were tasty and chock-full of nuts with a crispy crust and a chewy middle. The one downside is that the crust had a tendency to crack and break when I cut the cookies into bars.
Here’s the original recipe:
I was surprised that the recipe did not call for any butter or shortening – though the cookies still had a nice texture. Perhaps the top crust may have had less tendency to break and crumble off the bars if the recipe had inclued butter or shortening.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Put eggs in mixing bowl and beat. Add sugar, flour, and baking powder; beat until smooth. Pour mixture into a greased 9 X 13 inch baking pan. Bake until set and the top is light brown (about 25 – 30 minutes). Remove from oven. When partially cool cut into squares or 1 X 2 inch bars.
When I make scrambled eggs I typically break the eggs into a bowl, add a little milk, salt, and pepper, and then beat the eggs until they are smooth and frothy, but I was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Scrambled Eggs, Country Style, and decided to give it a try. The recipe was extremely easy, and similar to how I make scrambled eggs when camping.
I broke the eggs directly into the skillet and let the egg whites begin to turn white; then I broke the yolks and began mixing the eggs while they cooked. This resulted in bigger chunks of the egg white in the scrambled eggs – but they were tasty.
Using medium heat, melt butter in skillet. Break the eggs into the skillet, and cook until the eggs are partially set with the egg whites beginning to coagulate; then break the yolks and stir and fold the eggs until they are completely cooked. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to season.
When I think of Cheese Puffs, I think of a cheesy snack that’s in the snack aisle at the supermarket, so I was surprised to see a hundred-year-old recipe for cheese puffs. These Cheese Puffs are a delightful cheesy tidbit that can be eaten as a snack or a part of a meal.
The old recipe recommends serving the Cheese Puffs with a salad, which is what I did. Cheese Puffs and a salad are just right for a light lunch.
1/4 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar cheese.) + additional grated cheese to garnish
Preheat oven to 400° F. Put butter and water in a large sauce pan; bring to a boil. Stir in salt, pepper, and flour. Remove from heat, and add 1/4 cup grated cheese and egg; stir until thoroughly mixed.
Place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with addiitonal grated cheese. Put in oven and bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned. If desired, serve with a salad.