Thursday, April 7, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly 7

Historical Food Fortnightly 2016  Challenge 7:

Pretty as a Picture

The Challenge: Pretty as a Picture
If you’re a fan of cooking competition shows, you know how the saying goes: we eat first with our eyes. Make a dish that looks just as spectacular as it tastes. Extra points for historically accurate plating - and don’t forget to post pictures! 

The Recipe: 
It's my mom's birthday and I offered to make her something from her childhood as a birthday cake. I thought she would pick a pie, which she says is her favorite, or let me choose. She had a craving for gingerbread with cream cheese frosting. It was difficult to find a period recipe from the 50s or 60s for gingerbread, let alone gingerbread with cream cheese frosting. A little digging revealed Betty Crocker produced a gingerbread cake mix and pre-made cream cheese frosting. I went back a little earlier in time, knowing my grandmother could NOT cook when she married in 1944, her mother wasn't well enough to cook, so my grandmother used her mother-in-law's recipes. We did not have one for gingerbread cake in the family files so I turned to the Internet for help. 

The recipe I chose was:  "My Best Gingerbread" as found on A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn.
1940s United States.

For the frosting I chose Philadelphia's recipe. I don't know what year the ad is from but it looks vintage. Cream cheese frosting uses the same ingredients in every recipe, only the proportions change.

How did you make it:
I followed the directions on the card. I used butter instead of shortening for a richer flavor.  
soupy cake batter 

I baked at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

The cake finally done after baking. The middle sunk a bit.

I followed the directions for the frosting but used a little less powdered sugar. The full amount was just too sweet for this type of cake. 

I then frosted the cake with cream cheese frosting. I decorated with chocolate bits and slivered almonds to make the daisy pattern seen in this ad

How Successful Was It?: It took a little longer to bake than the blogger's cake. The center was very wet. 
The frosting is very successful but it would not make enough for two 9" cakes as the recipe says. 

Taste-wise it was a success. My mom said it was exactly what she was wishing for and if she didn't have a dress to fit into she would have a second piece. The other adults gave it a thumb's up and I liked it too. It's a classic dense molasses gingerbread. The children only liked the chocolate chips on top. 

Time to Complete: about 1 1/2 hours total.

Total Cost:  We had to buy more molasses and regular cream cheese. We had everything else on hand.
Given the popularity of gingerbread during the colonial times and again during the Depression and World War II, this cake needs little sugar and was less expensive than other types of cakes and fit the wartime rationing rules. 

How Accurate Is It?: 100% down to the plate, which was my paternal grandmother's from the 1950s or 60s.

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