Although cake in pioneer days was considered a luxury, within a few years nearly every family served cake for Sunday dinner, birthdays or at Church socials. Usually these first homemakers, through necessity, saved the ingredients for the Christmas cake for many months prior to the baking. Raisins, currants and spices were especially hard to obtain. Claude T. Barnes in his writings said: "Once in awhile mother, Emily Stewart Barnes, pioneer of 1851, would have something special for dinner. It was a cake made with light dough into which she would put one cup of squash, a piece of butter and a few dried service berries." Because cake was such a "special treat" in pioneer days it probably was enjoyed much more, even though it was simply made, than our cakes are today.
In making cake, accuracy in proportioning the ingredients is most important. Success usually follows those who are attentive to each detail. Measure the flour after sifting, unless the recipe says otherwise. Have the oven ready to receive the cake as soon as it is mixed. The oven can wait for the cake but the cake can never wait for the oven.... Mrs. Rorer's Philadelphia Cook Book . . 1886.
Mrs. Weaver's Wedding Cake. 1 lb. sugar (powdered); 1 lb. butter; 1 lb. flour; 12 eggs; 1 lb. raisins (seeded and chopped) 1 lb. currants (washed and dredged); 1/2 lb. citron, cut in strips; 1 tbs. cinnamon; 2 tbs. nutmeg; 1 tsp. cloves; 1 wineglass brandy. Cream butter and sugar; add beaten egg yolks and stir well together before putting in 1/2 of flour. The spices should come next; then the whipped egg whites stirred alternately with the remainder of the flour, lastly the brandy. The above quantity is for 2 cakes. Bake at least two hours in deep tins lined with buttered paper. If kept in a cool, dry place, it will not spoil for at least two months. Cooked frosting for wedding cake: One cup granulated sugar. Wet with a little water. Let it boil without stirring until it becomes thick. Beat whites of 2 eggs very light. Strain the boiled sugar into them slowly beating all the time.
Grandma Schadie's Old Time Wedding Cake. 5 cups flour, sifted twice; 1 cup molasses; 1 cup sugar; 1 cup butter (or 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup good lard;) 1/4 citron; (grind or slice, and grease with butter before you grind it. After it is ground, sprinkle a little flour on it.) a package raisins (seeded) boil and then dry with towel; 1 tsp. cinnamon; 1 tsp. cloves 1 tsp. nutmeg; 1 cup strong coffee; 5 eggs; 2 tsp. baking powder added to flour; cream well the butter and sugar; add eggs and beat. Put molasses in another bowl. Put 1 tsp. soda in cup and add one tbs. water to soda. Put soda into molasses and stir until it gets white and foamy then add to egg mixture. Add coffee, then the dry ingredients one cup at a time. Add raisins and citron. Bake real slow, just enough to make it raise, then increase the heat. Bake about one and one-half hours.
White filling. 1 white of egg; beat well, then use fork to beat in powdered sugar. Make it real thick.
Brown filling. 3/4 cup cream; 2 squares chocolate; 11/2 cups sugar. Scald cream and grate chocolate. Stir until melted. Put in sugar. Cook until it forms a skin when put in saucer. Put in dish and beat. Let it cool but put it on cake before it gets too cold or too hard.
Old Fashioned Pork Cake. 1 lb. salt pork; 1 pt. boiling water; 3 cups brown sugar; 1 tsp. cinnamon; 1 tsp. nutmeg; 1 tsp. cloves; 1 cup molasses; 1 lb. raisins; 1 lb. currants; 8 cups flour; 2 tsp. baking soda; 2 eggs. Grind salt pork in medium grinder. Add boiling water and let set on back of stove until dissolved. Add sugar, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix, then add eggs and baking soda. To this mixture add flour, raisins and currants. Pour into pans and bake in medium oven for 1 hour or until done.
Mary W. Stoddards' Molasses Cake. 1 cup brown sugar; 1/2 cup lard; 2 eggs; 1/2 cup molasses; 1 cup hot water (scant) 21/2 cups flour; 1 tsp. salt; 1 tsp. soda; 1 tsp. cinnamon; 1/2 tsp. cloves; 1/2 tsp. allspice. Bake in oven 35 minutes.
Ruth M. Pack's Molasses Cake. 1 cup molasses; 1 cup sugar; 1 cup coffee; 2/3 cup shortening; 1 tsp. soda; 31/2 cups flour. Beat 2 eggs and add liquids together; add soda to flour and mix well; bake in moderate oven 1 hour.
Molasses Fruit Cake. One cup butter; 1 cup brown sugar worked well together; 2 cups molasses; 1 cup milk with tsp. cinnamon; 1 tsp. cloves and a little grated nutmeg. Add 4 eggs well beaten and 5 cups sifted flour to make a stiff batter. Flour a cup of raisins and one of currants; add last. Bake in moderate oven 1 hour. If well covered will keep for six months.
Emily Coleman's Dried Apple Cake. 2 cup molasses; 3 cup dried apples; 1 cup butter; 1 cup sugar; 1 cup sour milk; 1 tsp. soda; 4 eggs; 4 cups flour. Mix and bake.
Ruth Abigail Turners Applesauce Cake. 1/2 cup butter; 1 cup sugar; 1 egg; 1 cup apple sauce; 2 cups sifted flour; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1/4 cup chopped nuts; 1/2 tsp. baking powder; 1 tsp. soda; 1/2 tsp. cloves; 1 tsp. cinnamon; 1 tsp. allspice; 1 cup chopped raisins. Cream butter, sugar, add whole egg, apple sauce. Beat well. Sift dry ingredients together; add raisins and put altogether. Bake in moderate oven.
Elenorah D. Taylor's Applesauce Cake. 3 cups sugar; 11/2 cups shortening; 1 tsp. salt; 3 tsp. cinnamon; 1 tsp. cloves; 11/2 tsp. nutmeg; 4 tbs. cocoa; 3 tsp. soda; 1/4 cup cold water; 3 cups unsweetened applesauce; 6 cups flour; 1 pkg. raisins; 1 pkg. gum drops (cut up) 1 cup nuts. Cream together sugar, shortening and salt. Add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa and cream well. Stir soda into cold water and add to applesauce. Let it foam up, then add to other ingredients. Mix in flour, a little more if needed, then add raisins, nuts and gum drops. Bake in 3 large loaf tins in moderate oven for 11/2. hours.
Spice Cake. 2 cups sugar; 2/3 cup. butter; 2 eggs; 1 cup buttermilk; 1 tsp. soda; 1 tsp. cloves; 1 tbs. cinnamon; 1/2 tsp. nutmeg; 1 cup flour or enough to make a thick batter. Bake in moderate oven.
Alice Mabey's Eggless Raisin Cake 1 lb seeded raisins; 2 cups sugar; 3 cups water; boil altogether; while still hot add cup lard. Let cool then add 4 cups flour; 1 tsp. cinnamon; 1 tsp. nutmeg; 2 tsp. soda; 1/2 tsp. salt, nuts if desired. Bake one hour in moderate oven.
Jelly Cake. 3 eggs; 1 cup sugar; 1 cup milk; flavoring; 1 tbs. butter, 2 tsp. baking powder; pinch of salt. Beat whites and yolks separately. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. Cream butter and sugar, add milk and yolk of eggs. Add sifted flour slowly and alternate with beaten egg whites. Bake in thin layers in medium hot oven; spread jelly between layers, building 5 or 6 layers high.
Roll Jelly Cake. 2 eggs, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of sweet milk, 11/2 cups of flour, two tsp. of baking powder, piece of butter the size of a small egg, season to taste; bake in a dripping pan. When done, turn out on a clean towel, and commence rolling; roll the cake all the way with the towel, being careful not to get the towel inside the cake; after the cake is all rolled, roll the towel around it and leave it until it is cold.
Ella J. Seegmiller's Sponge Cake. 2 cup sifted white sugar; 2 cup flour, 10 eggs; stir the yolks and sugar together until perfectly light; add a pinch of salt; beat the whites of the eggs to a very stiff froth and add them to the flour, beating together lightly. Add flavoring. Bake in moderate oven about 45 minutes. Baking powder is an improvement to this cake, using two large tsp.
Mrs. Meyer's Danish Banana Black Walnut Cake. Recipe from her grandmother, Mrs. Ole Nelson, who brought the start for the walnut tree from Denmark in pioneer days. 1/2 cup shortening; 1 cup sugar; 2 eggs, beaten; 11/3 cups sifted flour; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1/4 tsp. baking soda; 3/4 tsp. baking powder; 2/3 cup chopped black or English walnuts; 2/3 cup mashed banana pulp; 3 tbs. buttermilk. Cream shortening well. Add the beaten eggs and beat well; stir flour with salt, soda and baking powder and mix with walnuts. Combine mashed banana and buttermilk and add alternately with the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture. Pour into greased layer cake pans and bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes.
Mrs. Kastli's Danish Pastries. 3 cups sifted flour; 1/2 lb. butter; 1/4 lb. vegetable shortening; 1/2 cup sweet milk. Cut soft shortening into flour as for pie crust. Add enough milk to make a dough-like pie crust. Chill slightly. Roll 1/4 inch and cut into 1 x 2 inch pieces. Dip each piece in sugar. Place on cookie sheet allowing as small a space between as possible. Bake in very hot oven for 10 minutes until done. They do not brown. Cool and store in tight can.
Viola Law's Filled Sugar Cookies. Filling: Combine 1 cup sugar and 2 tbs. flour in a saucepan. Add 1 cup water, juice of 1 orange and 2 cups raisins and cook until thick. Cool before using. (date, pineapple or other fillings may be used for variety.) For plain sugar cookies, roll thicker. Cookies: 3 cups sugar. 1 pint sour cream; 1/2 cup butter or shortening; 4 eggs, beaten; 8 cups flour; 1 tsp. soda; 6 tsp. baking powder; 2 tsp. vanilla. Beat together sugar, sour cream and softened shortening, then add beaten eggs. Mix together all dry ingredients and add gradually to cream mixture. Roll out thin and cut with round cutter. Place on cookie sheet and put 1 tsp. filling in center of each cookie. Top with another cookie round, pressing edges together. Sprinkle tops with sugar mixed with a little cinnamon. Bake at 400F. until brown.
Sugar Cookies. Four eggs, not beaten, two cups of sugar, 3/4 cup shortening (butter is best) vanilla or nutmeg, flour enough to handle easily, two teaspoonsful of baking powder; sprinkle a little sugar on the top when partly baked. These cookies will keep any length of time and are always fresh.
Sugar Cookies. Eight tbs. sugar; 6 tbs. melted butter; 4 tbs. milk; 2 eggs; 2 tsp. baking powder; flour to thicken. Stir the butter into the sugar; beat the eggs light; add to butter and sugar, stirring well, then add the milk. Sift baking powder with a little flour and stir this in, adding enough more flour to admit of rolling out the dough. Place the latter on a well flouted board and roll thin; cut out the cookies with a cutter; dip each one in granulated sugar when cut and bake in a quick oven.
Mary Dunn Ensign's Cookies. 2 level c. lard; 1 c. sour cream; 2 eggs; 1 c. seeded raisins; 1/2 c. currants; pinch of salt; 1 tsp. soda; 1 tsp. cloves; 1 tsp. nutmeg; 1 tsp. cinnamon; 1 tsp. allspice. Add flour to make a dough soft as can be rolled out and bake in hot oven.
Maple Cookies. Two cups of maple-syrup, one cup of sugar, 2/3 cup of lard or butter, one cup of strong, hot coffee, in which one teaspoonful of soda has been dissolved; mix all together, add one tablespoon each of ginger and cinnamon, flour to roll soft; bake in a quick oven.
Ginger Snaps. 1 tbs. ginger; 1 tbs. lard; 1 tsp. soda; 1/2 pt. molasses, half a teacup of water with sufficient flour to knead soft dough. Roll thin and bake in quick oven.
Puff Ball Doughnuts. 3 eggs; 1 pt. milk; 1 c. sugar; 2 tsp. baking powder; salt and nutmeg. Flour enough to permit spoon to stand up. Beat all until very light; drop from spoon in hot grease and cook.
Buns. Break one egg into a cup and fill with sweet milk; mix with it half cup yeast, half cup butter, one cup sugar, enough flour to make a soft dough; flavor with nutmeg. Let it rise till very light, then mold into biscuits with a few currants. Let rise a second time in pan; bake, and when nearly done, glaze with a little molasses and milk. Use the same cup, no matter about the size, for each measure.Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.