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!
As today (July 9) is National Sugar Cookie Day, it’s a perfect opportunity to celebrate Sugar Cookies in Victorian America. Everything from sugar cookie history in a nutshell to images of vintage cookie cutters, nineteenth century recipes lifted from vintage newspapers and cookbooks (cook books = more accurate spelling). Indulge in a bit of sweet history with me. Pull up a chair and let me pour tea while we sit and visit awhile. You simply must try my special (modern) and scrumptious soft sugar cookie recipe (downloadable, savable, printable PDF).
Today, February 23, is National Banana Bread Day. While banana bread (as we now know it) became a staple among home bakers in the 1930s, banana bread had its start in the late Victorian era where “banana flour” came to the United States from the tropics. Vintage newspaper advertisements show the beginnings of banana bread available in bakeries and homemakers’ awareness of quality nutrition to be found in the imported fruit and “flour.” With or without nuts, banana bread is a hallmark of American quick breads… and our nineteenth century ancestors, complete with baking powder and a wealth of cake-baking knowledge, were prepared for the post-Great Depression’s urge to “use it up.”
I’ve recently covered leavening agents in Victorian Baking, including saleratus and baking soda (let’s not confuse salsoda!). But what of the “pearl ash” noted in early American cook books (1796)? Asheries were a significant part of 19th century life, as ashes (can you imagine?) were a significant export from the United States and Canada. Come see what pearl ash was, how it was made, and what an ashery was all about.
Today, December 30th, is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day.
Why recognize and celebrate such an obscure “foodie” day?
Victorian-era recipes containing saleratus, pearl ash, baking soda, baking powder (and more) can be confusing… and evoke a million questions. When were each used? Which were Victorian-era developments? Which did 19th century cooks prefer?