Monday, August 21, 2017

#anAWWyear - August 1947 Food: Eggless Apple Cake and more

I have long had an interest in the history of domestic technology and food, and indeed have written on the history of food as part of an Australian Christmas. As a result I ended up looking at and absolutely adoring many 19th and early 20th century recipe books and household advice manuals. (Project Gutenberg has a great selection to get you started for free - I will do a post reviewing some of my favourites from there soon.)  I have recipe types which I particularly look for because I like them - I adore 'themed' menu plans and I'm always looking for cake and cookie recipes. There are also those I search out because of the 'wtf' factor - the many, many ways in which the word 'salad' is abused probably tops my list. I've been looking forward to the recipe side of this challenge.

Recipes in the Australian Women's Weekly come in three main categories - the featured recipes in each issue, the recipes sent in by readers for prize consideration, and recipes which feature in advertisements. The format of many Kraft advertisements from this year was an 'advertorial' style recipe column which gives recipes, general cooking advice and some household tips - all linking back to Kraft products. The one in the August 2nd issue is giving fish recipes for a 'couponless' meal plan, a reminder that there was still food rationing in force in 1947. I was particularly struck by the recipe for Mock Mushroom soup, as that seems like a strange thing to mock up.
I cannot imagine being so desperate for vague taste of mushroom that I would serve this.
Still, never say never. Australian Women's Weekly, Aug 2 1947, p12.
Rationing also gives us recipes from readers to get around the need for particular ingredients, such as this reader-submitted recipe for Eggless Apple Cake.

Didn't win the first prize at the time, but it was the best of the issue's recipes from my point of view.
Australian Women's Weekly, Aug 9 1947, p54.
This produces a lovely, delicately spiced chocolate apple cake.

Delicious cake, ready to be eaten with afternoon tea. 
 Notes for the recipe as written: while the recipe says to cream the butter and sugar, the amounts given just don't 'cream' together as one is used to in other recipes. No matter how long I mixed, it stayed quite grainy and separate and I was convinced I'd either misread the recipe (did it in fact say 3/4 cup of sugar? Maybe 1/4 cup? something else entirely?) or the original recipe was wrong. But once the warm apple pulp is mixed in everything dissolves and melts in anyway. (Which I didn't sieve, btw. I just smushed it up in the saucepan. I got the cup from 4 apples with some left over.)
The apple cake before icing.
It also says to cover it in 'warm' chocolate icing - icing can be a very personal preference. I used a glaze style (sifted icing sugar and cocoa with some boiling water). A heavier buttercream might be too much!
After adding the glaze. 
Because this recipe is already excluding eggs, and only has the one tablespoon of butter, I decided to try to make a vegan version (for the Tuesday night gaming group, one of whom is vegan). I substituted one tablespoon of vegetable oil (I used sunflower but I know many vegan recipes suggest canola) and reduced the sugar to 1/2 cup and it worked beautifully. The texture was a tiny bit denser, which I'd expect with an oil substitution, but hardly noticeable.

Sadly not all food can be awesome cake. I also tried out two savoury recipes.
The first was another reader recipe, this time one that won the first prize for that week - Savory Steak Snacks.  You make a savoury mince mix up into balls, make a cheese pastry, and combine into cute parcels which are baked. In theory anyway.
Less than cute snacks.
The pastry tasted great. I enjoyed the meat, but my husband didn't, and the three year old ate a small amount of cheese pastry with enjoyment but entirely refused to even try the centre. If I were going to try these again I'd chill the pastry for a while before rolling it out, and make sure it was thinner and even. I'd also make the mince into smaller balls.

The next recipe I tried I didn't even attempt to serve to the men in my life - I made it as lunch for myself on a work day when my son is at preschool. 'Creamed Eggs and Celery' was one of the magazine's own recipes for a feature titled Speedy Luncheons. 
Australian Women's Weekly, Aug 9 1947, p53
It is meant to be a luncheon dish for guests (the recipe as written serves 4-5) so I obviously reduced all the quantities.

It was tasty (the smooth white sauce and hard boiled egg contrasting nicely with the softened yet still substantial celery and red capsicum and the crunchy toast), and I can see how it would be a perfectly pleasant, warm lunch meal but I don't think it will enter my regular go-to solo lunches.

There were easily half a dozen other recipes I could have tried, but I had to limit myself in anticipation of September!

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to try this! It sounds like a lovely recipe to me. (And I usually use sunflower oil too.)