Thursday, February 20, 2014

Retro buttermilk spice cake, 1955

A retro cake for retro people, and what could be nicer? Please enjoy also the lovely advertisements reproduced below, from about the same era. It seems there was once a company called Textron, which made fabric for parachutes and then for ladies' underthings. Could both have been silk? This lady looks as though, while rocking in her quaint little winter-birdhouse chair, she is contemplating getting up and having a piece of cake.

The recipe comes from the Gold Medal Flour Jubilee Select Recipes booklet, published in 1955. It's specifically from the chapter titled "Popular recipes of 1920-1930 brought up to date." If you don't happen to have buttermilk on hand, you'll start with a lemon or a bottle of vinegar: use 1 Tbsp. of either lemon juice or vinegar to sour 1 cup of whole milk. Let the milk sit out at room temperature while you prepare the cake.

Buttermilk spice cake
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup "soft shortening (such as Spry, Swift'ning)" -- I used equal parts butter and vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 F, and butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Mix in a bowl the flour, sugar, salt, leavenings, and spices. Add the brown sugar and mix in well, breaking up any lumps. Mix in the shortening and then the buttermilk or soured milk, beating well with an electric beater. Add the eggs, beating well again. Pour into the prepared pans and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cakes on racks and then frost and fill as desired.

For the frosting, I used the recipe for Quick Cream Icing on the next page of the Gold Medal booklet. Blend 1 and 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 2 Tbsp cream or milk to make a thin icing. Spread it between the layers. Then, make another batch of the icing to drizzle over the top of the cake, or perhaps just dust the top with sifted powdered sugar.


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