I’ve run out of eggs something that also could happen in the 1890s. Therefore the recipe Cake without Eggs caught my eye tonight. Mrs. Richard Jaffray contributed this recipe to the 1898 New Galt Cook Book.
I creamed the 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/2 cups of white granulated sugar together. In a separate bowl I mixed the 3 cups of all-purpose flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder. I decided to add the spices to the flour. I chose 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a few shakes of cloves. I added the 1 cup of milk alternately with the flour until it was well mixed. I chopped raisins until I had 1 cup and then mixed them with a bit of flour before adding to the cake batter — well really it was a dough. I tasted the dough to see if I needed more spice and decided to add a little more cloves. I spooned the dough into a loaf pan. I’m not sure why I picked a loaf pan rather than a cake tin. I think it was the nature of the cake since it resembled cookie or bread dough. I baked the cake at 350 F for 45 minutes before removing it from the oven. I let it cool briefly but I really wanted to taste this cake so it was still warm when I took my first slice.
I talked about Mrs. Richard Jaffray on Day 7 but I’ve found a bit more information. She is Mary Havill (or Havel), daughter of James and Mary Ann Havill. Her English-born husband Richard Jaffray was involved in local politics and was in the newspaper business. He died the year this cook book was published. They had three daughters none of whom married. The eldest Mary Gertrude died in 1900 at the age of 31 of “nervous prostration” after several years. I’d never seen that particular illness on a death record although I’ve seen the term used in other contexts. It turns out it is not unusual to see it as a cause of death. There seems to have been a recognition in the Victorian era that one could die from emotional disorders. Did she have another illness that was missed? Was this anxiety or depression the result of some other disorder? Or did she simply fade away while suffering some loss?
The second daughter Kate Fleury remained single and was a registrar at Galt Collegiate Institute. The youngest Minnie was a music teacher. In 1901 the household included Mary and her daughters Kate and Minnie plus a 52-year-old woman named Kate B Nairn who is listed as a companion. She disappears for the 1911 census but that is the only change right through the 1921 census. Mary died the next year in 1922. Fifty year old Minnie died in 1929 from pneumonia and influenza. She was a matron at the posh Toronto girls’ school Havergal College at the time. Thirty years later Kate died at age 87. Her death notice appeared in the Barrie Examiner
The Cake without Eggs is an acceptable cake. It isn’t a special occasion cake but the sort of everyday basic cake Mrs. Jaffray or a servant could make quickly if they were running short of something to serve for tea or dessert. She didn’t even need to have eggs on hand to make this cake. It seems most basic cook books of this era have at least one eggless cake recipe. I’ve even seen a few eggless, butterless and milkless cake recipes. I should have baked Mrs. Jaffray’s cake in a square or round cake pan rather than in a loaf. It would have baked more quickly. I was too skimpy with my spices and if I was baking this as a modern cook I would add more raisins. I tried a slice of the cake warm with butter and found it works well as a sort of tea bread too. I’ll try this recipe again sometime.
CAKE WITHOUT EGGS
Mrs. Richard Jaffray
One and a half cupfuls sugar, half cupful butter, one cupful milk, three cupfuls flour, two teaspoonfuls baking powder, one cupful chopped raisins well floured and added the last thing before putting into the oven. Spices to taste.