One site caused me to linger for a moment longer, caught up in the uniqueness of the concept and my imagination. It’s called Handwritten Recipes and you can link to it here.
Michael Popek describes his website as “A collection of the handwritten recipes I’ve found in books.” What a great concept, and one we can all relate to. How many of us have ripped off a corner of paper, hastily written down a recipe on it, then later shoved it into a book?
Michael has asked for people to make some of the recipes to get a sense for how they actually taste, and I took the challenge of making this Orange Cream Cake.
This is a picture of the recipe posted on the website. It was found in The Two Vanrevels, a book published in 1902. Notice that there aren’t any instructions for what kind of dish to cook it in, or at what temperature, or for how long.
My imagination gets the better of me sometimes, and I imagined that this woman probably made this recipe a million times and therefore the dish, temperature, and baking time was already safely stored away in her mind.
I also imagine her to be somebody living out in the country, much similar to myself. The handwriting looks circa 1950′s to me, and I guess the age of the woman to be somewhere around seventy. I imagine her to be a sweet and kind grandmother, great grandmother even, with a life behind her which is full and pleasing.
And then while I was sitting down this morning to finish this post, I saw it…there on the top right corner. In parenthesis, my long lost grandmother wrote “Mystery Chef.” Come to find out, the Mysery Chef was a television show featuring John MacPherson in 1949. It was also a radio show prior to that from 1931-1950. (I promise, I guessed the approximate year of handwriting before I found out this little tidbit).
After creaming together the butter and sugar, it was time to separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. These days recipes will tell you to whisk the egg whites into soft or hard peaks. This recipe just stated to cut and fold them into the recipe. I opted to whisk them into soft peaks and added them to the batter.
That morning when I first saw the recipe, I was excited to note that I had all the ingredients, except the orange extract. So I opted to use freshly squeezed orange juice instead. From this, I also made an orange glaze to go on top of the cake by mixing the juice with powdered sugar. I decided to bake this cake in a pie dish, in a 325-degree oven for approximately 1-hour.
The cake was a hit with my family, and I enjoyed the first slice with a bottle of lavender soda on a warm, breezy August afternoon sitting by an open window. I encourage you to do the same! See the recipe below.
Orange Cream Cake (Mystery Chef)
- 1/4c. butter
- 1 1/3 c. sugar (I used raw, organic)
- 3 eggs (separated)
- 1 1/2 c. sifted flour
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- 1/3 tsp. salt
- 2/3 c. milk
- 1 tsp. orange extract (I used about 1Tb. of freshly squeezed orange juice)
Cream butter and sugar, beat egg yolks and add. Sift flour, baking powder and salt, add alternatively with milk. Whisk egg whites into soft peaks and fold into the batter.
Bake in a buttered pie dish in a 325-degree oven for 55-60 minutes.
- Mix together the remainder of the freshly squeezed orange juice with powdered sugar to the consistency you like. When the cake is cooling, poke holes in the top with toothpicks, and pour the glaze over the top.