[Historical Food Fortnightly is a year-long challenge series for those interested in historical foodways, or the study of how food, culture, and traditions have intersected throughout human history. Every fortnight a new themed challenge will be featured. As a participant, I take each challenge, select a relevant recipe, and prepare a historic dish. Please follow along, or join in yourself!]
This recipe comes from Cooking Without Mother’s Help, written by Clara Ingram Judson and published in 1920. Judson was an American children’s author, probably most famous for her Mary Jane series, but she published several cookbooks as well. Her cookbooks were aimed at children, and this one gives context to the recipes by incorporating short stories about a group of young girls.
In Lesson 5, the girls need something to bring for a class picnic. Their mother gives them a recipe for Individual Picnic Cakes and leaves them to bake the cakes by themselves. Despite the girls’ dismay about baking alone, the cakes turn out wonderfully. The lesson ends,
“Each little cake had a flourish of pretty white icing on the top, the whole dozen were wrapped in a fresh white napkin, and they looked and tasted so good that the girls wished they had made double the recipe.”
11. Picnic Foods (May 20 – June 2) Some foods are just meant to be eaten in the outdoors! Concoct a dish that is documented for al fresco dining, or foods that might particularly lend themselves to eating at a picnic. Bonus points for putting it to the test!
These cakes were rather plain. They weren’t overloaded with sugar or flavour. But…they were delicious! Somehow the simpleness of them was really quite nice. The cakes are easy to eat and not overwhemling. They taste best with the icing. Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the recipe and I’d definitely make these cakes again!
- I didn’t bother with sifting my dry ingredients.
- I used butter in the cake batter.
- I baked the cakes at 350F for 25 minutes.
- The recipe makes 12 decent sized cakes.
Clara Ingram Judson (Wikipedia)