A few months ago a friend Aaryne sent me a little booklet she ran across somewhere in her travels. It made her think of me, she said, which shows she knows me pretty well. It’s called Successful Baking for Flavor and Texture. The name alone is a giveaway that it wasn’t written recently. It was published in 1936 by the company that made Arm & Hammer baking soda.
I’ve marked out several recipes to try and today I decided to make the Applesauce Cake. I’m still working my way through bushels of apples so I’m always looking for ways to use my apple abundance.
While I was making the cake, I went to the pantry for raisins and realized I was completely out of them. However, I did find 3 bags of dates, so I probably should have made the fruit cupcakes (that called for dates) on the facing page. Another day. I was also short on walnuts but I thought the cake was just fine with the ½ cup I used. It would have been a much more rich, heavy cake with the extra nuts and the raisins.
I frosted it with a simple icing of 3 T. honey and 4 oz. cream cheese with a little splash of vanilla. I thought it was delicious for a 95 year old cake (recipe)! (And now I’ve joined the masses of women who have baked “for flavor and texture!”)
Sift, then measure the flour. Sift three times with the baking soda, salt, and spices. (I sifted once, just for that authentic flair.)
Cream the butter well. Gradually add sugar, beating after each addition.
Add the egg, beating well, then the raisins and nuts.
Alternately add the dry ingredients and applesauce, beating until smooth after each addition. Turn into a greased loaf pan or 9x9 pan. Bake at 350 until done.
Old cookbooks are just packed with pie recipes! I found this particular recipe in my old Searchlight, a Depression-era cookbook. I’ll be working my way through all the interesting recipes for the rest of my life.
Mastering the pie crust skill isn’t easy. But once you can turn them out reliably, they’re a quick, cheap dessert. And they make an even better breakfast.
It just so happened that I had some slightly over-cooked (extra thick) homemade blackberry jam in my pantry. But I’ve made this recipe many times with different jams and they’ve all been delicious. I love the sour cream mixed with the fruit.
Beat egg yolks until thick. Add cream, butter, and jam. Combine 1/2 c. sugar, salt and cornstarch. Add to first mixture. Mix thoroughly. Pour into pastry-lined pie pan. Bake in hot oven (425 degrees) about 25 minutes. Cover with meringue made of egg whites and 3 T. sugar. Brown in slow oven (325 degrees) 20 minutes.
I prefer using old cookbooks in my kitchen. One of the reasons is that the recipes use common ingredients, many of which I grow in my garden, just like the cookbooks’ readers would have. Another reason is that the recipes use those common ingredients in creative ways. During World War I, U.S. residents were encouraged to limit their use of wheat, meat, and sugar, and increase their use of fruits and vegetables. A century later, we’re playing the same tune…
Peanut Macaroons is a recipe from a wheatless cookbook published in 1918, 100 years ago. I’ve made it several times and enjoy this variation of a regular peanut butter cookie. They are unmistakably peanutty, but light and crispy.
Normally, peanuts (or nuts in general) aren’t considered a frugal ingredient, but for the housewives in 1918, peanuts would have been a crop most could grow in a home garden, unlike other wheat-free flours. In my case, Wal-mart put all their baking nuts on clearance after Christmas. I paid less than $1 a pound, which is cheaper than most wheat-free flours.
Incidentally, that’s one reason why it’s so hard to label foods as frugal or expensive. A bargain for one person is a luxury for another. Depending on where I’ve lived throughout the U.S., shrimp, pecans, and raspberries have been so abundant that they’ve become staples and taken for granted.
a 1918 recipe, created during WWI as an alternative to wheat-based cookies
Chop or blend the peanuts into finely ground. Beat egg white until stiff, slowly add sugar, salt, peanuts, and vanilla. Drop by tablespoon on a greased pan and bake in a slow oven (300-325 degrees) for about 30 minutes or until brown.