Join me on my delicious journey revisiting American home cooking in the era before convenience foods became popular (1919 to 1955), as I bake and cook from old cookbooks and recipe cards of home cooks purchased at estate sales in Akron, Ohio, and other exotic locations.
Top 100 Cake Blog
Monday, February 22, 2010
"Better Than Sex Cake"? Not this one!
Faithful readers: I did something I said I wouldn't. I bought a recipe box on eBay, instead of discovering it serendipitiously at an estate sale or flea market.
I justified the purchase because it was the recipe collection of a southern home cook, one that I would be unlikely to encounter in my usual midwest or northeast haunts.
The box contains a lot of interesting (and very southern -- cornbread, hush puppies,sweet tea, etc.) recipes, some handwritten on yellowed slips of paper, including one I made today, Pineapple Sheath Cake (and which I'll write about soon).
But the recipe card that caught my immediate attention was entitled "Better Than Sex Cake." Now I will concede that maybe, possibly, perhaps a very, very special cake might in someone's world view be better than sex, but certainly not this cake! Its first ingredient is Duncan Hines Butter Cake mix, followed by two other offenders: instant vanilla pudding and Cool Whip! Of course it was meant tongue in cheek and was maybe a tiny bit risque at the time, among the Texas housewives who swapped this recipe. And I'm certainly the last person to discourage anyone from having fun with food (or the naming of same).
This recipe is outside of "my" era of baking, as the inclusion of convenience ingredients suggests. Most of the cards in the box are older than that, with recipes calling for real foods, like butter, flour, sugar and eggs. But it's interesting to see the progression (if that is considered "progress") of time in one homemaker's recipe box -- from cinnamon rolls made with yeast and mashed potatoes (very popular in the 1930s) to that Better Than Sex Cake that I truly hope isn't better than sex for anyone!
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Too funny! Makes you wonder what would happen if you put Bee's recipes on eBay! The one titled "Use Whatever You Want to Get Rid Of" would probably draw interest ...ReplyDelete
Margaret: I laughed so loud when I read your comment that everyone on the subway looked my way! So true about Bee's "recipe."ReplyDelete
yuck, yuck! Maybe for those women in Texas, the quicker it was over, the better, hence all the instant ingredients :)ReplyDelete
guess what -- i used to have that exact recipe box! bought that little tin when i was either in h.s. or middle school. and if i might offer a contrarian's view, i get really great reaction to cake box mixes ! i have one of those "cake doctor" recipe books which all start out with a box mix. then the doctor explains how to add other assorted ingredients. i swear to you, when i serve these cakes, people think i bought them at high-end bakeries! and yes, these are people with refined taste buds!ReplyDelete
Do I smell a bake-off between Betty and Susan? I'd be happy to be a tester!ReplyDelete
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@Betty: I'm surprised you had a recipe box in high school; I always imagined you doing a million fabulous things in Manhattan, acquiring a recipe box not among them!! I certainly welcome your contrarian view. I would not be surprised at all if, in a blind taste test, some box cakes (especially those that have been embellished) would win out over scratch cakes. (And I don't doubt for a moment that your friends have quite sophisticated palates!) For me, it's the principle of the thing and probably somewhat rebellious -- my mother worshiped at the altar of Duncan Hines and refused to make scratch cakes, saying it was a waste of time. I just don't want the art of cake baking (and it's nearly as easy to make a scratch cake as it is to use a mix) to get lost. There are so many things/secrets that we've given over (or outsourced) to convenience that if suddenly everything disappeared, I fear we wouldn't know how to re-create many of the things we take for granted because we're so far removed from the source of creation and production. So for me, baking a cake from scratch is a way to maintain a connection to a primary source (for lack of a better word), to transmit culture/history through time and (most important) to avoid doing my medical newsletter freelance job!ReplyDelete
Does anyone know of a recipe my grandmother made I believe starting in the 1950s called Confetti Cake. It was a recipe she got from the Presto Flour Box and it was shaped like a high bundt cake? We have been looking for this for many years since my grandmother passed. thanksReplyDelete
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