There’s always room for gelatin
By JEAN TELLER
Until the 1890s, gelatine or gelatin -a substance made from the collagen in animal skin and bones-was odorless, colorless and tasteless. Along came carpenter and cough remedy maker Pearle B. Wait from LeRoy, New York. His 1897 experiments added fruit flavoring to the gelatin to make a dessert his wife, May, named Jell-O. And the rest is history.
Wait sold his formula to another LeRoy resident, Orator Frank Woodward, known as O.F., for the tidy sum of $450. Woodward began manufacturing Jell-O in 1899, with the help of Andrew Nico of Lyons, New York. In a moment of gloom-sales had been abysmal-Woodward offered the Jell-O formula to Nico for a mere $35. Before the deal could go through, however, an advertising campaign took root and sales began to skyrocket.
Woodward’s Genesee Pure Food Co. first used the name “Jell-O” in 1900. Postum bought the company in 1925, which became General Foods in 1927. Another ad campaign in the 1930s spelled out “J-E-L-L-O” as a sponsorship of the Jack Benny radio show. And the 1950s saw the popularity soar for molded gelatin salads, with sales booming.
The 1960s found Jell-O promoted as a light dessert, with the advertising slogan, “There’s always room for Jell-O.” In 1989, General Foods merged with Kraft Foods. Originally only four flavors of Jell-O were offered: orange, lemon, strawberry and raspberry. Lime joined the group in 1930. Currently, 40 flavors of powdered Jell-O are on the market along with 11 prepared
Jell-O gelatin snack combinations, 57 pudding products and eight NoBake desserts.
You can learn more about Jell-O and its history at the Jell-O Gallery, a museum on Main Street in LeRoy, which now has a population of about 7,600. Visit the website at www.jellofallery.org, and for more recipes, head over to the Grit website (www.grit.com/jellorecipes). Jell-O has come a long way since 1897. Now try the Lemon Jell-O Cake recipe that promises to again become a family favorite.
Gelatin and cake
Sandra Ward, Sacramento, California, requested a lemon Jell-O cake recipe she remembered from the 1950s or ’60s. It included a white or yellow cake mix and
Barbara Hill, Sanger, California, sends a recipe with some delightful directions.
My Lemon and More Lemon Cake
1 box (regular size) cake mix, any brand
1 box (small size) lemon gelatin
3/4 cup vegetable oil, fresh
3/4 cup water, tap is fine
4 eggs (hope you have a chicken)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 3 lemons
Heat oven to 350?F. Grease and flour 9-by-13-inch pan; set aside.
Mix well the cake mix, gelatin, oil and water; add eggs one at a time and stir the thing very well. I use a wooden spoon. You can use your mixer if you want. Too many dishes to wash!
Pour into prepared pan. I always use glass, but you can use metal. Just be sure your pan is extremely clean.
Bake your cake at 350?F for about 35 minutes. Check after 30 minutes. Poke the top; if it comes back, it’s probably done. Use a toothpick anyway to make sure the middle is done.
While cake is baking, prepare the icing. Zest the lemon, add to sugar. Juice lemons and add to sugar mixture. Mix well.
Remove cake from oven and poke holes, about half inch deep, all over the cake; as many holes as you can. I use a table fork, but you could use the small end of chopsticks for bigger holes; depends on how much icing you want. Pour icing over the cake right away.
Let your cake sit for some time. The sugar will set, and the cake will be easier to cut.
This will be the hard part, waiting for the icing to cool. Go to a movie or take a nap.
Don’t tell anyone you are baking this cake. Just surprise everyone. Whipped cream goes well on top. Remember to always use confectioner’s sugar when you whip cream. It melts better and holds its shape better.
Good luck with your cake, and stay happy in your kitchen.
Nelda’s Lemon Jell-O Cake
Nelda Cronbaugh, Belle Plaine, Iowa, sends a slightly different recipe, saying, “So refreshing and delicious!”
1 package (2-layer) white cake mix
1 box (4-serving size) Lemon Jell-O
4 large eggs
1 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1 box (3 ounces) Lemon Jell-O
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
1 carton (41/2 ounces) whipped topping
Heat oven to 350?F. Grease 9-by-13-inch baking pan; set aside.
In large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, 1 cup water and oil. Beat on medium speed with mixer for about 4 minutes.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Do not underbake.
Cool in pan for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, dissolve Jell-O in boiling water, then add cold water.
With fork, poke holes in warm cake. Carefully pour Jell-O over cake. Chill for 3 to 4 hours.
Spread whipped topping on top of cooled cake.
Lemon Jell-O Cake
Sue Pahlon, Red Oak, Oklahoma, writes, “My mother was a wonderful baker and made lots of these (cakes) for all sorts of events. She was a member of the local homemaker’s club and worked every county fair for 50 years. This recipe was so good and moist. It stayed moist as long as covered, and it went to many gospel singings, church meetings, county fairs, funerals, family gatherings, reunions, etc. It also was one of those (recipes) you could change up to use other flavors. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your favorite flavors. Mom made sure she bought the three-egg cake mix and used the flavor of cake closest to the taste she wanted. In other words, strawberry cake mix, strawberry Jell-O and pureed strawberries made a wonderful early summer dessert. She even used her jams and jellies for toppings. She would divide it into two 9-inch square pans and freeze one.”
1 box (3-egg size) lemon or yellow cake mix
3/4 cup oil
4 large eggs, beaten
1 box (3 ounces) Lemon Jell-O
3/4 cup hot water
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 pound confectioner’s sugar
Heat oven to 350?F.
Empty cake mix into large bowl. Add oil and eggs.
Dissolve Jell-O in warm water; add to cake mix batter. Bake for 30 minutes. Poke holes in cake when done.
Mix lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar. Pour over cake while hot; icing will go into cake and keep it moist. Keep covered.
Special pickled recipe
Shirley Baumbach, Stokes, North Carolina, requests a recipe for Pickled Mushrooms, writing, “I have been looking for this recipe for years. In the 1970s, the owner of a mushroom farm near Wheaton, Illinois, gave me a recipe that was super. After many moves, the recipe is long gone.”
John Kasavicha, North Hoosick, New York, sends this version.
2 pounds small mushrooms
1 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup water
3 tablespoons canola or corn oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dry crushed basil
3 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
3/4 red bell pepper, diced
1 to 2 sterile jars (depending on size, height, etc.)
Clean mushrooms, cut off ends. Cut mushrooms into smaller pieces if using large size. Set aside.
Place remaining ingredients, except bell pepper, into large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add mushrooms and red bell pepper, and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender. Cool to room temperature.
Pour into sterile jars, cover, and refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Note: You can adjust the vinegar and sugar to your taste and make them taste just like store-bought, except much fresher. Make sure your balsamic vinegar has not been sitting around awhile.
The best fruitcake
Pat Brinkman, Oroville, Washington, is searching for a recipe for fruitcake that was on the back of a mincemeat jar in the 1970s. She calls it the best fruitcake she’s ever made.
While we didn’t mention the brand of mincemeat, many of the response recipes include None Such Mincemeat, which Pat mentioned in her original note. The None Such website, www.nonesuchrecipes.com, contains other recipes as well.
Sondra Williams, Kansas City, Kansas, sends a recipe she found on the back of a jar of Borden’s None Such Mincemeat. “I have been making it for years,” she writes. “It is easy to make, very moist, delicious, looks very pretty when baked in a Bundt pan.”
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 jar (28 ounces) Borden None Such Mincemeat
1 can (15 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 cups mixed candied fruit
21/2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Heat oven to 300?F. Butter 9-inch tube or Bundt pan; set aside.
Combine eggs, mincemeat, sweetened condensed milk, nuts and fruit. Fold in dry ingredients.
Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 2 hours.
Quick and Easy Fruitcake
Shirley Krause, Midland, Michigan, writes, “This recipe comes from a booklet by None Such Mincemeat in the 1960s. I have used it for years.”
3 cups baking mix (Jiffy or Bisquick)
1 jar (28 ounces) mincemeat
2/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups candied fruit
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dark corn syrup (I also add 1/4 cup molasses)
1 tablespoon hot water or brandy
Heat oven to 325?F. Generously spray tube pan with cooking spray; set aside.
In large bowl, combine baking mix, mincemeat, eggs, milk, oil, candied fruit and nuts; mix well.
Turn into prepared pan. Bake for 70 to 75 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before turning out of pan. Cool thoroughly.
In small bowl, mix together corn syrup and water; brush over cake. Wrap in foil and store in cool place.
Excerpted from GRIT. To read more articles from GRIT, please visit www.grit.com or call 866-803-7096 to subscribe. Copyright 2020 by Ogden Publications Inc.
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