Monday, March 4, 2013

Vintage Cookbooks

I love to bake, and since I love vintage, well, it is just a given that I love vintage cookbooks. I know that a lot of other people do, too. Years ago, I remember coming across a few blogs where the authors featured recipes that they had whipped up from vintage cookbooks and they were hilarious! Frankfurters galore! I tend to stick to the more classic recipes myself.

Sometimes using old cookbooks can be a little confusing, as terminology changes over time and ingredient availability varies as things fall out of favor.  But there are plenty of recipes out there that work just fine. For my oldest daughter's last birthday, I made a vintage cake recipe from one of my old cookbooks. The cake was so uniquely rich and delicious that my younger daughter requested it for her birthday. Equally delightful. Unfortunately, now I can't remember which cookbook it came from so I cannot repeat the success anytime soon!

I love this 1930 cookbook from my collection that originally belonged to my grandmother and then my mother.

I have never attempted anything out of it, but it is chock full of delicious sounding things like Tea Cakes, Soft Molasses Gingerbread, French Ice-Cream and Sweet-Milk Doughnuts. It also has tucked into its yellowed pages two little treasures, an untitled recipe for what appears to be a cherry pie filling written in a very young version of my mother's perfect handwriting and this romantic note from my father to my mother:

It reads: Welcome Home, We all miss you esp. me the coffee pot. This is exactly what my coffee pot says whenever my husband is out of town. For someone who loves to cook and is fairly decent at it, I can't make a good pot of coffee to save the world!

For Christmas, my in-laws gave me the book Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson. I want to make every recipe in it, but so far I've only tried the "Pink Cake." It was absolutely amazing, even though I couldn't bring myself to use the full-fat sour cream that the recipe called for, not when I'd already added six eggs and a half cup of oil. Still, it was indescribably light and delightfully chocolatey, a perfect chocolate cake. Thankfully, we are now into my family's birthday season, so I have plenty of reasons to be baking decadent layer cakes for the next six months. And even more thankfully, our birthday season corresponds with nicer weather, so we can burn off all those celebratory calories with family walks around the neighborhood.

As for decorating cakes, that is a skill I have yet to master. I finally have embraced the "crumb coat" method and I must admit that while it does take longer to do an additional layer of icing, the results speak for themselves. No longer do I have to cover up all my mistakes and break-through crumbs with lots and lots of sprinkles while publicly blaming the kids for the overzealous decoration. Now, my cakes have nice, smooth icing and noticeably fewer sprinkles. I'm still working on decorative ribbons, flowers and bows, though. Luckily for me, I've picked up a number of vintage cake decorating tool kits over the years so I have just the right equipment with which to practice!

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