Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sweet Treats for Valentine's Day...Made with Old-Fashioned Love

Served with Love

Old-Fashioned Desserts

by Christina Cole

I love cooking, and whenever Valentine's Day draws nigh, my thoughts go to sweet desserts. Today, I'm sharing a few treats that will take you back in time. Cooking from scratch isn't as easy as opening a can or popping a tray into a microwave. Women in the west didn't have the same modern conveniences we know today. Just heating up the old woodstove and trying to maintain the proper temperature could be a terrific challenge.

One problem I've discovered in adapting old recipes is that the ingredients used aren't always ones on our grocer's shelves. Hartshorn? Salteratus? Suet? Pulverized sugar?

Another problem is that most old recipes are a bit vague. Measurements aren't exact, and since stoves and ovens varied so much, a woman had to rely on her own cooking and baking skills to determine the best heat and time.

I've chosen recipes today that modern cooks should be able to recreate with little problem. Even if the results turn out less than perfect, the love you put into these desserts will still make them sweet, indeed.

Sunshine Cake

From the Columbine Sunshine Society, How We Cook in Colorado, 1907

6 eggs, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup flour, scant 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, pinch of salt, flavor to taste.

Sift, measure, and set aside flour and sugar. Separate the eggs and add to the white 1 pinch of salt. Whip to a foam. Add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff. Add sugar and beat in, then add the well-beaten egg yolks. Flavor and beat again. Lastly, add the flour and fold lightly through. Put into a moderate oven at once and bake from 25 to 30 minutes.

Nana Faerner's Peach Ice Cream

From The Mesa Worker's Cook Book, 1897

3 pounds ripe peaches, cut and mash, and put through colander; sweeten peaches to taste. 1 pint cream, 1 quart milk. Beat 2 eggs and stir with other ingredients. Freeze until hard.

Grandmother's Sugar Cookies

From Recipes of the First Congregational Church, Colorado Springs, 1920.

2 eggs, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup butter, 1 cup sour milk, 2 teaspoonsful soda, 1 teaspoonful baking power, 4 cups flour, over one-half nutmeg (I take this to mean slightly more than 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg), 1 teaspoon vanilla. Roll and sprinkle top of dough with sugar and cinnamon mixed. Bake in moderately hot oven.

Contributed by Mrs. Cynthia Wynne (Born 1831)

Economical Pudding

From Darley Family Papers, 1860s

Keep your pieces of bread and dry them nice. When enough are collected, soak them in milk overnight. In the morning, drain out all the milk you can through a cullander. Add to the bread some sugar and a little salt, with some scalded raisins. Tie it in a bag, and boil for 5 or 6 hours. Serve with sweet sauce.

Very Nice Pudding Sauce

From The Capitol Cook Book, 1899

Beat the yolk of 1 egg with 1/2 cup white sugar and 1 tablespoon of conrstarch. Stir in 3 tablespoonsful boiling water; set it over a teakettle to keep warm. Just as you take it to the table, stir in lightly the white of egg beaten with other 1/2 cup of sugar, a little nutmeg, and a spoonful of brandy or wine.

I hope you enjoy these old-fashioned treats. I have many more recipes from historical cookbooks, so if you're looking for something in particular that I can help you with, please email me. You can reach me at CCole@christinacoleromance.com.


Caroline Clemmons said...

I remember my grandmother making a 1-2-3 cake that was so good. I tried duplicating her instructions, but mine didn't taste as good as hers. She used Swan's cake flour in her cakes.

Christina Cole said...

I used to do a lot of baking, and Swan's Cake Flour was a must-have. Now, I bake sweets only for very special occasions. I do love collecting recipes from different times and places. For me, it really helps bring history to life.