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Now, How About Vintage Cakes?

jmcarthur8 and Ruthie have been talking about vintage pies - anyone for vintage cakes?

These two come to mind: Sausage Cake and Seed Cake.

There is a restaurant/bakery in Minneapolis that serves "sausage bread" made with bison. This tripped a switch in my memory, and I looked up sausage cake - sure enough, there it was, with pork rather than bison, of course! Since the recipe from the restaurant has been published, it's easy to see that the recipes are virtually the same -

Here is proof that the old recipes can see a new life - and a profitable one, at that!

I would love a good English recipe for seed cake, myself.....

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  1. In Montreal there used to be a chain of Woolworth's stores and each one of them had a vintage styled restaurant counter with spinning stools and a bakery counter, that memory is forever in my mind. My mom used to purchase a cake with a brown sugar and coconut icing and it was delicious, I think it was a German chocolate cake. I hope you get a good response, I would love to see some vintage cake recipes. A slice of cake and a percolated coffee from my vintage pyrex coffee pot might be in order this weekend.

    23 Replies
    1. re: Ruthie789

      I miss Woolworth. I used to go get a giant double scoop cone for like a quarter.

      German chocolate cake is a fine example of a vintage cake.

      Do you have your little metal thing for the stove to protect your pyrex pot??

      1. re: Sal Vanilla

        No but I have it on a gas range with a small flame.

        1. re: Sal Vanilla

          I miss Woolworth`s too. It was timeless and classic and my favorite teenage hangout.

        2. re: Ruthie789

          I had two Woolworth's in my growing up-one in Oakville, ON (Hopedale Plaza) and they had that same cake that Ruthie is talking about-there was a frozen Sara Lee version that was similar). But my favourite Woolworth's was on Water Street in St. John's, NL...and there the big deal was a Boiled Raisin Cake...which, I believe is also known as a War Cake.

          I knew this NL Woolworth's very well as I worked there as my after-school job-proudly wore the blue smock and worked in the Bridal Department (I kid you not!)

          I have a recipe that I will dig out and submit to this thread as soon as the dogs get off my lap!

          1. re: LJS

            Anyone who loves dogs is going to have some great recipes...

            1. re: LJS

              My Mom used to make the boiled raison cake on special occasions. Her Mom was from Tourbay so we had many a Newfoundland meal of sorts.

              1. re: Ruthie789

                Ruthie: I grew up just down the road from Torbay-that cake recipe is a real Newfie treasure-I now live in Nova Scotia and they do a version here, but (as you will understand!)-it is not quite the same.

                1. re: LJS

                  I propose that a future thread on Newfoundland recipes is in order!

                  1. re: Ruthie789

                    Ruthie: Me buddy,me auld lass, you got yerself some fine notion there... We could have ourselves a good-old fashion Newfie Mug-Up CH style!

                    1. re: LJS

                      I am game but as you are the Newfoundler I give you the honour of starting this thread!

                      1. re: Ruthie789

                        Put your money where your mouths are, you two! I don't see a Nfld thread.

              2. re: LJS

                Sometimes the Woolworth's in our area had a "prize" gimmick: they'd blow up balloons, add a slip of paper with numbers on it, and hang them along the cafeteria wall. You'd pick any balloon, then pay the price listed on the slip instead of the menu price. Woohoo--cake for 15 cents! We thought it was great fun when we were kids.

              3. re: Ruthie789

                German Chocolate. That's a great one that you don't see very often anymore.

                One thing comes to mind at this point - generally if a recipe is pretty old I cut back on the sugar considerably, maybe 25-30%. I hate to mess with the classics, but to me they really are generally too sweet.

                What does everyone think about this? Is it O.K. to update recipes in this way?

                1. re: sandylc

                  I agree but am always hesitant to alter any recipe.I think reducing the sugar is fine but not the fat. In the old days the milk used was the 3.25% fat and I am going back to this for my baking as am finding some of my baked goods dry.

                  1. re: Ruthie789

                    I agree! Full fat all the way...!!!

                  2. re: sandylc

                    I have a copy of Jim Fobel's Old Fashioned Baking Book. He uses his grandmother's recipes for old fashioned baked goods from the '30s and writes that he needed to cut the sugar from a lot of the cakes for contemporary tastes.

                    1. re: sandylc

                      I am a recipe meddler- when it comes to sugar, I think modern tastes (and better understanding of nutrition) mean less is more. In baking, despite a need for recipe balance when it comes to fat/flour/liquid ratios, I find that you can cut back on sugar without negatively impacting flavour.

                    2. re: Ruthie789

                      Here's our family's recipe for that

                      German Chocolate Cake Frosting
                      (Coconut Pecan frosting)

                      Enough for 2-3 cake layer tops

                      1 cup sugar
                      1 cup evaporated milk
                      3 slightly beaten egg yolks
                      ½ cup butter
                      1 tsp. vanilla
                      1 1/3 cup coconut
                      1 cup chopped pecans

                      Cook and stir sugar, evaporated milk, egg yolks, butter and vanilla over medium heat until thick (about 12 minutes).

                      Remove from heat and add coconut & pecans.

                      Cool until spreadable, beat occasionally.

                      1. re: MidwesternerTT

                        That looks like a keeper, thank you for posting!

                        1. re: MidwesternerTT

                          Thank you for that-I think that may be my next cake adventure!

                      2. I think of coconut covered cakes when I think of cakes from childhood. Maybe because I dreamed of having one, but never got one.

                        I still do upside down cakes and an occasional red velvet (which seems to be enjoying a resurgence). My MIL loves war cake - which is essentially means it lacks all the things that were rationed during the war - so milk, eggs butter... but it has sugar - which was rationed. Hmmm. Maybe it is more commonly known as depression cake. Yep. I think so.

                        I don't think I have had a seed cake. Like poppyseed with lemon? I have eaten plenty of those buggers. Overly plenty.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Sal Vanilla

                          Yes coconut cake! Love it and want it for my B-Day every year, but it's tough to find a good one from a bakery.

                          Hummingbird cake is another I think of as vintage.

                          1. re: Island

                            I love hummingbird cake. Just had to get that out there.

                        2. Boiled Cake (aka War Cake)
                          Source: my Newfoundland United Church fund-raising cookbook, with my own notes

                          2 cups granulated sugar
                          1 cup butter or margarine
                          1 tsp salt
                          2 cups water
                          1tsp cinnamon
                          1tsp nutmeg
                          1 tsp allspice
                          1 cup nuts (kind is unspecified but I recall walnuts)
                          1 1/2 cups raisins
                          1 cup currants
                          1 1/2 cups chopped, seedless dates
                          1 1/2 cups mixed fruit: chopped citrus peel, candied pineapple etc

                          3 cups flour
                          1 tsp baking soda

                          Bring all ingredients EXCEPT flour and baking soda to a boil inj a large pot on top of stove.Cook for 5 full minutes.

                          Allow this mixture to cool thoroughly.

                          Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

                          Add flour and baking soda to cooled fruit mixture, stirring well.

                          Place in a greased, 10" tube pan. Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, checking after first time, using clean straw method.

                          (I recall this cake being a huge draw at church auction nights, especially when made by one of the lady's in the congregation who I suspect added a little 'nip' of her own.)

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: LJS

                              My Great-Aunt Nellie (London, ON born and bred) used to make that, and called it "War Cake".

                            2. My father's favorite birthday cake was crazy cake with seven minute icing. I haven't seen either in a looooong time. (Oh, and the crazy cake was the very dark chocolate kind, not the "crazy cake" with vinegar and other things poured down holes in the cake.)

                              1. After seeing the threads I was reminded of a cookbook I purchased some time ago called the Ministry of Food. It has recipes some of them cake from the World War 2 time. My Mom used to make a pudding or cake of sorts and boil it in a dishtowel this thread also reminded me of that. I will go through the recipes in the book and note them, think they qualify as vintage....

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Ruthie789

                                  I just went through The Ministry of Food, cakes mentionned, Fat Free Sponge Cake, The Ok Corral Birthday Cake, Princess Birthday Cake,Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Carrot Cake, Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies, Wedding Cake. Rations were limited and sources of fat including butter during World War 2,were scarce. The book has a mention of the fat being scraped off tins of ham and meats and used to make pastry. Can`t fathom myself doing this. Is it possible that vegetables like zucchini and beets in cakes helped to stretch the recipe and provide moisture and originated from hard times?

                                  1. re: Ruthie789

                                    Well it certainly wouldn't surprise me if they originated from hard times. During the depression and times of rationing, cooks had to make do with what was available.
                                    If your family had a bumper crop of zucchini from the Victory Garden, well, you'd better find creative ways to use it all up. Our grandparents were pretty smart that way :)