Great Great Grandmas Cake recipe


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Hello,
My mother recently died. I grabbed her recipe boxes. While going through them, I found this. Made it and it was super rubbery. Below is how I prepared it, as there was no instructions .
I mixed all the dry ingredients, then cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter. Mixed all the wet ingredients then combined. Put in a 7x11 pan, baked at 350* checked after 18 min's, tooth pick wet. Checked again at 25 and it was dry.
Should I have done something different? I'd really like to make some of these recipes, but most are like this, ingredients, no instructions.
 

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A rubbery texture may indicate that the raising agent didn't do its thing. What did you use for the "sour milk" ingredient. I would presume you would use buttermilk or sour cream to activate the baking soda since sour milk may be difficult to come by (at least since my College refrigerator). Many devil's food cake recipes have coffee in them, which is acidic and would also activate the soda. Cocoa can as well, but it depends on how it was processed. It's hard to know what actual ingredients were used so long ago.

To me, this recipe just doesn't have enough fat in it. For 1.5 cups of flour, I would expect at least 1/2 cup of butter or oil. I don't remember ever making a cake with shortening so I guess it may be different.

LMH
 
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LMH is correct,
the fat should be close to 50% of the flour by weight. Butter or shortening.
Your spoon of fat is probably not the same as hers .

1 1/2 cups flour is close to 8 oz, a stick of soft butter would be good.
But I suspect the biggest problem is the proceedure.

Try this,
cream the fat and sugar with the salt, soda and lastly the cocoa, it should be a smooth batter before proceeding.
add the egg and continue mixing to keep it smooth.

add the buttermilk and flour alternately, half the buttermilk, mix smooth then half the sifted flour, constant mixing, then the last of the buttermilk, make sure its smooth then the last of the flour.
A splash of red food coloring will bring out a very rich chocolate color if you want.
 
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Your spoon of fat is probably not the same as hers .
Old fashioned tablespoons were often quite large. I have seen them as large as any spoon I have in the kitchen. Your 2nd great grandmother probably had a specific spoon in her kitchen that she used for all of her measuring. Who knows how large it was. You may have to adjust the quantities of other ingredients that are given in tbls. It may be helpful to look up some other traditional recipes for devils food cake and work out the ratio of each ingredient as compared to the amount of flour. Recipes will vary some, but this will give you an idea as to the range of proportions that have been found to give a good result.

Old recipes sometimes gave all their measurements in "spoons" instead of "cups".

This is an interesting read,

The Great Tablespoon Debate

Even today, 1 tbl in Australia is about 1/3 bigger than in the US.

...yet another reason to weigh ingredients.

LMH
 
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I bet the shortening was Lard, and if she measured like my Mom ( you've heard of "til it looks right", it was a heaping Tbls.) and Mom used milk that had soured from age :)
 
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When you have a vintage recipe you cannot apply modern methods or standards.



You have to use methods and select ingredients that would have been available to the baker from that period.



Cocoa powder was not readily available to home bakers until the 1940’s.



Crisco was introduced in 1911. As a substitute for butter; it was inexpensive, it had a long shelf life, so it was very common in every kitchen by the 1940s.



The use of sour milk and baking soda, the ratio of ingredients to the flour and the scale reflects early devil’s food cake recipes. These early recipes typically did not follow a standard devil’s food cake formulas. And they used very little chocolate.



In the United States, women were trained to write recipes in a certain format. This came from home economics classes (cooking and sewing) were common if not mandatory classes in middle and high schools. These classes used standards established by Fannie Merritt Farmer of the Boston Cooking School. Aside from her famous cookbook, Fannie Farmer standardized the level measurement and organized ingredients in a recipe in the order in which they are used.



When you see a list of ingredients beginning with eggs, sugar and milk in a vintage cake recipe and there is no butter, then the eggs are beaten with sugar until light and homogenous. This is called ribboned egg. It is a type of mechanical leavening. Ribboned eggs are used in many cake applications to this day.



With such a small amount of shortening, and the eggs and sugar whisked, then the only logical approach is to melt. The sour milk, shortening and eggs are all fats and they are all liquids.



Sift the dry ingredients together to fully incorporate.



Fold the ribboned eggs mixture into the dry ingredients



Then mix the milk mixture into to the flour and egg mixture.



A low protein flour like all purpose bleached white or cake flour was more common than unbleached flour.



The cane granulated sugar was also more common than beet sugar.



The baking soda is an alkaline. The vintage in the sour milk is an acid. When combined they will create co2, especially when the sour milk is made with vinegar.
 
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