One Egg Chocolate Cake

piece of cake on plate

I’m always intrigued by old cake recipes that have titles which emphasize the use, or non-use, of a specific ingredient. For example, I recently came across a recipe for One Egg Chocolate Cake. Why was the number of eggs stated in the title? Were eggs really expensive back then? . . . or maybe the recipe was aimed at families that raised chickens, and the chickens didn’t lay many eggs during the winter so cooks were looking for recipes that used few eggs. . . or. . . ?

This recipe made a  9-inch square cake, and was very tasty. I never missed any reduction in eggs.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for One Egg Chocolate Cake
Source: Cement City Cook Book (1922) Compiled by First Baptist Church, Alphena, Michigan

I followed the recipe directions and grated the chocolate, then melted it by adding a little hot water and stirring. I was surprised how well this process melted the chocolate  – though think that the baking chocolate probably could be melted in the microwave to avoid the extra effort of grating the chocolate.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

One Egg Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: 10 - 12
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup  butter, softened

1/2 cup grated baking chocolate (about ounces of chocolate)

2 tablespoons hot water

approximately 3/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice (I used vinegar.)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Put the grated baking chocolate  in a measuring cup, then add hot water and stir until the chocolate is melted. Stir in vinegar and enough milk to make 1 cup.  Set aside for at least 2 minutes.

Put sugar and egg yolk in a mixing bowl, stir to combine. Add butter, milk and chocolate mixture, baking soda, vanilla, and flour; beat until smooth. Put in a greased and floured 9-inch square pan. Bake until a wooden pick comes out clean (approximately 35 minutes). Frost if desired

Old-fashioned Potato and Egg Salad

Potaot and Egg Salad in bowl

Memorial Day doesn’t seem complete without Potato Salad – and the best Potato Salads contain hard-boiled eggs, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Potato and Egg Salad.

The Potato and Egg Salad was delightful with crunchy celery and chopped pickles – but what made the salad really special was the dressing. The dressing was made with whipped cream and vinegar – and was amazingly light compared to the usual mayonnaise dressing. The whipped cream dressing takes a little longer to make than mayonnainse dressing, but it was well worth the extra effort

Here’s the original recipe:

Potato and Egg Salad
Source: For Luncheon and Supper Guests (1922)  by Alice Bradley

I didn’t have any onion juice, so substituted 1 tablespoon chopped onions.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Potato and Egg Salad

  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups cold boiled potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 cup celery or cabbage, chopped (I used celery.)

2 or 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (I used 2 large hard-boiled eggs.)

2 tablespoons pickle, chopped (I chopped several Bread and Butter Pickle slices.)

2 tablespoons green pepper or pimento, chopped (I used green pepper.)

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon onions, chopped

cream dressing, see below

If desired, lettuce or cabbage leaves

Put the cubed potatoes, celery or cabbage, chopped eggs, chopped pickle,, green pepper or pimento, parsley, and onions  in a mixing bowl and gently stir to combine. Chill in refrigerator. Just before serving, add Cream Dressing and gently stir until the potatoes and other ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing.  If desired, serve on lettuce or cabbage leaves.

Cream Dressing

2 teaspoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons powdered sugar

dash cayenne (red) pepper

1 teaspoon butter

1/3 cup vinegar

1 egg yolk, beaten

1/2 cup whipping cream

Put the flour, salt, mustard, powdered sugar, cayenne pepper, and butter n a saucepan or double boiler, and gradually add vinegar while stirring constantly.  Using medium heat, cook until thickens while stirring constantly. Put a a spoonful of the hot mixture in the bowl with the egg yolk, and immediately stir rapidly; then add the mixture to the mixture in the saucepan or double boiler while stirring rapidly. Continue stirring and cook for 1 minute. The mixture will be very stiff. Put in a small bowl and cool in refrigerator.

Shortly before serving, whip the cream until it is stiff. Add the cooled vinegar mixture, and beat until smooth.

Old-fashioned Sponge Pudding

Sponge Pudding

Occasionally, an old recipe surprises me. A hundred-year-old recipe for Sponge Pudding called for putting the pudding mixture in a casserole dish, sitting it in a pan of hot water, and then baking in the oven, I thought that the Sponge Pudding would be a baked custard-style pudding, or maybe similar to the filling of a sponge pie, and decided to give it a try.

The recipe only had five ingredients – sugar, flour milk, eggs, and butter. Most of the ingredients are first cooked on top of the stove, and then stiffly-beaten egg whites are folded in. The mixture is then put in the casserole dish and baked.

A few minutes after I put the Sponge Pudding in the oven, I took a peek and was shocked to discover that the baking mixture had risen several inches above the top edge of the casserole dish – and that I actually was making a souffle-type dessert rather then a custard. I turned the oven light on, and nervously watched the baking  Sponge Pudding, fearful it would expand so much that it would spill over and go all over the oven. But, fortunately that didn’t happen, and I soon had a lovely very high lightly-browned dessert.

The Sponge Pudding was delightful – though not even close to what I had been expecting.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Sponge Pudding
Source: Cement City Cook Book (1922) compiled by the First Baptist Church, Alpena, Michigan

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sponge Pudding

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

2 cups milk + approximately 1/4 cup milk

4 eggs, separated

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/3 cup butter

Preheat oven to 425° F.  Beat egg whites until stiff; set. aside.

Then in a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until smooth; set aside.

Mix sugar and flour in a small bowl. Gradually stir in the 1/4 cup milk; continue stirring until the mixture is smooth.  Set aside.

Put the 2 cups milk in a sauce pan, bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring constantly. Put a small amount of the hot milk into the flour and sugar mixture and stir until smooth. Repeat several times until the flour and sugar mixture is fairly thin. Then stir into the boiling milk; continue stirring until the mixture thickens and is smooth.  Remove from heat.

Put a small amount of the hot mixture into the bowl with the beaten egg yolks, and immediately stir. Then stir the egg yolk mixture and the butter into the hot thickened milk mixture. Fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture., and then pour into a 2- or 2 1/2-quart casserole dish. Put the dish in a pan of hot water and put in the oven. Bake until the pudding rises and is light brown (about 30 – 40 minutes). Remove from oven and serve.

Concordia Pineapple Salad

Concordia Pineapple Salad

Concordia Pineapple Salad is a lovely old-fashioned individually-served salad that makes a nice presentation. A slice of canned pineapple is put on a bed of lettuce. The center of the pineapple is filled with a mixture of diced cucumber and mayonnaise. The mounded cucumber mixture is then garnished with crossed pieces of green pepper or pimento. The pineapple and cucumber combination is unusual, but surprisingly tasty.

I came across this recipe in a 1922 cookbook. A hundred-years-ago, an attractive presentation was an important aspect of many salads. And, they were often served on individual salad plates on a bed of lettuce.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Concordia Pineapple Salad
Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Concordia Pineapple Salad

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup diced cucumber (peeled and diced into 1/4 inch pieces)

1/4 cup mayonnaise

8 slices of canned pineapple

16 canned pimento strips  or narrow green pepper strips (each approximately 1 1/2 inches long) (I used green pepper strips.)


additional mayonnaise, if desired

Put the diced cucumber and 1/4 cup mayonnaise in a bowl, gently stir to coat the cucumber pieces with the mayonnaise. Set aside.

To assemble salad: Each serving should be put on a separate plate. Arrange a serving of lettuce on plate, then lay a slice of pineapple on top of the lettuce. Fill the cavity in the center of each pineapple slice with a spoonful of the diced cucumber and mayonnaise mixture. Cross two strips of pimento or green pepper on top of the mounded cucumber and mayonnaise mixture.  If desired, may be served with additional mayonnaise.

Old-fashioned Raised Doughnuts

Doughnuts on plate

When I was a child growing up in Pennsylvania, Fasnacht Day (the day before Ash Wednesday) was always a day when we ate doughnuts. Fasnacht Day was supposed to be a day to eat indulgent foods before the beginning of Lent – and doughnuts with their sugar and fat were considered the ultimate in indulgent foods. It is also known as Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday.

Some churches in Pennsylvania made doughnuts on Fasnacht Day as a fundraiser, and students at my school who attended those churches took orders for the doughnuts, and then brought the them to school on Fasnacht Day.  I always looked forward to buying (and eating) those incredible doughnuts.

Now, every year as Lent approaches, I remember those sweet, flavorful, light, yet slightly chewy, doughnuts of my childhood (they are nothing like modern cake-like doughnuts), and think that I should try making doughnuts, but I never actually did  – until this year. I came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Raised Doughnuts and decided it was time to give doughnut-making a try.

It took me about six hours from start to finish to make the doughnuts since I had to let the dough rise three times – but it was worth it. The doughnuts were just like I’d remembered (and my husband kept saying, “These are a lot better than store-bought doughnuts”).

Recipe for Raised Doughnuts
Source: Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

And, here’s the coffee cake foundation recipe:

Recipe for Coffee Cake
Source: Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Raised Doughnuts

  • Servings: approximately 20 doughnuts
  • Difficulty: difficult
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1 cup milk

1 packet (0.25 ounce) active dry yeast

1/4 cup lukewarm (110 – 115° F.) water

1 1/2 cups flour + approximately 3 cups flour

1/4 cup butter melted + a small amount of additonal melted butter to brush on top of dough

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

fat or cooking oil (I used shortening.)

powdered sugar

Put the milk in a saucepan, and scald (180-185° F.) using medium heat. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm (110-115° F.). In the meantime, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.

Put the 1 1/2 cups flour, lukewarm scalded milk, and dissolved yeast in a mixing bowl, and beat until smooth. Cover and put in a warm spot until the mixture is light and spongy (about 1 hour). Add the melted butter, sugar, egg, almond extract and salt. Gradually add approximately 3 cups flour until the dough reaches a consistency where it can be handled.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Put in a large greased bowl, brush top with melted butter, cover and place in a warm spot until the dough is about 2 1/2 times its original  size (about 2 hours).

Put dough on a lightly floured surface and roll dough to 1/4 inch thick, and cut doughnuts with a doughnut cutter. (If thicker doughnuts are desired, don’t roll quite so thin.) Put the cut doughnuts on a baking sheet, and let rise until light and doubled in size (about 45 minutes).

Heat  3 – 4 inches of fat or cooking oil in a deep fat fryer or kettle to 350 – 375° F. Drop doughnuts (a few at a time) into the hot fat or oil. Turn as they rise to the surface. Gently turn and fry 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from fat and drain on paper towels.

Put powdered sugar in a bag. (I used a brown paper lunch bag.) While the doughnuts are still warm, put one doughnut at a time in the bag and gently shake to coat with the sugar.

Old-fashioned Grated Cheese Canapes

grated cheese canapes on plate

Canapes made using bread as the base were a popular appetizer a hundred years ago. I was intrigued by a recipe for Grated Cheese Canapes in a 1922 cookbook. Rounds of thin-sliced bread were spread with mustard then topped with grated cheese and chopped olives. The tangy mustard combined nicely with the slight saltiness of the cheese and olives to make a lovely  hors d’oeuvre.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Grate Cheese Canapes
Source: Mrs. De Graf’s Cook Book (1922)

A hundred years ago did  the term “French mustard” refer to a yellow mustard or a dijon-style mustard? I googled it discovered that French’s Mustard was introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair – but that is a brand and not exactly a type of mustard. In the end, I decided to use a dijon-style mustard, but am not sure that was commonly available in the United States in 1922.

Here’s the updated recipe for modern cooks:

Grated Cheese Canapes

  • Servings: 12 canapes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 slices of thinly sliced bread (assumes 2 rounds per slice) (I used white bread.)

approximately 2 tablespoons French mustard (I used a Dijon mustard.)

approximately 3/4 cup finely grated cheese (I used cheddar cheese.)

approximately 1/2 cup stuffed olives, finely chopped


Cut the bread into rounds that are 2 – 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Thinly spread French mustard on the rounds. Top with grated cheese and chopped olives; sprinkle with paprika.

Old-fashioned Trilbies (Date-Filled Cookies)

Trilbies (Date-filled Cookies) on baking sheet

My holiday cookie baking has begun. Today I made a hundred-year-old recipe for Trilbies. They are a lovely date-filled cookie that brings back warm memories of day gone by.

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe of Trilbies Cookies
Source: Ladies’ Union Cook Book compiled by the Ladies of the West Concord Union Church, Concord Junction, Massachusetts (1921}

A hundred years ago recipes sometimes called for sour milk. Back then much milk was not pasteurized and it soured after a few days. This sour milk was sometimes used in recipes. Today milk can be soured by adding a little vinegar to it.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Trilbies (Data-Filled Cookies)

  • Servings: Approximately 40 Cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


1/2 cup sour milk (Make milk sour by adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar to the milk)

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups flour

2 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned oatmeal)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400° F. Put the milk in a cup or small bowl. Stir in the vinegar to sour the milk. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Stir in the sour milk, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla. Then add the flour and rolled oats; stir until combined. On well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter or small glass. (The cookie cutter I used was 2 inches in diameter.)  Place half the circles on greased baking sheets.  Place a heaping teaspoon of date filling (see recipe below) on each circle and spread to the edges of the cookies; put a second cookie on top of each date-filling topped cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.


1 pound chopped dates

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup water

Put the chopped dates, sugar, and water into a saucepan and stir to mix; put on medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently until the dates are soft and the filling a nice consistency for the cookie filling (5-10 minutes). Cool slightly before using as a filling.