German immigrants brought Marmorkuchen–marble cake–to the United States. Vintage cook books and newspapers show spice-and-yellow cake batters swirled together. Late-nineteenth-century bakers began to swap spice cake for chocolate. Delicious vintage baking!
The story behind the invention (development?) of Angel Food Cake is a bit shrouded in tales of “Me, First!” Vintage newspaper advertisements show Angel Food Cake for sale in bakeries by 1878, and in cookbooks for home bakers that same year. One of the origin stories made it into a vintage cookbook (“cook book”), along with minor variations on the fluffy, snow-white theme. No matter how the dessert began, the popularity took off among Victorian bakers and remained popular through the Edwardian and Progressive Era. One peek at Pinterest vouches that this brightly white cake is still popular (even when pink).
Today, January 27th, is National Chocolate Cake Day!
No better time to reflect upon, and relish the “invention” of one of the BEST chocolate cakes of all time–Devil’s Food Cake.
Devil’s Food Cake (often simply “Devil’s Food”) debuted along with other chocolate cakes as the culmination of chocolate dessert creations, at the tail-end of the Victorian Era, and gained momentum into the brief Edwardian period. American bakers discovered the capacities of baking chocolate, creating the sinfully rich and decadent cake, frosted with anything from a basic white, boiled frosting to ultra-sweet fudge frosting. Of all the “Victorian Inventions”, Devil’s Food Cake might be a twenty-first century favorite!
Behind the 19th century soda fountain counter, “baristas” known as Dispensers or Soda Men, knew a tremendous amount about customer service, the making of an ever-growing list of beverages, and the care and use of operating the soda apparatus. While other trained men mixed syrups, compounded recipes for everything from soda water to flavorings to syrups, and cleaned and repaired the machines, this article focuses on the Soda Men and their key role in the success of a Victorian-American Soda Fountain. This post is filled with primary-source recipes, tips for excellent customer service, and instructions to properly pour a soda water or ice cream soda.
Etiquette governed much during the Victorian Era: courtship, marriage, mourning, letters, social calls, dancing, engagements and breaking of engagements, clothing…and men’s hats. When reading fiction and nonfiction alike, I’ve wondered about men tipping their hats to ladies, removing their hats (or not), giving their hats over to the butler (or not), wearing a Stetson inside or during a business meeting… What did good manners demand? How did a cowboy show respect? How did a lady know if a man hoped to stay awhile when he paid a call?