Tuesday, July 1, 2008

12 Cent Cake - 1914

Looking through my 1914 McCall's magazine, I see plenty of familiar culinary faces. Advertisements for brands such as Grape Nuts, Nabisco, and Quaker Oats grace the pages; and even though the styles of clothing and writing and the graphics themselves are so foreign to me, these well-known items make the world of a hundred years ago seem just a bit closer.

McCall's Magazine, March 1914

This is the cover of the March 1914 issue of McCall's magazine. I fell in love with the cover art immediately, and her ruffly white blouse and stylish red hat (and his jaunty plaid one!) transported me to a long-ago time of class and fashion.

The articles I found inside were a surprise to me. One female wife and mother spoke of fighting to keep the job she loved, that of a music teacher, even though her husband was firmly against the idea of her working outside the home. There was no happy ending; she kept her job and he reluctantly gave his okay, but in the end she writes, "Am I doing right? I know I am... And yet, deep in my woman's soul, I know I am wounding my man intensely."

I also found silly little stories that showed people have always had a sense of humor and of fun. A cute article about "Tempting the sick child to eat," has the author creating such amusing little gimmicks as a "banana animal" with a tiny hole taken out of it to put jelly in. A big fluted glass holds an ice cream cone, and boiled rice is stuffed inside in place of the ice cream.

I have included a few ads for products you will most likely recognize; just click to enlarge.

Crisco Ad, 1914

Jell-o Ad, 1914

So, after finally tearing myself away from reading, I decided to give one of the recipes a try. As I flipped through the magazine, I had constantly seen references to many of the same concerns as today - saving money, eating healthy foods, making delicious dishes that the family will enjoy. So I wanted to choose a recipe that fit into at least one of these categories. In the end, I decided on this "12 cent" cake that I found in an ad for "Wear-Ever Aluminum Utensils". Besides it being so (comparatively, by today's prices) cheap to make, it was extremely simple looking and I didn't have to buy a single ingredient.

12 cent cake recipe, 1914

Admittedly, I was a bit worried as I looked at the proportions of ingredients. I am used to creaming the sugar and butter together, but this cake only needed a single tablespoon of butter added to the cup of sugar. Then I had to add an entire cup and a half of both flour and milk! Many other recipes for muffins, etc., that I had seen from this time period listed sugar as an optional ingredient, so I was not surprised that it would not be too sweet, but as I stirred and stirred (cursing the lumps that were next to impossible to remove), I began to fear that this would taste like one big milky sponge. There was no temperature indicated, so I baked it at 350 degrees.

Unfortunately, the results were just as bad as I expected. The cake had quite a spongy texture. The best description I can come up with for the taste is raw dough in a cooked form! There were so few ingredients that I was sure I had left nothing out. It definitely is not a taste I have acquired. But for curiousity's sake, I am definitely glad I tried it. (And at least I only wasted 12 cents!) Below is the recipe exactly as it appears in the magazine.

12 cent cake - from 1914

A cake for 12 Cents

Mix 1 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon butter. Add 1 beaten egg. Then add 1 1/2 cups of milk, 1 1/2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Beat well. Grate lemon or orange in batter. Bake 30 minutes.

1 comment:

The Vintage Kitten said...
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