Surprise cake

Yes, haven’t all these been a surprise. There are two recipes for this listed one right after the other.  They are the exact same recipe, though one ends with “flour sufficient” and the other ends with “sufficient flour” to make good batter. Not sure why we need both of these, perhaps it was a political decision not to offend a certain contributor of recipes.

(You can find the original recipe in the facsimile copy reproduced in Tom Kelchner’s new book The Story of the 1881 Cumberland Valley Cook and General Recipe Book)

1 egg, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 do. Butter, 1 do. Sweet milk, 1 teaspoon soda, 2 teaspoons cream tartar, flavor with lemon. Sufficient flour to make good batter.

And I guess I know what cake batter should look like, let’s count cups of flour. One gives a stiff looking batter, not so stiff the fork will stand upright, but good enough. Seems cakelike to me. 

Flavor with lemon… but how? I added 1/4 teaspoon of lemon extract flavoring I had and wanted to use up. The cream of tartar seems like it makes the batter very smooth and creamy looking. A cake goes in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, so….

Oh. There’s the surprise. Now I need to clean my oven.

This was clearly not enough flour to hold everything together.  Instead this all boiled over the sides of the pan and burnt to the racks and bottom of the oven.

This was really easy to mix up and I still have more ingredients, so I’ll try this with 2 cups of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon flavoring. And put it in a bigger pan this time, just in case.

Since no frosting was recommended with this (or for that matter, any of the cakes in this section) I went with a lemon glaze I found online – 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1 cup of powdered sugar.

Reviews: “It’s good but I wouldn’t ask for it again” “This would be good for strawberry shortcake.”

I give this 3/5 stars. It was fine, but there are better lemon cakes out there. It tasted like a lemon coffee cake, a little dense but generally inoffensive. Perhaps more experimentation with the flour ratio would improve this, but why bother when someone else has already done that work with a modern recipe. (-ed. It should be noted that the cake that was brought into the Historical Society was pretty quickly consumed.)

– Rachael Zuch of Zuch Design

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