What about antiques, apple picking, recipes, and cake? …. well here you go ….
I love searching antique shops because they fuel my imagination, spark my curiosity and sometimes give insights into our past and present … what was this used for? … who might have owned this and why? … look at that unusual color combination … where was this made?… and on and on. I don’t actually collect a lot of old things but I do have a small collection of 20th-century folk art, carnival chalk-ware pieces, cooking and serving wares, and vintage cookbooks or, should I say, cooking pamphlets.
These pamphlets were produced by a large range of entities from food and appliance manufacturers, to insurance companies and other consumer institutions. I just adore them because I love to cook and like cooking history, especially as it pertains to America. I‘m also smitten with their small format, charming illustrations and pictures, and sometimes advice to homemakers of the day. This advice is often funny and occasionally inappropriate by today’s standards. Just more to love about these pamphlets and so they accumulate on my bookshelf.
I’ve always said, “one day, I’m going to do something with those little cookbooks”, but I never really knew what that would be. I knew I wanted to try some of the recipes but just never found the time or occasion. Now that I’m blogging and vlogging, the idea to do something with these interesting booklets has been rolling around in my mind again.
The other day I picked apples from our two apple trees. Our farm, circa 1901, was owned by only one family before we bought it. The apple trees were planted many years ago by that family. We didn’t do much with them for years so the apples were small and not very good. In more recent years, we’ve been giving them a little attention and this year we had our best crop ever with large apples. One tree is a Red Delicious and the other is a Northern Spy (one a good eating apple and the other a good cooking apple); just what you’d expect from a working farm in Michigan.
With my spare fridge almost entirely taken up with apples and my mind set on doing something with my cooking pamphlet collection; I decided to see if I could find a recipe or two that involved apples. Honestly … no kidding … the first pamphlet I slid off the shelf was entirely about apples! I didn’t even remember that I had it. I was astonished. That’s when the idea hit me to explore these vintage gems in my blog and vlog. An opportunity to try and test some of these old recipes and have a little fun sharing them with my followers. And so my Retro Recipe series begins.
My apple pamphlet was published in 1957 by the Processed Apples Institute, Inc. in New York City. A Google search reveals that it no longer exists. This makes sense since fresh apples are now widely available year-round due to better storage options and international imports. However, in this pamphlet, all recipes call for canned apple slices or canned applesauce. This posed a dilemma for me since I was somewhat determined to attempt the vintage cooking pamphlet recipes as written; but, at the same time, I really wanted to use the apples I had picked from my trees.
I decided to search for canned apple slices anyway, mostly because I was curious about them. Although I know you can get applesauce in a can, jar or even plastic individual serving cups, I couldn’t recall my mother (back in the day) or myself ever buying apple slices in a can. I visited my local grocery store and spoke to the manager who said that they were not a stocked item but that she thought she could get them if need be. I also searched Amazon and found them there. However, the more I searched for canned apples, the more they became overwhelmingly unappealing to me … pun intended.
So I made the decision to let common sense guide my investigation of these vintage cooking pamphlets; especially if it could tip the odds in favor of a successful outcome. We have the luxury of wasting food in this country; I just don’t want to participate if I can avoid it and especially if it is for entertainment purposes.
I selected this first recipe because it is from Wurzburg’s, a department store in my birthplace, Grand Rapids, Michigan. It only exists in the dark cavers of my childhood memories: very faint but still there. A smile comes to my face when I remember this and other department stores from back in their heyday when they were Meccas of retail goodness and places to be experienced from top to bottom, including the restaurant … especially at Christmas time. So here goes!!!!! Apple Sauce- Molasses Upside-Down Cake which was adapted from a recipe contributed by Helen Bradford, Manager of Restaurants, The Wurzburg Co., Grand Rapids, Mi.
For this recipe, I made my own applesauce from my red delicious apples. The applesauce was perfect for uhmm … applesauce; but for this cake recipe, I think a slightly tart apple could be used or at least mixed with sweet apples for a tarter applesauce. My roasted applesauce recipe is super easy to make … here’s what you do.
Once the applesauce is made: you are ready to roll and make the cake.
Here are a few suggestions and/or corrections I’ve made to the recipe instructions: after the butter is melted in the pan, add the sugar and slightly caramelize both over the heat. Then, remove from the heat and add the applesauce. When mixing the wet and the dry ingredients, add the dry mix to the wet in 3 stages to ensure a smooth cake batter. A mixer would be a handy thing for this and for combining the wet ingredients. The instructions say to bake for 1 hour but mine was done at around the 45-minute mark. Use a toothpick to test for doneness and keep an eye on it.
For step by step instructions please visit my video.
If you like this recipe offering please let me know with a comment below.
Until next time … Cheers!