Mapleine Raisin Cake—1926

The Vintage Recipe

I came across a recipe for Raisin Cake in a narrow column of advertisements in the October 1926 issue of The Farmer’s Wife magazine. The recipe was sponsored by the Crescent Manufacturing Company of Seattle, Washington, makers of the wildly successful imitation maple flavoring branded Mapleine. Growing up my mother always made homemade pancake syrup using Mapleine which was the product’s most widely known “back of the box” recipe. I was interested in trying Mapleine in a different application so I tried the recipe printed in the advertisement. The cake was amazing!

Mapleine Ad The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women October 1926

Raisin Cake

  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs well beaten
  • 1 cup seedless raisins
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup hot applesauce, strained
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp Mapleine

Sift flour, spices, and soda. Cream shortening beat in sugar, eggs, chopped raisins, and nuts. Add flour alternately with the applesauce. Bake in greased layer pans in a moderate oven.

Mapleine Icing

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cold water
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ tsp Mapleine

Put sugar, water, and unbeaten egg white in a double boiler, place over boiling water and beat with an egg beater for six minutes. Remove from fire; add Mapleine. Beat until thick enough to spread.

My Take on the Recipe

I followed the recipe as written except for using butter instead of shortening and I added a half teaspoon of salt. I even heated up my home-canned applesauce – a curiosity of this recipe (more about that later). I also substituted pecans for the walnuts. I baked the cake in nine-inch round pans and set my oven at a moderate temperature of 350 degrees.

Once cooled, I began preparing the Mapleine Icing–which failed. I’m not sure why but it never became a fluffy frosting consistency. It stayed at a runny sugary stage. Perhaps it was because I used an electric mixer instead of the prescribed egg beater. Ha! So, I decided to try a different icing recipe all together—Coconut Pecan Frosting (recipe below)—a mid-century recipe that I typically use for Oatmeal Raisin Cake. It was a match made in heaven!

Hot Applesauce?

Now a word about hot applesauce—Why? Perhaps it was thought that the cake would rise higher or have a lighter texture if the applesauce was warm. Or maybe the cake would bake faster because it was warm when it went in the oven. I don’t know for sure, but with some research, I found only one other recipe that called for hot applesauce (below). Most vintage recipes just called for applesauce.

General Foods Cook Book 1932
General Foods Cook Book 1932

Going in the “Tried and True” Recipe File

In the end, I ended up with a moist moderately-dense raisin cake that was very flavorful. The cake recipe for Mapleine Raisin Cake is going into my “tried and true” dessert recipe file alongside the Coconut Pecan Frosting recipe because I will be making it again soon! Below I have created a printable recipe for both cake and frosting. I have included the salt measurement that I used as it balances the flavor of the batter. –Enjoy!

Elaine

Mapleine Raisin Cake-1926

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup hot applesauce
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp Mapleine flavoring
  • 1 cup seedless raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Grease and flour (or spray with baking spray) 2 nine-inch round cake pans; set aside.
  2. Sift flour, spices, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs; blend well.
  4. Blend in dry ingredients alternately with applesauce, ending with dry ingredients. Stir in Mapleine flavoring.
  5. Fold in raisins and chopped pecans.
  6. Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
  7. Turn cake onto cooling racks.
  8. Frost with Coconut Pecan Frosting when cakes are completely cool.

Recipe Compliments of farmerswifemagazine.com

Coconut Pecan Frosting

  • Servings: Frosts a 9 inch round layer cake
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Dash of kosher salt
  • ½ cup cream or evaporated milk
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. In a two-quart saucepan melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and cream.
  2. Bring mixture to a simmer stirring frequently. Cook for several minutes until sugar is dissolved and mixture thickens slightly.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in coconut, chopped pecans and vanilla.
  4. Allow frosting to cool to spreading consistency.
  5. Recipe makes enough to frost top, sides and between the layers of a nine-inch cake.

Recipe Compliments of farmerswifemagazine.com

Upside Down Cake Sampler–1930s

After baking the Upside Down Cake recipe featured in the October 1926 issue of The Farmer’s Wife (HERE), I became curious about the history of this type of cake.

In the mid-1920s, The Hawaiian Pineapple Company owned by James Dole held a recipe contest featuring pineapple. Information about the contest was publicized in popular women’s magazines and the response was almost overwhelming! Many of the submissions combined the newly available pineapple with a cake recipe to create a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Interestingly Upside Down Cakes were not new. They had been baked for hundreds of years using seasonal or dried fruits and nuts. The combination of cake and canned pineapple was a match made in culinary heaven and is still popular today.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake–1926

I followed the recipe from The Farmer’s Wife magazine (below) as written except for replacing the lemon extract with vanilla and adding maraschino cherries inside the pineapple rings. It was delicious! The cake however was a sponge leavened with stiffly beaten egg whites. Once baked and turned out of the pan the weight of the fruit and caramel topping began at once to compress the cake. Fortunately, it didn’t completely collapse and we were able to enjoy every last crumb.

Upside Down Cake

  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs (beaten separately)
  • ½ tsp lemon extract
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 4 Tbsp cold water

Beat yolks with sugar, add water and flavoring. Sift dry ingredients and add to mixture. Beat well 5 minutes. Fold in well-beaten whites of eggs.

In an iron skillet melt four tablespoonsful butter and one cupful brown sugar. Cover bottom of skillet with slices of pineapple then pour the cake mixture over this and bake in a moderate oven for at least forty minutes. Start at 260 degrees let rise to 300 degrees.

*Other fruit can be used instead of pineapple.

So my question at this point was whether all Upside Down Cakes were sponge cakes, and I quickly found that they were not. Many were sturdier butter cakes. Below is a sampler of Upside Down Cakes from the 1930s:

The recipe for Pineapple Skillet Sponge (below) comes from the My Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book from 1930. It obviously is a sponge leavened with stiffly beaten egg whites and baking powder:

Pineapple Skillet Sponge, My Better Homes, and Gardens Cook Book 1930

The following recipe comes from a Crescent advertising booklet who were the makers of baking powder and the Mapleine flavoring called for in the recipe.

The All About Home Baking cookbook 1935 (below) demonstrates how other fruits such as prunes and apricots can be used in Upside Down Cakes:

Using the Miracle Cake recipe, a home baker could make three different cakes with the amount of batter that it makes!

Modern Meal Maker 1939 contains recipes for eight different kinds of Upside Down Cakes

A cookbook titled Modern Meal Maker from 1939 boasts menus including desserts for every day of the year. A list of the Upside Down Cake recipes it contains gives us a glimpse of just how versatile skillet cakes could be and how popular they were. Most of the combinations sound really good except for the one calling for fresh or canned grapes!

  • Ginger Apple Surprise—a seven-inch cake made with molasses, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves “topped” with apple slices and caramel
  • Pineapple Upside Down Gingerbread—baked in an eight-inch square pan, the gingerbread has molasses, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg with caramel and crushed pineapple
  • Grape Upside Down Ginger Cake—a butter cake with buttermilk, ginger, cinnamon and cloves with fresh or canned grapes and caramel for the “topping” to be garnished with fresh grapes and whipped cream
  • Orange Pineapple Upside Down Cake—a caramel made with brown sugar and orange juice with sliced pineapple, walnuts and stuffed dates covered over with a spice cake batter with cinnamon, cloves and buttermilk
  • Peach Butterscotch Upside Down Cake—a butterscotch sauce flavored with mace is poured over peach halves and raisins arranged in the shape of a flower in the bottom of a nine-inch pan with a sponge batter poured over
  • Pineapple Walnut Upside Down Cake—sliced pineapple, walnuts and maraschino cherry are covered with a caramel glaze and baked with a sponge cake
  • Rhubarb Upside Down Cakes—a thick rhubarb compote is spooned into the bottom of six large muffin tins then baked with a hot milk sponge cake
  • Spanish Upside Down Cakes—vanilla butter cake batter covers caramel and apricot filled muffin cups to make twelve individual Upside Down Cakes  

Upside down cakes enjoyed a resurgence in popularity during the mid-twentieth century and are now, a hundred years later, all over the internet often baked in a bundt pan for a striking presentation. Some “recipes” simply call for a prepared yellow cake mix to be baked over the fruit and caramel. I think skillet cakes will live forever.

Elaine

Halloween Yum-Yums

Cover of The Farmer’s Wife magazine–November 1926

Welcome Friends!

As we begin a new month, I was a little perplexed with the cover of the November 1926 edition of The Farmer’s Wife magazine (see image above). It is obviously an illustration of a child’s Halloween party, but why was it used in November. After about a week’s worth of pondering, it occurred to me that All Hallows Eve (aka Halloween) is celebrated October 31st, but All Hallows Day, which is mostly forgotten in America, falls on November 1st. Similar perhaps to the reveling of New Year’s Eve compared to more sedate New Year’s Day celebrations.

This observation helped make me a little more comfortable with my (ahem) late Halloween post. Today I’m featuring an unlikely Halloween dessert found in the October 1926 issue of The Farmer’s Wife – Upside Down Cake. The article titled “Halloween Yum-Yums” reminds readers that “Everybody likes to have fun and frolic on Halloween, then sometime during the evening everyone’s thoughts turn to food.” Several menu suggestions are listed followed by recipes for the desserts. For some reason, the Upside-Down Cake caught my fancy. Never having made or even tasted one, I decided to give it a try. But before we jump into the recipe let’s review a little of the history of pineapple and upside-down cakes.

In the early twentieth century, canned pineapple was a luxury affordable only by the well-to-do. Before mechanization, processing the pineapples from farm to cans all had to be done by hand. The price for decent fresh pineapple was exorbitant when it was available as shipping fruit long distances was difficult before refrigeration technology. By the mid-1920s the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, owned by James Dole, had developed a way to efficiently peel, slice, pack and seal fresh pineapple in shelf-stable cans to be shipped to the mainland.

Hawaiian Pineapple Ad 1920s

As a way of promoting their now readily available and affordable product, the company held a recipe contest in 1925 featuring canned pineapple. A whopping 60,000 recipes were submitted with 2,500 being for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Interestingly, it wasn’t the upside-down cake that was new, it was the availability of pineapple. Skillet cakes, as they were called, had been around for hundreds of years. Layering bits of seasonal or dried fruit and nuts on the bottom of a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, then covering the fruit with cake batter, and baking in a fire or oven resulted in a relatively easy and satisfying dessert whether turned upside-down or not.

Now back to the Halloween Yum-Yums. Below is the recipe for Upside Down Cake as it was published in The Farmer’s Wife magazine in 1926:

Upside Down Cake

  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs (beaten separately)
  • ½ tsp lemon extract
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 4 Tbsp cold water

Beat yolks with sugar, add water and flavoring. Sift dry ingredients and add to mixture. Beat well 5 minutes. Fold in well-beaten whites of eggs.

In an iron skillet melt four tablespoonsful butter and one cupful brown sugar. Cover bottom of skillet with slices of pineapple then pour the cake mixture over this and bake in a moderate oven for at least forty minutes. Start at 260 degrees let rise to 300 degrees.

*Other fruit can be used instead of pineapple.

One of the first things I noticed about this recipe was the date of publication. It was obviously an early version of Pineapple Upside Down Cake. The next thing I noticed was that the cake batter contains no fat and the eggs are to be separated with the whites well beaten. This told me that the cake is a “sponge”, a more delicate cake than a “butter” cake. I followed the recipe as written except for leaving out the lemon extract and increasing the vanilla extract to one teaspoon. I also placed maraschino cherries inside the pineapple rings before pouring over the batter. I even went through the process of slowly raising the oven temperature from 260 degrees to 300 degrees in five-minute increments which was totally unnecessary according to other recipes from the same time period. With such a slow oven it took over fifty minutes to completely bake.

In the end, the cake turned out beautifully and the flavor was excellent albeit quite sweet. I would definitely make another Upside-Down Cake, not with this recipe, but one with a sturdier butter cake recipe.

I thought the notation at the end of the recipe “Other fruit can be used instead of pineapple” was very telling. That statement points directly back to earlier skillet cakes or upside-down cakes.

I am presently compiling a sampler of other early twentieth-century Upside Down Cake recipes that I discovered while researching this article. That post will be coming soon. I am also gathering November grocery ads from the 1920s so we can compare prices between then and now. Meanwhile, Happy November!

Elaine      

Creamy Pumpkin Pie — 1980

“Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie!”

Lydia Maria Child 1844 — Novelist, Journalist, Poet

I remember Libby’s jingle from when I was a kid — If it says Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s on the label, label, label — You will like it, like it, like it on your table, table, table, and as Americans, we have loved Libby’s pumpkin pie on our Thanksgiving table for generations. Since the 1950s, home cooks, including my mother and grandmother, have been making pumpkin pies using the recipe printed on the back of the label. Calling for simple ingredients — Libby’s pumpkin, of course, granulated sugar, evaporated milk, spices, and a couple of eggs blended together and baked in a pastry lined-pan — pumpkin pie (with a dollop of whipped cream) is the perfect finishing touch to a Thanksgiving meal.

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MAGIC PUMPKIN PIE 008

Old Recipes Are New Again

Recently, after nearly seventy years of service, Libby’s classic pumpkin pie recipe underwent a makeover (recipe above). How did Libby’s update their recipe? Simply by changing the way the filling is sweetened. Instead of adding granulated sugar to the pie filling, the recipe calls for a can of sweetened condensed milk. (To adjust for the liquid in the condensed milk, the amount of evaporated milk had to be reduced.) That’s it. All the other ingredients stayed exactly the same. Did that make a difference in the flavor of the filling? Absolutely! Something about sweetened condensed milk adds a depth of rich, creamy, almost caramel-y flavor to whatever it’s in. It’s sort of like magic. As a matter of fact, adding sweetened condensed milk to pumpkin pie filling, was not a novel idea in 2019. Borden’s Eagle Brand Milk Company printed a cook booklet in 1952 with a recipe called Magic Pumpkin Pie (below) very similar to Libby’s new recipe. I guess it could be said that recipe developers in corporate test kitchens think alike.

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A Century of Sweeteners

Curious about the sweeteners traditionally used in pumpkin pie, I took to my twentieth-century cookbooks to see what the old recipes could tell me. Of course, many recipes simply called for granulated sugar. However, in the first half of the century, brown sugar was often the sweetener. Sometimes the brown sugar was paired with half granulated sugar, but frequently, it was accompanied by a little molasses or corn syrup — dark or light.

The Modern Family Cook Book 1953 offers two recipes for Pumpkin Pie — one calling for granulated sugar and the other for brown sugar. Recipe #1 also lets the home cook know what a perfect pumpkin pie should look like:

Perfectly baked pumpkin pie has no wrinkles or cracks on its surface. Long slow baking produces a smooth, shiny surface with the true golden pumpkin color.

Meta Givens, The Modern Family Cook Book 1953

A Lost Method

The instructions in recipe #2 are unique. Calling for canned pumpkin, it says to “turn the pumpkin into a saucepan and stir over direct heat (no heat setting is given) until pumpkin is somewhat dried out and has a slightly caramelized appearance.” Evidently this caramelization step has become “lost” as it was not found in any other twentieth-century cookbook. It would be interesting to know if the caramelization adds to the flavor of the pumpkin.

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Unusual Ingredients

Along with the typical eggs, milk, pumpkin, sugar and spices, several recipes included some unusual items in their ingredient list — baking soda, rose water, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract, orange juice, brandy or rum, coconut and raisins. Mace and cardamom were each included in a recipe to go along with the traditional cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.

Mid-Century Chiffon Pie

The American Woman’s Cook Book 1966, introduces a new approach to pumpkin pie. Instead of baking the pie in the oven, the filling for Pumpkin Chiffon Pie is cooked on the stovetop and cooled, after which beaten egg whites are folded in. The filling is then poured into a gingersnap crumb crust and refrigerated until firm.

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A Lost Recipe

In a recipe book titled America’s Best Lost Recipes 2007 published by the editors of Cook’s Country, a charming story is shared of a young woman who submitted her grandmother’s Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie recipe — a Thanksgiving family favorite — for consideration as part of the publisher’s “lost” recipes project. Grandmother’s recipe made the cut, and after some America’s-Test-Kitchen adjustments, the recipe was included in the book. Sadly, what the reader gets is not grandma’s recipe, but the test kitchen version. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon the original recipe.

Found in The Busy Woman’s Cook Book 1971, the recipe for Frozen Pumpkin Pie (below) calls for a quart of softened vanilla ice cream, a cup of pumpkin puree, a little sugar (Cook’s Country suggests using brown sugar) and some spices. Once the filling is blended together and spooned into a baked pastry shell, it is frozen for several hour (or overnight) — so easy. Another suggestion from America’s Test Kitchen was the use of a graham cracker crumb crust as opposed to a pastry shell — even easier. This recipe is going into my “must try” file. I will report on my results.

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Creamy Pumpkin Pie

In the 1980s, I came across a recipe for Creamy Pumpkin Pie in an old church cookbook. I tried it and it has become our Thanksgiving family favorite. The amount of filling this recipe makes is a little too much for a traditional 9″ pie pan, so in the past I either baked the extra custard in a lightly oiled ramekin or reduced the amount of warm water to 3/4 cup. This year I tried using a 9″ deep-dish pie plate and it worked perfectly. In place of the pumpkin pie spice, I make my own combination using cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice (measurements listed below). Enjoy!

Creamy Pumpkin Pie

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 (9 inch) deep-dish unbaked pastry shell

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice OR 1 rounded tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and a dash of allspice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup warm water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450*.
  2. In a two quart mixing bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until light in color. Blend in pumpkin puree and sweetened condensed milk. Mix in pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir in warm water. Pour filling into unbaked pastry shell.
  3. Bake pie on bottom rack for 15 minutes at 450*. Reduce heat to 325* and continue baking 40 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted off-center comes out clean.
  4. Cool completely before serving. Refrigerate left overs.

Recipe Compliments of Cookbooklady.com

Magic Cookie Bars

“These are heavenly and should be called ‘Oh-no-I-shouldn’t’ cookies. They’re terribly rich, but terribly good, particularly when served with coffee as a dessert.”

Grace Barr, Orlando Evening Star Food Editor, 1968

The Back Story of Sweetened Condensed Milk

In New York, during the early to mid-1800s , the most dangerous food a child might consume was fluid cow’s milk. With germ theory yet unknown, contaminated milk was a leading cause of child mortality.

The Voyage

Gail Borden
Gail Borden, Jr. 1801 — 1874

Gail Borden, a self-taught food scientist, attended The World’s Fair in London in 1851, where he received awards for his invention of a shelf-stable meat-biscuit (think protein bar). Though revolutionary, the dehydrated meat didn’t sell well because of its unpleasant taste. While on his return voyage to New York, Mr. Borden witnessed first-hand the horrors that raw milk could hold. Two dairy cows were brought on board the ship to provide milk for immigrant babies whose families had booked passage to America. During the journey, the cattle became sick with an infectious disease and died. In turn, the children fell ill and lay dying in their mother’s arms. Mr. Borden was moved with compassion.

The Quest

Upon his return, Borden immersed himself in the development of a sanitary shelf-stable baby formula. With no knowledge of germs or bacteria, Borden knew something needed to be done to stop the “incipient decomposition of milk.” First, he boiled cow’s milk in a pot to reduce the amount of liquid to make it more transportable. Then he added sugar. Unfortunately, the result of boiling milk in an open vessel was a burned, bad-tasting mass. Having learned the hard way with his meat-biscuit, Bordon knew that taste and appearance would be key to the success of his product. He went back to the drawing board.

The Science

vac pan drawing

Hearing about a curious way that Shaker’s processed medicinal herbs by boiling them in an enclosed vacuum pan, Mr. Borden arranged to spend some time with them to learn about the process. He tried the vacuum method with milk, which resulted in a pleasant tasting product with a creamy milk-like appearance. By boiling the milk in an enclosed vacuum pan, it killed any bacteria that was present and prevented any other bacterial exposure during the cooking process. Bordon also discovered that by adding a substantial amount of sugar,  the shelf-life of the milk was greatly extended since bacteria cannot grow in such a sugary mixture.

Cook’s Science 2016 from the editors of America’s Test Kitchen explains that sweetened condensed milk has 60% of the water removed and has 40% to 45% added sugar. The editors note that an open can of sweetened condensed milk can be left at room temperature for several weeks without spoiling.

The Patent

1922_Eagle_Brand_newspaper_ad
Borden Newspaper Ad 1922

Borden did not understand the science behind the process he had developed. He just knew that it stopped the decomposition of milk, it tasted good and kept for a long time. His application for a patent on the vacuum boiling process was denied for several years due to the lack of scientific knowledge to understand what he had actually done. In time, science caught up, and in 1856, Borden was awarded the patent he sought. Little by little, the new baby formula began to catch on and is credited with saving the lives of thousands of children. Sweetened condensed milk was to be Gail Borden’s greatest accomplishment.

The Fortune

Always a man of hard work and humble means, Borden’s fortune was finally made in 1861, when the U.S. Government ordered sweetened condensed milk as part of the rations for the Union army during the Civil War. Canned, compact, and calorie-dense, the rich fluid served the soldiers well, not only through the Civil war but also during WWI. Sweetened condensed milk was later included in the foodstuffs dropped into besieged West Germany during the Berlin Airlift of the late 1940s. Returning soldiers shared their enthusiasm for the product, and “Borden’s Milk” was on its way to becoming a pantry staple.

The Legacy

coffe tea and chocolate

Advertising was important to the Borden company from the beginning. First, for baby formula, then as soldiers and their families began enjoying sweetened condensed milk in their coffee and tea, the company’s advertising pivoted from filling a nutritional need to becoming the quintessential ingredient in making desserts from ice cream to fruitcake. The printed advertisements exploded from black and white scientific-style ads in newspapers to full-page colored ads in magazines. During the mid-1960s, a recipe for Borden’s Magic Cookie Bars, with sweetened condensed milk as the “magic” ingredient, burst onto the baking scene, and desserts have never been the same.

The Recipe — 1970s

While researching this article, I was interested to learn how the recipe for Magic Cookie Bars has changed over the years. In a magazine ad from the 1970s (below), the recipe calls for one cup (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate or butterscotch morsels, a 3 oz can or 1-1/3 cup flaked coconut, and a 15 oz can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. The directions say to melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan before pouring it into the baking dish to be mixed with the graham cracker crumbs. The order given for layering the remaining ingredients is illustrated in the ad with sweetened condensed milk poured over the top.

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The Recipe — 1999

In a magazine ad from 1999 (below), the recipe for Magic Cookie Bars instructs the baker to preheat the oven to 325* if using a glass pan. The butter or margarine is to be melted in the baking pan in the oven, then combined with the graham cracker crumbs or chocolate cookie crumbs. The sweetened condensed milk is then poured over the crumb crust with the other ingredients layered on top. The can size of sweetened condensed milk was reduced to 14 ounces, and the recipe doubled the amount of chocolate chips to twelve ounces. Yum! Once layered, the home cook is instructed to “press down firmly with a fork” to bind the ingredients together. Some substitutions are suggested at the bottom of the recipe — mini M&Ms, dried cranberries, raisins, mini marshmallows or butterscotch chips. Its evident that part of the “magic” in Magic Cookie Bars is the variety of ways the recipe can be personalized. Several Christmas’s ago, a coworker substituted white chocolate chips and Craisins for the usual semi-sweet chocolate chips. They were amazing! It seems that Magic Cookie Bars are limited only by one’s imagination.

Magic Cookie Bars

A Final Note: Not everyone calls these bars Magic Cookie Bars. Sometimes they are called Seven Layer Bars, Hello Dollies, Coconut Dream Bars or Screaming Eagles. I call them delicious!

Rhubarb Whipped Cream Pie — 1966

“Pies, plain old fruit pies anyway, were not In during the Sixties: too simple, too old-fashioned, too uncreative. But there was a class of pie that a modern gal could serve and still be considered a go-go gourmet. These acceptably chic pies almost always had a crushed graham cracker or cookie crust and were fill with ice cream, or pudding, or gelatin mixed with something sweet and creamy.” ~Sylvia Lovegren, Fashionable Food Seven Decades of Food Fads 1995

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While researching twentieth-century cookbooks for my blog post Rhubarb’s Reign, I discovered a “lost” sixties-chic recipe for Rhubarb Whipped Cream Pie in The American Woman’s Cook Book 1966 containing then trendy ingredients including gelatin and heavy whipped cream in a crumb crust. The resulting refrigerator pie smacked of tangy rhubarb mellowed by the rich smoothness of  whipped cream. The crunch of the graham cracker crumbs added a good textural contrast. Rhubarb Whipped Cream Pie is a delightfully retro alternative to traditional rhubarb pie — delicious on a hot summers day.

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The recipe for Rhubarb Whipped Cream Pie, suggests a Cereal Flake (corn flake) Pie Shell, I opted for the now classic graham cracker crumb crust called Crumb Pie Shell (above) included in the same chapter as the pie. The crumb mixture was easy to work with, kept its shape and held together well, however, it was a little too sweet for modern tastes. Next time I would add maybe half the sugar called for to cut down on the sweetness.

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While preparing the filling for Rhubarb Whipped Cream Pie (recipe above), I took a gamble and modernized the amount of unflavored gelatin in the recipe to coincide with the product packaging that is available now: instead of two tablespoons of gelatin, I used two packets (each packet equaling about 2 teaspoons) of Knox unflavored gelatin. In spite of this adjustment, the pie maintained a good set.

Like the crumb crust, the rhubarb filling ended up being very sweet. A full cup of sugar was more than the filling needed, nevertheless tartness in varieties of rhubarb vary so the amount of sweetener added is best left up to the cook. Next time I would start with 2/3 cup sugar and work my way up from there, tasting as I go.

My final adjustment to the recipe was to stabilize the heavy cream before whipping by blending two tablespoons of mascarpone cheese into the cream on a low speed before whipping at a higher speed. The combination of gelatin in the filling and the stabilized whipped cream kept the filling firm and the crust crunchy for several days. I would definitely make Rhubarb Cream Pie again. Enjoy!

 

Whipped Cream

“Life is SO much better with whipped cream on top.” ~Unknown

close up photo of pumpkin pie with whipped cream
Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

It turns out that Whipped Cream has been around for a long time. Records show that the Italians were whipping cream in the mid-1500s, with the French not too far behind. Evidently cooks used a handful of twigs or thin branches to form a primitive sort of whisk with which to whip the cream. As time went by, wire whisks became the tool of choice. Eventually whisks morphed into rotary beaters, and those beaters evolved into electric mixers. Recently, I read about an innovative family that  puts cream, sugar and vanilla into an air-tight container and lets the children shake their “whipped” cream.

Rich, Aged and Chilled

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The American Woman’s Cook Book 1966

The American Woman’s Cook Book 1966 gives a basic formula for whipped cream success: Rich, Aged and Chilled. Rich refers to the level of butterfat in the cream to be whipped. The higher the fat content, the more stable the whipped cream. Heavy whipping cream, as regulated by the FDA must contain 36 — 40% butterfat. Regular whipping cream contains 30 — 35%.  Light cream comes in at 18 — 30% , and Half and Half contains only 11 — 18%. By comparing the levels of butterfat, it becomes apparent that heavy cream and regular whipping cream are suitable for making whipped cream, whereas, light cream and Half and Half are mainly coffee creamers. (Incidentally, heavy whipping cream is a better option in cooking as well — think of alfredo sauce or scalloped potatoes — as it is less likely to separate or curdle with its high fat content).

The American Woman’s Cook Book 1966 continues to point out:

“Cream must be ‘aged’ [24 hours] to produce lactic acid. The acid thickens the cream”.

Watkins Cook Book 1948 also calls for “day-old” cream for whipping. However, in the twenty-first century, cream is now ULTRA-pasteurized, meaning that dairy products are quickly heated to 280*F (as opposed to traditional pasteurization of 161*F). This higher temperature extends the shelf-life of dairy products, but causes the cream to become more difficult to whip. To offset this, processors add stabilizers to the cream to help make it whip-able again. And unlike the days of family farms and local creameries, the time it takes these days for milk to go from producer to processor to consumer, the cream has already “aged”.

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As far as the chilling goes, everyone knows that the cream must be thoroughly chilled. Nearly all twentieth-century whipped cream recipes suggested chilling the beaters and the bowl as well, warning that the warmer the cream gets the more likely it is to churn to butter. Joy of Cooking 1985 warns home cooks to begin whipping cream on low and to increase the speed only to medium-high as the mixture thickens. Beating cream on HIGH creates friction which warms and softens the butterfat resulting in a softer set. With all this fuss, its no wonder whipped cream from a spray can has become so popular. However, I’m sure most home cooks would agree that a homemade dessert deserves homemade whipped cream.

Stabilization

Home cooks of today want their whipped cream to be soft and billowy, yet sturdy and long lasting. Our twentieth-century grandmothers were no different. While researching, I found several interesting suggestions to extend the life of whipped cream:

cookbook 006Modern Meal Maker 1939 includes a recipe for Whipped Cream Sauce (above) which suggests folding a stiffly beaten egg white into a cup of sweetened whipped cream.

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Watkins Cook Book 1948 offers two stabilizing suggestions (above). The first recipe says to dissolve a teaspoon of unflavored gelatin in a tablespoon of water and to add it to a pint of whipped cream. The second recipe calls for an eighth teaspoon of Cream of Tartar to be whipped with a cup of cream. These suggestions may seem a little antiquated, but many home cooks of today still use them. A more modern suggestion comes from Cooking from Quilt Country 1989 — a teaspoon of light corn syrup per cup of heavy cream. (My recipe for Whipped Cream, including a “magical” stabilizing ingredient is posted below).

Flavorings

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A lot of things can be said about twentieth-century home cooks — hard working, industrious, dedicated — but creative must top the list. I am amazed with how many different ways cooks elevated humble whipped cream. Sweeteners ran the gamut from powdered sugar to honey, jam, jelly or marmalade, brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup and molasses. Recipes included almond extract or flavored liqueurs in the cream. Fresh or frozen fruit purees, orange juice (I must say, adding liquid ingredients to the cream seems risky to me), crushed fresh berries, chopped nuts, including pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, toasted coconut or almond paste were all suggested add-ins. Crushed candy, such as nut brittle and mints were listed. Instant coffee, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate sauce were included as well. The American Woman’s Cook Book 1966 published the most unusual whipped cream recipe of all. Flavored with salt and sprinkled with paprika and finely chopped parsley, it is recommended as a simple garnish for soup. I have never tasted whipped cream flavored with anything but sugar and vanilla. Its obvious that I have been missing out!

What is a Dover

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While doing research for this post, I found instructions for making whipped cream in my grandmother’s The Household Searchlight Recipe Book 1944 that calls for a particular tool that I had never heard of — a “dover”. So I turned to the internet to learn that “Dover” is a brand of cast iron egg beater manufactured by the Dover Stamping Company located in New Hampshire at the turn of the last century. Dover beaters were so popular that they became synonymous with all rotary egg beaters, (similar to “Kleenex” in referring to any brand of facial tissue) and folks just called them “dovers”.   Interestingly, in my collection of vintage kitchen utensils, I found a cast iron egg beater (above). Now I know it is a Dover!

Stabilized Whipped Cream

cookbook 003As promised, I have included my recipe for whipped cream (below) along with the “magical” stabilizing ingredient — mascarpone cheese. In the article above it was mentioned that the higher the fat content the more stable the whipped cream, so by adding additional fat (mascarpone cheese) it stays whipped longer. Fortunately mascarpone has a mild taste so it won’t over-shadow the addition of creative flavorings. This is my go-to recipe every time I make whipped cream, and I also use it for frosting cakes. If refrigerated, the “frosting” will stay fluffy 24 — 48 hours. Enjoy!

Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 2 Tbsp powdered confectioners sugar (or to taste)
  • Speck of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Chill mixing bowl and beaters in refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.
  2. Place mascarpone cheese in chilled bowl, mix on low  for a few seconds.
  3. Continue mixing on low and gradually add heavy whipping cream. Sprinkle in powdered sugar and salt, increasing speed gradually as mixture thickens. Blend in vanilla extract.
  4. Whip until soft peaks form (at this point it can be used as a topping), or continue whipping until stiff peaks form (to be used as frosting), being careful not to over-mix.

P.S. A couple years ago, I was having guests over for a meal. In a rush, I over-whipped my cream and it started to turn to butter. I didn’t have a Plan B for dessert, so I used it anyway to frost my Banana Poppy Seed Cake. Everyone complimented me on the delicious dessert. Whew! I got lucky.

Recipe Compliments of cookbooklady.com

 

Strawberry Shortcake

“The minute the biscuit is taken from the oven, it is slathered with butter, and partially crushed berries are ladled over the hot wedges.” ~Marcia Adams, Cooking from Quilt Country 1989

Picking Strawberries

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Freshly Picked Strawberries

When I was growing up, my family lived not too far from a U-pick strawberry farm. Each year around the first of June, it was tradition to drive the station wagon loaded with shallow boxes to the farm to pick berries at the crack of dawn (strawberries get warm and soft as the day wears on). We would crawl along the rows of strawberry plants filling our buckets and our bellies until we had gathered eight or ten or twelve gallons. We gently emptied the buckets into our boxes, spreading the berries out in a single layer to prevent them from getting mashed. The car smelled of damp earth and warm strawberries as we hurried home to begin our jam making enterprise. For dessert that night there would be Strawberry Shortcake.

My mother was a cake person, as opposed to a sweet biscuit person, so she would bake a large single-layer Hot Milk Cake as the foundation for our Strawberry Shortcake. She would crush and sweeten the berries and whip some cream. It was a fine reward for our hard work. We would eat the jam throughout the year (on homemade bread, I might add), pleased with our efforts.

As fate would have it, I married a man who was a sweet biscuit person, as opposed to a cake person, so I learned how to make sweet biscuits for the foundation of our shortcake. I picked berries each year around the first of June at the same U-pick strawberry farm, spread them out in shallow boxes and brought them home to make jam. For dessert that night I would invite the in-laws over for Strawberry Shortcake, with biscuits, sweetened berries and plenty of whipped cream.

Last year, to change things up, I made a Hot Milk Cake as the foundation for our Strawberry Shortcake. (Sadly the strawberry farmer got old and sold his farm, so I bought my berries from the store). I crushed and sweetened the strawberries and made some whipped cream. When I served dessert, I learned something about myself — I am a sweet biscuit person. (Its important to know these things).

Shortening

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Butter, Lard and Shortening

Shortcake biscuits usually call for shortening so I did some research on this twentieth-century kitchen staple: The production and sale of vegetable shortening began early in the 1900s as a substitute for lard which could not be produced fast enough to meet America’s demand. Butter was also used in baking,  but it couldn’t keep up with the demand either. Thus, prices for lard and butter went higher and higher. Producers of shortening advertised that not only is shortening less expensive, but it also created a better baked product. Shortening was even touted as being as healthful as olive oil. American home cooks were sold.

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For All Shortening and Frying Use COTTOLENE

Interestingly, my oldest twentieth-century cook book, 52 Sunday Dinners 1913, is sponsored by a shortening production company — Cottolene, and it contains a classic recipe for Strawberry Shortcake (below):

 

 

 

 

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Strawberry Shortcake

The shortcake dough is made in typical biscuit fashion, however,  I was interested to discover a “lost” method of creating double-decker biscuits:

“divide the [biscuit] dough into two equal parts, roll each piece [in]to [a round] one-half inch thickness; lay one piece on a buttered jelly cake pan, brush over with soft  butter, and place remaining piece on top. Bake in hot oven”. Voila! Double-decker shortcakes.

For the assembly, the large biscuit is turned out onto a platter, separated, buttered again (gotta love all that butter) and the bottom layer is covered with strawberries. The other biscuit is placed back on top, layered with berries, sprinkled with sugar and “masked” (not sure what masked means) with orange flavored whipped cream. Fancy and delicious!

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Strawberry Mixture — Two Ways

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Sprinkle Strawberries with Sugar

To prepare the strawberries for shortcake, the recipe (above) offers two suggestions. The first starts with washing, hulling and slicing or lightly crushing the berries. They are then sweetened with a simple syrup made from two cups sugar and one-half cup water, boiled together for four minutes. This boiling method is sure to dissolve all the sugar crystals so there is no surprising crunch in the strawberry mixture. The second suggestion is the way I have always done it — sprinkle sugar over prepared berries, stir to combine and let stand for an hour to allow the sugar to thoroughly dissolve.

More Double-Deckers

Still curious about double-decker shortcakes, I wanted to find out if this concept was unique to one particular cookbook, or if they were featured in other cookbooks as well.

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Biscuit Short Cake

In my 1944 The Household Searchlight Recipe Book, the instructions for Biscuit Short Cake (above) say to combine the biscuit ingredients and roll into a quarter-inch thickness. Different from the recipe above, these will be individual double-decker biscuits, as opposed to a full round. The rolled dough is cut with a floured cutter, then half the biscuits are spread with butter and placed on a baking sheet. The other half of the biscuits are placed on top of their buttered partners, brushed with butter themselves, then popped into a hot oven.

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Watkins Cook Book 1948

Inside an old battered copy of the Watkins Cook Book 1948 is a recipe for Strawberry (Biscuit) Shortcake.  This recipe (below) also says to roll the biscuit dough into a quarter-inch thickness and cut into individual shortcakes, stack two together with butter between and bake.

 

 

 

 

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Strawberry (Biscuit) Shortcake

Across the page from Strawberry (Biscuit) Shortcake is a Sponge Cake recipe (below), said to be, “An excellent cake to serve with… strawberries or sliced peaches and whipped cream”. Finally, a nod to the cake-loving people. (By the way, sliced fresh peaches sweetened with a little sugar over cake or rich biscuits makes an excellent shortcake)!

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Sponge Cake

Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book 1950 and Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book  1953 both have recipes for double-decker shortcakes as well. I just don’t know how this method became “lost” as it appears to have been the standard way of making shortcake for some time.

Old-Fashioned

I got a tickle out of the Betty Crocker Cook Book’s 1950 introduction to Strawberry Shortcake:

“The good old-time American dessert…still first choice”

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Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake 1939

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Crescent Creations 1935

Modern Meal Maker 1939, titled its recipe Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake. In a charming 1935 recipe booklet named Crescent Creations, was yet another recipe for  Old-Fashioned Shortcake. If shortcake was old-fashioned in 1935, what would we call it today? Let’s just call it delicious.

Speaking of old-fashioned, in The Searchlight Household Recipe Book 1944, the recipe for Biscuit Short Cake  was found in the Pudding section. Americans haven’t called dessert “pudding” for over 200 years. What were they thinking?!

Versatile and Adaptable

Two great characteristics not only for humans, but also for our ideas and inventions, is the ability to be versatile and adaptable. The concept of Strawberry Shortcake is just that. Start with freshly baked cake or biscuits, adapt the recipe to the fruit in season and a home cook can create a variety of  shortcakes. This concept of versatility was demonstrated throughout my twentieth-century cookbooks.

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Mixed Fruit for Shortcake

I have already touched on Peach Shortcake which was the alternative most frequently mentioned throughout my research. Not surprisingly, many varieties of berries were recommended — raspberries, blackberries and cooked blueberries. A number of fruit combinations were suggested as well: crushed raspberries with diced oranges, sliced bananas with strawberries, rhubarb with pineapple, raspberries with pineapple, and a mixture of cranberries, apple and crushed pineapple.  Finally, the two ideas that seem really unusual were apricot shortcake and applesauce shortcake. Hmmm. Maybe with lots of whipped cream they would be okay.

Thanks for joining me on my shortcake adventure. Below is my mother’s old-fashioned Hot Milk Cake recipe and the recipe that I use for sweet biscuits. This year I’m going to make them double-decker with plenty of butter. Enjoy!

Old-Fashioned Hot Milk Cake

  • Servings: 8-9
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cake flour (all-purpose flour will work in a pinch)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Dash salt

  • 1/2 cup milk, scalded
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*.
  2. Grease and flour a 9″ round (or square) cake pan or line with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. In a small sauce pan, scald milk. Add butter and vanilla; set aside.
  5. Using an electric mixer, blend eggs until thick and foamy, about three minutes. Continue mixing while gradually adding sugar, about three minutes more.
  6. Add flour mixture  alternately with scalded milk, mixing after each addition.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 30 — 35 minutes. Allow cake to cool 15 minutes before removing from pan.

Note: This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9″X13″ or two layer cake pans. If using 9″X13″ pan, increase baking time by several minutes.

Recipe Compliments of cookbooklady.com

Shortcake Biscuits

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup (1 cube) butter, frozen

  • 1/2 cup half and half cream
  • 1 egg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450*.
  2. In a large, bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Cut frozen butter into thin slices, add to flour mixture and cut with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.
  4. Measure the half and half cream into a small bowl, add egg and blend with a fork; set aside.
  5. Create a “well” in the center of the flour and butter mixture. Pour cream and egg mixture into the “well”. Stir with a fork until mixture begins to form a ball.
  6. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead 8 — 10 strokes. Roll to a half-inch thickness and cut with a 2-1/2″ — 3″ lightly floured cutter. Place biscuits on an ungreased or parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake biscuits for 10 — 15 minutes at 450* or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush lightly with melted butter if desired.

Recipe Compliments of cookbooklady.com

 

 

 

Rhubarb’s Reign

The coronation of young Queen Victoria of England in 1837 was a time of national celebration. British subjects of every class wanted to have a piece of the event. Manufacturers, having anticipated the forthcoming fervor, produced everything from pins to dinnerware as souvenirs.  A horticultural commemorative was also announced at that time — a newly developed variety of rhubarb, dubbed Victoria Rhubarb in honor of the new queen herself. Said to be easy to grow,  sweet, tender and flavorful, gardeners and dessert makers went wild! As a result, rhubarb reigned supreme in English kitchens throughout Victoria’s lifetime and is still highly regarded.

America’s Pie Plant

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Rhubarb aka Pie Plant

Meanwhile, as the British Victorians were adding rhubarb to every dish sweet or savory, Americans too were growing and cooking with rhubarb. The humble “pie plant”, a faithful perennial, has been growing  in America’s gardens for hundreds of years, spreading its broad green leaves in the spring sunshine shading slender red/green stalks beneath. One of the earliest “fruits” from the garden (packed with vitamin C), home cooks were glad to have something fresh to put on the table. Needing plenty of sugar to offset its tartness, rhubarb is most often associated with desserts — typically pie.

 In perusing the indexes of my twentieth-century cookbooks, I was astounded to discover that a number of books featured over one hundred variations of pie, including several types of rhubarb pie. It’s very apparent that Americans are fond of pie, but in order to have pie, one must also have good pastry, and it turns out there has been a British influence in our pastry making as well.

From Lard to Butter

For generations, home cooks, including my grandmothers, have used lard (rendered pig fat) — leaf lard to be specific (a higher quality of fat found near the kidneys) —  to make pastry. It is reputed to make the most tender and flaky pie crusts attainable, however, its apparent that lard has been falling out of favor as only one (Joy of Cooking 1985) of a dozen or so twentieth-century cookbooks listed lard as a fat option. Almost all the other pastry recipes called for shortening to be gently worked into the flour with the fingertips or to be cut in using a pastry cutter or two knives scissor-fashion. Several cookbooks included a pastry option made with vegetable oil as opposed to solid shortening. Joy of Cooking 1985 also offered a more modern take on pastry calling for butter in place of some of the shortening (using all butter in pastry is trending at the present time). A few other unusual pastry additions that I came across were lemon juice, vinegar, white wine, an egg, milk instead of water, boiling water instead of ice water and — most surprisingly — baking powder.

Secret Ingredient

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Royal Baking Powder Cook Book (Publication Date Unknown)

In a cookbook pamphlet put out by the Royal Baking Powder Company, publication date unknown, I discovered a recipe for Plain Pastry (above) calling for one teaspoon of baking powder to be sifted in with the flour and salt. A paragraph at the top of the page (also above) explains why baking powder should be add to the pastry — “baking powder added to pastry will help to make it light and flaky”. Thinking that this was just a quirky idea put out by a baking powder company, I was quite surprised to find it again in my 1913 Fifty-Two Sunday Dinners Cook Book. I then discovered an English Pastry recipe in Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book 1950 that also calls for baking powder. Evidently the idea of using baking powder to make the perfect pie crust comes from across the pond. I don’t know if British home cooks still use it, but in America, I think baking powder in pastry is mostly “lost”.

Types of Rhubarb Pie

While researching, I categorized rhubarb pie into three general types: traditional Rhubarb Pie containing rhubarb cut in small pieces, sweetened with plenty of sugar, thickened with flour, cornstarch or tapioca, a pinch of salt and a pat of butter; secondly, Rhubarb Custard Pie containing the above ingredients, as well as, two or three eggs lightly beaten, a little milk or cream and a dash of nutmeg; and then thirdly — a combination Rhubarb Pie — similar to the traditional pie but filled with a mixture of rhubarb and another fruit such as strawberries, blueberries or pineapple. Yes, I found recipes with each of these combinations.

An Unusual Combination

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Rhubarb (Raisin) Pie with Cracker Crumbs

Speaking of combination pies, the most unusual Rhubarb Pie recipe appears in my grandmother’s The Household Searchlight Recipe Book 1944 (above). The recipe was sent in by a subscriber of Household Magazine and was included in their cookbook. It seems to be a combination of Rhubarb Pie and Raisin Pie. I like rhubarb and I like raisins, but combined? Not so much! And oddly, its thickened with cracker crumbs. Are we talking saltines here or graham cracker crumbs? I just don’t know. The other thing I wonder is why are there smudges on this page. My grandmother owned this cookbook her whole adult life so they would have happened in her kitchen. Did she try this rhubarb/raisin concoction?!  I wonder if my grandfather liked it. Would I like some? No, thank you.

Recipe Found

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Rhubarb Whipped Cream Pie

On the opposite end of the Rhubarb Pie spectrum is a recipe I am dying to try: Rhubarb Whipped Cream Pie (above) found in the newest of my old cookbooks — The American Woman’s Cook Book 1966. Not a typical baked two-crust pie, it is a sort of cream-pie-meets-ice-box pie with a crumb crust. To begin the filling, the recipe calls for stewed rhubarb which is simply chopped rhubarb and sugar simmered with a few tablespoons of water until the rhubarb is just tender. Unflavored gelatin is then added to lend stability to the filling. When the cooked mixture is cooled, the heavy cream is whipped and gently folded into the stewed rhubarb. The luscious mixture is spooned into a nine-inch crumb pie shell and refrigerated until firmly set. You will notice that the recipe calls for a Cereal Flake Pie Shell. This is simply crushed cornflakes made into a pie crust similar to a graham cracker crumb crust which could easily be substituted. It is really too bad that this recipe has become “lost” over the years. I plan to give it a try when my rhubarb comes on. I’ll get back to you. (I tried the recipe for Rhubarb Whipped Cream Pie! Here are my results).

I hope you have enjoyed our cookbook journey. Below is the Rhubarb Custard Pie recipe that I have used for nearly forty years. It is my husband’s favorite. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Custard Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Pastry for a 9″ double crust pie

  • 4 cups rhubarb, cut in 1″ pieces

  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Dash of salt

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 Tbsp butter

Directions

  1. Adjust rack to lower half of oven and preheat to 400*.
  2. Prepare pastry for a  double crust pie. Line a 9″ pie plate with bottom pastry and roll out top crust; set aside.
  3. Wash rhubarb stalks, wipe dry and cut into 1″ pieces; set aside.
  4. In a medium-size bowl, combine sugar, flour, nutmeg and salt; stir to combine.
  5. In a small bowl, beat eggs lightly with a fork, add to dry mixture; stir to combine. Fold in prepared rhubarb pieces.
  6. Spoon rhubarb mixture into lined pie dish, dot with butter and adjust top crust, cutting slits for steam to escape. Trim, seal and crimp edges.
  7. Bake at 400* for 50 minutes. Cover pie with foil last 10 minutes if pastry browns too quickly.

Option: Before baking, lightly brush top pastry with a little milk and sprinkle with a pinch or two of sugar to add sparkle and crunch.

Recipe Compliments of cookbooklady.com