As I mentioned on Tuesday, Jeannie from Life on the Clothesline is visiting today to share one of her favourite old-fashioned recipes (with a bonus recipe for chicken strips thrown in too!) This is the second post in her series on recipes from her Gram’s cookbook (sound familiar?) You can check out the first post on her blog. Enjoy!
Recipe: Honey Drop Cakes Source: New Royal Cook Book Date: 1922
I decided to take a break from the 1940s and explore some of the other cookbooks my great-grandmother left behind.
She has many books that were put out by baking powder companies but I chose this one because it looked like one of the oldest.
Printed in 1922.
In a section entitled “Cookies and Small Cakes” a recipe for “Honey Drop Cakes” caught my eye as I am always looking for recipes that substitute honey for more refined sweeteners.
Here is the original recipe.
I am not sure what “greased individual tins” would look like. Did they have a special “small cake” pan in the 1920s? Or, if I greased my muffin tin, would I get little round cakes? Motivated by simplicity (with all of the positivity I try to muster around washing dishes, I haven’t been able to convince myself that I like washing muffin tins!) I decided to go with the drop method instead.
The end result was definitely more cookie than cake, (maybe a cake-like cookie?) but oh so good! They kept well in a cookie tin for as long as they lasted (which wasn’t long since hubby loved them too.)
I then made a second version, taking out the sugar and adding some yummy add-ins. They came out looking completely different, but got rave reviews.
Here are my two variations.
Honey Drop Cakes (original)
Cream 1/3 cup softened butter, add 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup honey, a beaten egg yolk (save the white for later!) and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice. Mix well.
Add in 1 1/2 cups whole white flour and 1 1/2 tsp baking powder.
In a small bowl, beat egg white. (The recipe didn’t state how much to beat the white, so I stopped when it was white and foamy.)
Fold the egg white into the batter.
Drop far apart on greased baking sheet. I found I could fit 8 on mine with enough room for spreading.
Bake at 400 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes. (The original recipe says to cook in a hot oven for 10 – 15 minutes. My first batch was burnt by 10 minutes so I turned the oven down to 375 and they were still done before 10 minutes had passed, so keep your eye on them the first time.)
They are a rather plain cookie (or cake?) but that sweet honey taste gives them a nice flavour. You could even switch things up by using different types of honey. Or, you could try my second variation.
Lemon Cranberry Nut Honey Drop Cakes
- 1/3 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 egg, separated
- 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice
- zest from 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/2 cups whole white flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup each dried cranberries and chopped walnuts
Combine the batter as outlined for the original recipe, adding the lemon zest in with the juice, and folding in the cranberries and walnuts before the egg white. Cook on greased pans at 375 for 8 – 10 minutes, or until done.
Source: Victory Economy Bulletin No. 10 Date: 1940s
Here is another no-sugar war-time recipe. One of the reasons I am enjoying these recipes so much is the absence of refined sugars. I decided last year to try to use natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, etc.) as much as possible in my baking and have been editing recipes ever since. It’s nice when the work is already done for me!
These muffins are super-easy and really tasty. The molasses makes them just sweet enough, and I also added raisins to mine (because what are bran muffins without raisins?) I think they would also be really yummy with chopped dates, or maybe even diced apple!
Here is the original recipe:
Other than my add-ins, I made no changes to the recipe, but I should have reduced the cooking time to 15 minutes. At 15 minutes I could smell them cooking, which usually means it is time to take them out, but for some reason the left-side of my brain took over with its adherence to rules (see here? this recipe says 20 minutes, better leave them in!) and I ended up with slightly blackened (but still edible) muffins. However, if they are yummy overcooked (albeit, a little dry), I can’t wait to try them when they have been cooked for the right amount of time!
Cook’s note: if they look done and smell done, trust your intuition and take them out of the oven!
Bran and ‘Lasses Muffins
Combine 2 cups bran, 1/2 cup molasses and 1 1 /3 cup milk in a bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes. While you are waiting, turn on the oven to 400 degrees, beat an egg, and grease your muffin tins.
Stir in beaten egg.
Combine 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp baking soda. I also added 1/2 cup raisins to this batch and next time I might add 3/4 cup, or one of the other add-ins I mentioned above.
Add flour mixture to bran mixture and stir until combined. The mixture will be wet, but somewhat cumbly.
Fill 12 muffins cups and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until done.
Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
Or enjoy them hot right out of the pan!
Source: Victory Economy Bulletin No. 10 Date: WW2
It’s been a while since I have done one of these posts. If you are unfamiliar with this project, you can find out more here.
With the war putting restrictions on sugar, these “Victory Economy Bulletins” were put out by the Lakeside Home Baking Services Bureau as a way to help the cooks of the day create favourite recipes without sugar, and, of course, to promote the use of Campbell’s flour. I have made a few recipes from these bulletins already, some successfully, some not.
I think this might be the best one so far. It is sweet, with jam being the only sweet ingredient, it’s moist, easy to make, and Hubby would have happily eaten it all in one sitting if I had let him. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!”
Here is the recipes as written:
And my version.
Mix one cup of whole wheat pastry flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
(Note the vintage bowl)
Cut in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or softened butter until crumbly.
Add enough milk to make a soft dough (I found this took slightly less than 1/3 cup)
Roll about 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface. If necessary, use your fingers to nudge it into a rectangular shape. Spread with a thick jam (I used raspberry.)
Gently roll up the dough until you have a log-looking shape. (Be gentle! You don’t want the jam to squish out everywhere!)
Now….here is the step that gave me pause. The recipe asks me to put it into a greased bowl and steam. Although I vaguely remember my grandmother steaming plum puddings at Christmas it has been years since I have seen such a thing. Hello Google! I discovered the Roly-Poly was often originally steamed in a shirt sleeve to keep its log-like shape, but that you could also wrap it in parchment paper to achieve the same effect. Many sites recommended the use of a “pudding steamer” (hmmm…..I seem to have missed that one on the bridal registry…) which is a nice oblong shape. Then there were sites that recommended using your roasting pan as the steamer with the metal rack serving to keep the pudding off the bottom.
So I went to the expert – Mom! She recommended the use of a double boiler steamer and a glass bowl (hmm….kind of like the original recipe suggested?) The problem is the long log wouldn’t fit into the bowl that would fit into my double broiler (trust me, this recipe is easy, I just have a knack for turning the easiest thing into a Google hunt.)
So, I did what I should have done from the beginning. I cut the roll in half, put them side by side in the greased bowl, covered it with parchment paper secured with an elastic, and put it in the steaming basket over a pot of boiling water.
After 45 minutes I had almost boiled my pot dry (note to self, check the pot every once in a while when steaming) and the pudding was steamed to perfection.
The recipe suggests serving with a sauce, but I opted for whipping up a little cream and flavouring it with a little of the raspberry jam. Yum.
Not only was this a good dessert, but I no longer have a fear of steamed puddings (and there are MANY of them in Nana’s collection.)
I’d love to know if you give this a try, or if you have tried other steamed desserts. Enjoy!
As you can see, Exhibit A does not really resemble a cheesecake. Although it tasted pretty good, cheesecake soup might have been a better name. As soon as I cut into it (and got over the disappointment – I had planned to bring it to a party that night!) I had a good inkling of where I went wrong so I decided to try this recipe again. With much better results.
As far as Nana’s handwritten recipes go, this one had some pretty clear instructions. I did wonder at the lack of crust and what kind of pan to bake this in, but a quick search informed me that there are such things as “crustless” cheese cakes and that they can be baked in a pie pan, so that is what I decided to do.
Putting this cake together is actually very simple. First you mix together one package of plain cream cheese (the kind that comes in the box, not the modern easy-spread variety) and 1/2 cup sugar. I used turbinado sugar.
When it’s well mixed beat in 3 egg yolks (save the whites!). And then stir in one cup of well-drained crushed pineapple. (Unless you like cheese cake soup and then by all means throw in some of that juice too!) The first time I made this I quasi-drained the pineapple and thought it was “good enough.” After all, the recipe didn’t actually say whether it was supposed to be drained or with the juice. Trust me on this one – well-drained is the way to go. Refer to Exhibit A.
Pour into a 9″ pie plate. I greased the pan hoping that would help it to release easier and I also put a circle of parchment paper in the bottom. It did release very easily from the pan, but it also made the edges and top a golden brown….not the usual colour for a cheese cake. If I make this again I might try the parchment paper alone, no grease, and see what happens. I am quite proud of the finished product anyway, especially of the way it stands up on the plate all by itself! (No soup for hubby this time…although he didn’t seem to mind devouring the last one.)
We haven’t cut into this one yet but if the soupy version was good, this one can only be better!
Wow! I was surprised by all the kind comments after the muffins didn’t work out. I’m really not that upset – I knew going into this project that I couldn’t possibly like all of the recipes (remember the Ox head?) In the long run of all the mistakes I have made in the kitchen (such as somehow taking the burgers out of the freezer to thaw last night and not actually putting them into the fridge so I discovered them on the counter just before dinner time all warm and unsafe to eat……sigh……) I was just happy the muffins were still edible!
I love directions like “remove from fire.” It reminds me of just how old some of these recipes are….
I once again substituted butter for the shortening and melted 1/4 cup of it along with 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses in a pot on the stove. Unless you love the taste of blackstrap molasses I wouldn’t use it, because it is really overpowering. In fact my finished cookies should be called molasses cookies, because that really was the dominant flavour.
While that was cooling I mixed 1 1/4 cups of whole wheat pastry flour, 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and a tablespoon of orange rind into a big bowl. Then I poured in the molasses and butter and mixed it up.
It looked like a gooey sticky mess and I couldn’t imagine how this would ever turn into something I could roll out and cut cookies from.
Oh me of little faith…
After an hour in the fridge and a dusting of flour it was ready for the cookie cutter.
I chose to cut out cats, because, if I’m going to go to all the trouble to roll out the dough and use cookie cutters I am going to use something fun.
Then I placed them on a greased cookie sheet and baked burnt them for 10 minutes at 375. Yep. Burnt beyond edibility.
So I turned down the temperature to 350 and put them in for 8 minutes.
And burnt them again. Just around the edges. And the molasses makes them dark anyway so I pretended not to notice.
Notes to self – use fancy molasses and bake for less than 8 minutes and WATCH CAREFULLY!
This is beginning to sound like a little too much work to make again. Do you have recipes like that? It’s not that I’m lazy, just that I’m not very good at watching things that aren’t really doing anything. I start out ok but then my mind will start to wander and I’ll think “Oh! This would be a good time to whip up some muffin batter while the oven is already on” or “hey, I should go see if the laundry is ready to come in” and off I will go and the thing that is supposed to be watched carefully will do whatever it is going to do in its own way on its own time.
I am ok with this. I think it’s good that I understand my own limitations.
The finished cookies tasted like crunchy and slightly burnt blackstrap molasses. Despite this all 14 of the ginger burnt molasses cats did eventually get eaten, which either demonstrates how great this recipe is or my commitment to wasting as little food as possible, I’m not sure which.
I will leave you with this – try this recipe yourself at your own risk. But if you manage to bake unburnt cookies that taste like ginger I’d love to know about it! It might give me the motivation to try this one again….
And no need for sympathy notes, I haven’t spent my whole week eating burnt cookies and dry muffins, I also made some amazing treats using this recipe and they were so good! I took a plate to a friend’s house and our husbands ate the whole plate between them in one evening. Maybe I should have brought the ginger cats….
I was excited about this one because I love muffins, I love muffins more that are sweetened with honey, and orange muffins sounded delicious. Do not doubt my muffin love. It is often the thought of the delicious muffins waiting for me on the counter that pull me out of my warm bed at 6:00 in the morning in a way that my beeping alarm clock can never quite accomplish on its own.
I did actually stir the zest in but I couldn’t resist taking this picture with all that beautiful and fragrant orange peel on top. In another bowl I combined all of the wet ingredients, substituting melted butter for the shortening.
I then poured the wet into the dry and combined them until just mixed. I spooned the batter into a greased twelve-cup muffin tin and baked the muffins at 375 for 15 minutes, then I realized they were cooking too quickly and turned the oven down to 350 for the remaining 15.
Unfortunately, this is one of those things that does not taste as good as it smells. Despite the honey and egg and juice and milk and butter I found these muffins really dry. They have good orangey flavour, but that’s about all they have going for them. They are definitely not the kind of muffin that pulls you out of bed in the morning. I admittedly have enjoyed eating them for breakfast, sliced in half and topped with peanut butter, but despite that I probably would not make them again.
I think this is the first of my Nana’s recipes that I have tried that won’t make it into my recipe book!
And I am sure it won’t be the last….
One of the reasons that I was so excited to find my great-grandmother’s recipes was that I was sure they would be a good source of real, wholesome, good-for-you foods. The Handy Reliable was written well before most food “products” were created, and although some of the recipes are out of reach of the modern cook, many of these 1892 dishes have helped to build my real food, low/no sugar repertoire. I was surprised to discover that white sugar existed in 1892 (when did we start creating this refined stuff anyway?) and so have returned to searching through the stash for recipes that contain none of the white stuff.
Enter in World War II. A time when sugar rationing meant that cooks had to find “new” ways to sweeten their dishes. Unfortunately some of this was accomplished with corn syrup, but many of the recipes use other, more natural ingredients such as honey, maple syrup, and dates. I was excited to discover a whole stack of “Victory Bulletins” put out by the Lakeside Milling Company of Toronto, Ontario. Last night I created the first of these recipes.
I discovered that Campbell’s flour was a pastry flour, so I substituted whole wheat pastry flour in the amount indicated. Everything else I kept exactly the same. (Really….I didn’t change a thing…I’m not sure what’s wrong with me…..maybe I’m coming down with something….)
This was pretty easy to put together. Basically, you have three bowls.
In bowl one – 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup whole wheat flour (and no, I didn’t sift the flour, so I guess that’s two changes, maybe everything is alright with the world after all….)
In bowl two, 1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates (the recipe says to wash these, I have never washed my dates, have you? Maybe the recipe was originally made with fresh dates?) , 3/4 cup boiling water and 1 tsp. baking soda.
Take turns combing bowl one and bowl two into bowl three, beating after each addition (Hmmm..that sounds a little bit like the instructions that came with our canning shelf – insert Bolt A into Slot B and secure with Nut C. Maybe I should retitle this post “Honey Wholewheat Bread – Some Assembly Required!) When everything is all mixed together, fold in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1 tbsp. melted butter.
Bake at 350 for an hour. I reduced the temperature to 325 halfway through cooking as the top was getting a little too brown. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
I really enjoyed this bread. It is quite different from any quick bread I have ever made before in that the sweetness comes from the dates, and not the bread itself. It really is a nice balance and I will definitely be making this again. I do not yet know if it is a hit with the “menfolk” as the recipe boasts as hubby has not yet tried any. I’ll have to let you know his verdict in a future post.
It would probably be good with butter or jam or any kind of topping but I loved it just as it is!
Recipe: Oatmeal Fruit Bars Source: The Toronto Star Date: 1943
I have started to sift through some of the many recipes my great-grandmother clipped out of newspapers. I am finding the newspapers not only great for finding recipes, but also a glimpse into a by-gone era. This recipe came from a December 1943 edition of the newspaper. The fruit bars themselves contain mincemeat, and since it was my great-grandmother reading this paper, when it states that “our grandmothers and great-grandmothers would always make mincemeat when Christmas time came around” it is referring to my great-great grandmothers, and my great-great-great grandmothers!! That’s quite a few greats! Don’t you love being part of a tradition passed down through so many generations?
She also states that the recipe is being printed as a substitute for date squares as dates were a “casualty of war-times” and the mincemeat recipe included is meatless due to women wanting to “spend their precious meat rations on more nourishing dishes.”
And the recipe shares a page with a story on achieving the perfect made-up look in less time, and this article on baby’s bowel movements (because that’s what everyone wants to read about as they are contemplating new recipes…..)
This was a very simple and straight-forward recipe. And an excellent use of the mincemeat I still have in the freezer from last years green tomato crop.
Oatmeal Fruit Bars
- 1 1/2 cups pastry flour or 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (I used a little over half a cup of Demerara)
- 1/2 tsp soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup shortening and 1/4 cup butter (I used 1/2 cup butter)
- 1 1/2 cups moist mincemeat
These were really good. The perfect balance between crumb and mincemeat. I think they would be good with a date filling too!
Hubby and I were craving something sweet last night but there was absolutely nothing in the house that met that description (I offered to make hubby a smoothie but he turned me down - good, but not really a “dessert”). Then it was Nana’s recipes to the rescue with this very simple recipe for Coconut Macaroons. (yes, it is as hard to read as the photo shows)
I love anything with coconut so I was really excited to make these. And I liked the fact that the recipe just made a dozen – perfect for a family of two to share.
- 4 oz coconut ( the recipe actually say 4 oz or one package, but there was a HUGE difference between my package and 4 oz. I used my scale and weighed the coconut)
- 1 egg well beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar (I used turbinado)
- 1 tsp almond extract
So far, so good. Easy peasy, right?
Beat egg thoroughly until stiff, then add to coconut mixture.
Ok…so I know I am not the most advance cook or baker, but I’m pretty sure that you can’t beat a whole egg until stiff (and then I googled it just to make sure that I was right about that…I was…) So…did this mean that I was supposed to separate the egg and beat the egg white until stiff? Did the term “stiff” in regards to the egg not mean what I think it means? Or was this just another one of Nana’s…um…”typos” (what do you call that when it refers to actual writing?) As I had already started to beat the egg, just in case it surprised me and actually did become stiff (it didn’t) I just beat it really well until it was nice and frothy. Cooking is an art, not a science, right?
Bake in moderate oven (350) for 15 – 20 minutes.
15 minutes was too long for these in my oven. They were definitely a little more brown than they should have been (that didn’t stop us from eating them though…). I would add to these instructions to remove them immediately from the pan onto a wire rack, otherwise they kind of stick to the pan, and in the process of trying to get them off they get all squished and some of them might fall apart and the sticky goo might make your spatula really hard to clean. Of course, you have to eat the sticky, gooey, fallen apart ones right away – that’s just the way these things go.
If you have any left, store them in an airtight container. I found them to be crunchier the second day, but, then again, they were a little dark around the edges to begin with.