Top 100 Cake Blog

Top 100 Cake Blog

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Luella Walters Everyday Cookies



Luella Walters is right -- these cookies could be eaten every day, as they are truly delicious and worth every calorie.  Other than that, I have no idea why Ms. Walters bequeathed them such a name. They have rice krispies and coconut, two ingredients I don't consider "every day" ones. They are also unusual in that they call for both butter AND oil -- and plenty of both.  And, typical of vintage recipes, these aren't overly sweet. but still rather addicting. In fact, this is one of the few things I've baked that I, ahem, overindulged in. 

These cookies are very easy to make. The recipe, on two cards, is little more than a list of ingredients. Perhaps the third card got lost? In any event, I've written my method at the end of the post. This recipe makes a lot of cookies.

Start by combining the sugars and butter.



Add the eggs.



Add the oil and beat well, until the batter is smooth.



If you're like me, you'll be gathering ingredients as you go (not recommended; it's better to assemble everything before starting the recipe). But while the oil blended in, I combines the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and added to the mixture.  As that is combining, prepare the add-ins -- coconut, rice krispies and chopped nuts.  Add them to the batter.



At this point, I popped the dough into the fridge for a couple of hours to run some errands.  This will firm up the dough so it's easier to work with, but not necessary if you're in a rush for the cookies.  With a small cookie scoop, or your hands, form small balls and place them on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Reuse the parchment for all of the batches.



Pull from the oven after about 15 minutes or so, depending on your oven temperature. The bottoms should be lightly browned, and the tops will appear somewhat loose.



After a few minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool.



Ms. Walter's recipe below, and below that, the method I used.





Luella Walters Everyday Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 F (if you're baking immediately; or 20 minutes before baking)

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter (two sticks, softened)
2 eggs
1 cup Wesson or Crisco oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/8 cup rolled oats
1 cup rice krispies
1 cup sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans are good)

Blend sugars and butter until well combined.
Add eggs and blend.
Add oil and beat well, so mixture doesn’t separate.
Add vanilla.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar in a separate bowl, and add to mixture.
Add the oats, rice krispies, coconut and nuts.
Blend well.
You can refrigerate dough
Form golf-ball sized balls of dough and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake 12 to 16 minutes, depending on your oven.
Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to wire racks.
These will keep a long time (but they’ll be long gone before then).

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fresh Corn Fritters



Do you have fear of frying? I overcame mine a few years ago with some -- as it turned out, unnecessary -- reassurance from a nearby fire extinguisher. And a whole new world opened. Frying is easy, quick and adds so much flavor and texture to ordinary ingredients.  And by ordinary, I mean things you probably already have in your pantry or refrigerator like eggs and flour. It's a good way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into one's diet! I recently discovered two ears of corn lurking in my fridge from an overly ambitious farmer's market trip at the same time I found a vintage recipe for corn fritters. Kismet!

This recipe is from Grace Johnson, a Park Slope, Brooklyn, resident, whose wonderful 1940s handwritten book of recipes I purchased from a stoop sale a few years ago.  You can read her story here.

These are light, fluffy and savory fritters. Really, really good. (And you can whip them up in a jiffy when a friend unexpectedly rings your doorbell on Sunday night -- see end of post.)



Begin by organizing your ingredients.  Beat the egg, mix in the milk and other ingredients.


It will seem like there's not enough liquid, but there will be.  Add the corn in last.



Drop the batter by teaspoon...



...into the hot oil. Fry until golden on one side.


Then flip the fritters over using a slotted spoon, or even a fork.



I've included the original recipe, and then thoughtfully wrote it out (you're welcome).




Corn Fritters

1 egg
1 cup milk (divided)
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups whole kernel corn (about two ears)
1 tablespoon liquid shortening (melted butter)
Oil for frying (depending on the size of your frying pan*)

In a bowl, beat the egg.
Stir in ½ cup milk.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add to egg-milk mixture.
Add remaining ½ cup milk.
Add the melted butter and corn.
Mix well.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. When very hot (you can take its temperature or just drop a bit of batter in to test).
Drop the batter by tablespoons into the hot oil.
When golden brown on one side, flip over to continue cooking. (Use a fork or slotted spoon).
Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

*Grace recommends starting with three tablespoons of oil, and replacing when necessary. I think it’s better to do this once – add oil so it rises an inch or more from the bottom of the pan. This way, you need not keep waiting for the new oil to reach temperature. You can always strain the used oil through a cheesecloth to reuse.

Our friend Alec, below, with a plate of corn fritters. He bicycled over on his hand-built bamboo bike just in time for dinner! Hmmmm.....



Sunday, October 7, 2018

Amish Chocolate Flat Cake



About a decade ago, I was asked to bring a birthday cake to my dear (and now sadly departed) friend Suzanne Wasserman's 50th birthday party at the Bridge Cafe. So I baked a nine-inch red velvet layer cake. Imagine my dismay when I arrived at the party and realized that this single cake would need to feed about 40 guests.  (I had another frosted cake at home -- I was selling them at the time and always made two -- but couldn't convince my teenage son to bring it to the restaurant.) Throughout the dinner I fretted about the scarcity of dessert but by some absolute miracle the staff managed to carve out enough slices of decent size.

Not that I should have substituted this large flat cake (for Suzanne and her husband David loved red velvet), but I would have had a much more relaxed dinner.

This vintage recipe is from an Amish collection I purchased years ago. It's baked in an 11 x 17 inch jelly roll pan and, when baked and frosted, it's just 1/2 inch tall, hence its name. Both the cake and its frosting couldn't be easier to make and will certainly feed a large crowd.

Upon hearing the name "flat cake," the DH said I should pair it with #FlatLillian, an initiative at Henry Street Settlement, to spread the word and work of it's founder Lillian Wald by photographing her against all sorts of backdrops. Suzanne, a filmmaker and historian, studied the Lower East Side and was one of Lillian's biggest fans.


#Flat Lillian with the frosted chocolate flat cake.


This is a very, very simple cake to make done on the stovetop and in a bowl. No heavy machinery needed.  Melt the butter, water, and cocoa in a saucepan.


Pour the mixture into a bowl and add in the dry ingredients. Stir or whisk to combine.



Add in the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and baking soda, whisking them together them first.



Pour the cake into a greased jelly roll pan. I sprayed the pan with Pam, then laid a sheet of parchment over to ensure an easy release.



The unfrosted cake.



While the cake is in the oven, begin the frosting. Boil butter, cocoa and buttermilk, then add in confectioner's sugar, nuts, vanilla and salt.



Frost the cake while it's still warm. You'll need an offset spatula or butter knife to spread the frosting over the cake.



Henry Street's Executive Director David Garza, a real #FlatLillian champion, eating the cake (even though he's not supposed to, so don't tell anyone).


Production notes: I followed the recipe exactly, except I substituted butter for the Crisco.  The Amish, rather thrifty folk, probably wanted to save some money.  I wasn't sure if the cake should be warm, or just the frosting, so I made sure both were warm when I frosted it.  You'd be fine with a cool cake and warm frosting. If you don't have buttermilk, you can make your own by mixing some white vinegar in regular milk and having it stand for a few minutes.  The amount of salt in the frosting should be a pinch -- it won't taste salty, but will add a depth of flavor.  Chop the nuts on the finer side.




Sunday, September 23, 2018

Ozark Pie



Are you watching season two of Netflix's Ozark?  I am, sort of. It's so contrived and crazy, but hard to get off the rollercoaster. The lives of Marty (Jason Bateman) and Wendy (Laura Linney) are so frenetic and stressful, one wonders why criminals (most of whom are very smart) just don't get regular jobs.

Ozark Pie (probably named for the geographic region of its origin) is a simple apple confection, and not really a pie at all. It's just that it's baked in a pie plate.  It is more than the sum of its parts. Favorite son-in-law loved the brown sugar -- but there's no brown sugar. It's just that the white sugar caramelizes so beautifully. It is really delicious, uses ingredients you probably already have and so easy to make. I'll bet it's something that Ozark's Ruth (or more likely her grandmother -- this is a vintage recipe ) would whip up in a minute.



The mis en place is below.  Cinnamon, egg, vanilla, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, nuts and apples.



I love recipes where one is instructed to dump everything in a bowl and mix. Not only is it easy, but clean up is a snap.  For this, first beat the egg in the bowl, and add all the other ingredients (save the nuts and apples).



The mixture will be very thick.



Add the nuts and apples. It will seem that there's insufficient batter to cover these, but worry not.



See? Everything is beautifully coated.



Dump the entire mixture into a pie pan. I didn't grease the pan but you can give it a spray of PAM, mostly to aid clean up.  I used an 8-inch pie plate.



Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, depending on your oven.  As you can see below, the "slices" are removed from the pan like pie, but will not hold their shape when plated.



Vintage recipe card below. I followed the instructions exactly. I used two large Cortland apples, and about a cut of walnuts, and one teaspoon of cinnamon.  But you can add more or less of these, depending on taste. I baked it for 35 minutes.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Apple Fritters



Until a few days ago, I was an apple fritter virgin. Seriously, I'd never tasted one, always pointing to Boston creme or glazed donuts at the donut shop.  But looking to turn my surplus of new crop apples into something yummy, I decided to try my hand at these treats. I was delighted to discover how easy and delicious they are -- the gratification is nearly instant!

These are old-fashioned, modest fritters. There is but one tablespoon of sugar in the entire recipe; the sweetness is derived from the apples.

The DH, an apple fritter lover from way back, prefers the supersized and frosted apple fritters that gained popularity in America along with so many "over the top" versions of almost everything.  (Note: you can make these larger and frost them, but I wanted to prepare the recipe in the spirit in which it was intended.)

This is a very simple c. 1940s recipe, part of a collection I purchased at a stoop sale in Park Slope. It uses ingredients you probably already have (see the mis en place below) and take just minutes to prepare.



Mix the ingredients together in a single bowl.



Add the sliced apples.



Mix them in thoroughly. It will seem like there's not enough batter to cover the apples (there is) but that's the point -- the apples are the stars in this confection.



Drop by tablespoon into hot vegetable or canola oil, turning a few times until the fritters are golden brown.



Drain on paper towels...



...and, using a sieve, sprinkle them with confectioner's sugar.



What's inside



The Executive Record and Travel Guide in which the recipe author (Grace Johnson, a woman who lived on 10th Street) recorded all of her recipes. You can read the story of Grace and her neighbor Jackie, who hosted the stoop sale, here.



The original recipe. Below the image, I've written out the steps more clearly.




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Apple Fritters

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup milk
1 well-beaten egg
Two medium apples, pared, cored and cut into slices

Mix all ingredients except the apples. Combine well.  Add the apples, stirring into the batter. 

Heat oil in a large (I used a 12-inch frying pan, and about 1.5 inches of oil) until hot. Temperature, if you want to measure, should be about 370 degrees.  If you don’t have a thermometer, that’s fine. Just put a small amount of batter into the oil to test.

Drop the batter into the hot oil using a regular tablespoon.  I turned them over with a fork, and when golden brown, removed them to paper towels using a slotted spoon.

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Sprinkle them with confectioner’s sugar.  Enjoy!