Let us eat cake
By JEAN TELLER
Marie Antoinette, the French queen during the Revolution, may not have actually uttered the words, but the phrase has gone down in history as a famous saying from a royal personage. “Let them eat cake!” was actually “Let them eat brioche!” Brioche, a French pastry, is extremely enriched bread with more egg and butter content than you might have thought possible. But we stray from our cake quest.
The concept of cake dates to ancient Egyptians who advanced baking skills to an art. Those early cakes were sweetened with honey and included nuts and/or dried fruits. “Cake” is derived from an Old Norse word “kaka” and can be traced back to the 13th century.
What we recognize as cake today started in the mid-17th century when European bakers took advantage of new technologies-ovens, food molds, etc.- and refined ingredients such as granulated sugar. Most bakers probably used a metal or wooden hoop placed on a flat baking sheet as the mold for a cake.
It took until the mid-19th century for cakes to look like our cakes. Refined ingredients again dictated the change: refined white flour and baking powder instead of yeast. An 1894 cookbook, The Cassell’s New Universal Cookery Book, included a layer cake recipe.
While it seems strange to us, chocolate wasn’t originally included in a cake’s ingredient list. It was, at first, a drink that accompanied a piece of cake; then it became part of the icing on the cake. Finally in the 19th century, chocolate became a full-fledged cake ingredient, at least in some instances. It wasn’t until the 20th century that chocolate became a widespread popular cake ingredient. Can you imagine it taking so long for chocolate cake to become the norm?
If you have a minute, send along your favorite cake recipes, and we’ll print a few in a future issue of the magazine. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Cake” included in the subject line.
Whatever your favorite cake may be, savor every bite.
Let us eat cake!
Roland Altenburg, Midland, Oregon, remembers a sour cream chocolate cake that his aunt used to bake back in the 1950s for the threshing crew. He says it was so rich and moist that she often did not frost it. The ingredients, as he recalls, included fresh cream that had been soured.
Most experts discourage using whole milk that has gone sour; instead, they suggest adding 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup milk. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes before adding it to the batter. Some suggest letting the milk come to room temperature before adding the vinegar.
Dorothy Higbee, Canton, Missouri, sends a recipe that sounds like it may be what Roland is looking for. She says, “I would like to share the following as it was one of my late husband’s grandmother’s recipes. If I don’t have any sour cream, I add vinegar to half-and-half and let it stand for a little while before adding.”
1 cup boiling water
6 tablespoons cocoa
21/2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup sour milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans; set aside.
In saucepan, pour boiling water over cocoa; cook until thick. Let cool.
Sift flour, then measure. Add baking soda to sifted flour and sift together. Cream butter and sugar, then beat in egg yolks.
To creamed mixture, alternate dry ingredients with sour milk and vanilla. Add cocoa paste.
Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake for about 20 minutes.
Note: Making a frosting for the cake will use up those egg whites.
Guila Vinkenberg, Hebron, Nebraska, sends her recipe, saying, “I made this cake a couple of times a week when we were shucking corn by hand back in the 1940s and ’50s. I did chores mornings and evenings, fixed the noon meal, baked bread, cleaned chickens or ducks, and then helped shuck in the afternoon.
“Several unemployed boys helped us. We had 200 acres of corn. I also kept the school teacher as the school was close to our farm. I am now 87 years young.”
Thank you, Guila, for sharing those memories with us.
Sour cream chocolate cake
11/4 cups sugar
3 teaspoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in
4 teaspoons hot water
4 teaspoons cocoa
11/2 cups sour cream
11/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 9-by-12-inch baking pan; set aside.
In bowl, combine sugar, eggs, butter and salt; beat for 3 minutes. Add dissolved baking soda and cocoa, and beat for an additional 2 minutes, until well-blended.
Add sour cream, then flour and vanilla; beat until well-blended.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
A lost stew recipe
Becky Woods, Ballwin, Missouri, is looking for a recipe from Grit or CAPPER’s from about 25 years ago for sausage and white bean stew made with white cannellini beans and chopped green peppers.
We found a recipe from our archives for a stew with no green pepper. And Betty Mink, South Whitley, Indiana, sent a recipe to which green pepper could be added.
Sausage, tomato, and white bean stew
Yields 4 servings.
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini, navy or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (141/2 ounces) tomatoes, flavored with basil, garlic and oregano, drained
In stockpot over medium heat, crumble sausage and cook until no longer pink. If necessary, drain all but 1 tablespoon fat.
Add onion and cook until softened.
Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Sausage and white bean soup
2 pounds sausage, mild or hot
4 to 5 medium potatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jar (13/4 pounds) white cannellini beans
Celery, carrots or green peppers, cut into pieces, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 can (141/2 ounces) vegetable broth
In saucepan, brown sausage until done.
Add potatoes and onion to pan. Add beans and optional vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in broth.
Simmer until vegetables are tender.
That’s not maple syrup?
Charles Gettys, Wichita Falls, Texas, remembers the tale of his grandfather traveling from Pennsylvania to Texas in 1913. He made an overnight stop in Kansas City, and for breakfast the next day, he was served pancakes. When told it was corncob syrup, Charles’ grandfather replied that it was definitely maple syrup, and you couldn’t fool him. While his grandfather continued to believe it was maple syrup, Charles would like a recipe for corncob syrup.
He came to the right place. Our readers came through with several different types of recipes. The recipe from Judith Nees, Waco, Texas, is similar to several others we
received. She says the recipe was handed down from her grandmother.
12 large clean corncobs
Water to cover
2 pounds brown sugar
In large stockpot, cover corncobs with water; boil for 1 to 2 hours. Drain off water and strain (there should be at least 1 pint of liquid).
Return liquid to stockpot; add brown sugar and boil to desired thickness.
Note: Some of the recipes added a bit of maple flavoring to the mix.
Yogurt for dessert
Aileen Sager, Montezuma, Iowa, hopes someone will share a Yogurt Pie recipe similar to the recipe her sister gave her. It included plain yogurt and flavored gelatin.
Betty Schmidtlein, Richmond, California, sends this version, which would work well with a suggestion from several readers: Use flavored yogurt and the same flavor gelatin.
Easy yogurt pie
Yields 6 servings.
1 cup boiling water
2 boxes (each of the 4-serving size) flavored gelatin
4 cups plain yogurt
Honey or sugar, to taste, optional
Baked pie shell
Add boiling water to gelatin; dissolve. Stir in yogurt and honey, if desired. Cool until mixture starts to thicken slightly.
Pour mixture into baked crust, large dish or individual serving bowls; chill until set.
Excerpted from Grit, Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. To read more articles from Grit, please visit www.grit.com, or call 866-803-7096. Copyright 2020 by Ogden Publications Inc.
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