Once again Anna and I went to our big box of old recipes from the 40s. As mentioned before, Anna bought these second hand, and we think they are from a church kitchen. The last two recipes weren’t so great, and we wanted to make something edible this time. This recipe was actually labelled as cookies, but they weren’t really. They were much too cake-ish. As soon as we started thinking about them as tea cakes rather than cookies, we liked them a lot more. This is the first Weird Recipes from Yesteryear that were not only edible, but pretty good. Put a little jam on them, and they are very enjoyable.
Orange Coconut Tea Cakes
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening (we used butter)
3/4 cup orange juice
1 cup coconut
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Drop by spoonfuls.
That is the entire recipe. We mixed the dry goods, then set aside. We mixed the wet ingredients, and then mixed the dry ingredients into that. Finally we added the coconut. This is a pretty normal way to make cookies, so I am confident that is what the recipe intended. As I said, they worked out well. Just think of them as little cakes–not cookies.
Lucy loved them, and also threw them around quite a bit.
I am starting to see why these weird recipes did not stand the test of time. For our second instalment of Weird Recipes from Yesteryear, we decided to make a dessert called Prune Whip. We actually thought it might be good, and I am not really sure why we did. It wasn’t. I did like it more than the Tomato Soup Cake, but Anna and Alec thought it was much worse.
I started to think about why these recipes are bad. I think it boils down to a lack of access to ingredients in the 1940s. Many of the recipes have prunes, dates, or canned pineapple. I think you can attribute this to the fact that fresh fruits and veggies were not as readily available in off seasons. In Minnesota where it is cold most of the time, our fresh fruit season is very short. Cooks would have had to make the best with dried and canned fruits.
Anna and I did go through the recipes after the prune disaster and found some other recipes that sound good, not just weird. We hope to give you a recipe worth eating in the next edition of Weird Recipes from Yesteryear. Until then, here is Prune Whip…
2 cups cooked prunes
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
We took about 1 1/2 cups of dried prunes and simmered them in water until they were nice and juicy. Once they had cooled some we chopped them. However, they didn’t so much chop as mush up.
Meanwhile, mix the egg whites until stiff.
Add in the sugar.
Okay, Lucy isn’t really putting in the sugar, but she was pretty interested in what was going on.
Fold in the chopped nuts and prunes.
Once mixed put the mixture in a pie shell that had been pre-baked. I made a butter pie crust and baked it for 375 for 30 minutes covered with tin foil and pie weights. This worked well. I used the pie shell I used in my key lime pie recipe if you are interested, but any pie shell would work.
Bake for 20 minutes.
It was not very good. As you can see from the photo below, none of us finished the dessert.
My friend Anna found a bunch of old recipes in a drawer she bought at a thrift shop a while back. A couple of the recipes were dated from 1940, so we are assuming most are from about that time. Many of the recipes are huge, enough servings to serve 100 people or more. Perhaps they are from a church kitchen? A number of the recipes are also weird. We are going to make a recipe from this collection probably once a month and post it on here. We decided to start with one of the strangest recipes in there: Tomato Soup Cake. The only problem was, it wasn’t so much a recipe as a list of ingredients. However, we have made enough cakes to guess how it went together. The big question was how long to bake it and what type of pan it should go in. We ended up doing a 9 inch round pan, and it baked for about 4o-45 minutes.
The end result was similar to pumpkin spice cake, but not as good. I am not sure if you could tell the difference if you didn’t know about the soup. After we had made it, I went online to see if other people made this cake (not sure why I didn’t try this before). I did find similar recipes, believe it or not. The recipe originates from 1925–it was an invention of the Campbell’s Soup Corporation, no surprise there. Campbell’s still has a modified recipe on their website! I think we probably should have made the cake in a loaf pan–that seems to be a more common way to make it. I was pleased to see that topping it with cream cheese frosting was also common, which we decided to do just looking at the ingredient list.
All in all it was a fun adventure. Will I start making this cake on a regular basis? No. It was not that good. It was better than I thought it would be though, and it would be a good conversation starter I suppose. Or maybe if there is a big run on pumpkin someday, and you really want a pumpkin spice cake, you can look this up and make it.
1/4 pound shortening (we used butter instead, and it worked fine)
1 cup sugar
1 can or tomato soup
1 teaspoon baking soda–put in the soup
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons baking powder
We started by creaming the butter until nice and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the egg and mix well. Put in the tomato soup/baking soda combo.
Meanwhile we mixed all the dry ingredients together. Once the wet ingredients were well mixed.
Bake the cake at 350 degrees. The baking time will vary on your choice of pan. For a 9″ round bake for about 40 minutes. If you do a loaf pan, maybe try about an hour?
Now for the frosting:
The frosting was really good, and it made the cake better I think. Mix up 3 ounces of cream cheese (at room temp), half stick of butter (at room temp), 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 2 cups of powdered sugar. Blend together until light and fluffy. I found this recipe from my Better Homes and Garden’s Baking book–a classic.