24 May 2009

Cakes Bread and Breakfast Cake

There is something wonderful about old baking books. So many cake books today feature white, yellow, chocolate, spice and that is about the extent of the variations. In older books there are amazing variations on cake flavors. Cakes Bread and Breakfast Cakes is a turn of the century cookbook, written by Olive Cotton in 1900. There are twenty recipes alone for gingerbread! It is a cookbook of a certain era where the cook is provided with a list of ingredients but little else. I suppose the assumption is if you are in the kitchen cooking you have some idea of how to proceed. Those types of recipes might work with Squirrel Pie but when baking it becomes a bit more tricky.

In the introduction there is a list of how to assemble the recipes. Mrs. Cotton suggests that copy her list for the “Order of Work” and fasten it above the mixing-table when you make cakes.


1. Heat the oven.
2. Place the utensils on the table.
3. Measure ingredients.
4. Prepare baking pans.
5. Beat white of egg.
6. Cream the butter.
7. Slowly add the sugar.
8. Add beaten yolk of egg.
9. Add water and flour alternately.
10. Add extract.
11. Fold in white of egg.
12. Add fruit.

Good rules to follow even with the more detailed recipes of today.

Here is one of the recipe for gingerbread. It is annotated in my copy to say that 1/2 this recipe would be sufficient. I say make the whole cake.

Gingerbread (Sour Cream)

2 eggs
1 cup molasses
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
3 1/2 cups flour

Cream the butter, add the sugar, then the well-beaten eggs. Dissolve the soda in a little boiling water, stir in the molasses, and add it to the batter. Then stir in the spices, milk, and flour

As I said, you are expected to know what to do with the info. So tack up your "Order of Work" list and start baking.

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