Day 212: Tilden Cake

I’m not sure why but if feels like time to bake a cake again. Perhaps it is because this is the beginning of another long weekend here in Ontario. It is the oddly named “Civic Holiday”. I’ve selected an oddly named cake to make tonight. This one is Tilden Cake. The New Galt Cook Book includes recipes from contributors in other communities including Mrs. C. P. Keefer of St. George.

I creamed the 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar first and then added 4 eggs. Once these were incorporated I started mixing the dry ingredients – 3 cups of flour, 1/2 cup corn starch, 2 teaspoons baking powder. Next I added 1 cup of regular milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon extract. It took a bit of effort to get everything well incorporated. I greased the cake pans and added the batter. I baked it at 350 F. for 40 minutes. Once it was baked and a bit golden on top I removed the cake from the oven. After it cooled a little it was time to taste.

The Keefer's grocery store in St. George, Ontario.

The Keefer’s grocery store in St. George, Ontario.

Mrs. C. P. Keefer has other recipes in this cook book. She is Emily or Emma Guppy. Her husband is Charles Parsons Keefer. Their story is one of the most disturbing of all the women I’ve researched. Emma was born in Newberry in Middlesex County to Rosa and William Guppy in 1858.  She was just 19 when she married Charles in 1877 and moved to his home area in South Dumfries township. I suspect things seemed great when Emma quickly became pregnant with their first child but unfortunately the baby was stillborn in 1878. Another child George Egbert was born in May 1880. A few months later on September 1st tragedy struck again when 21 year old Emma died of typhoid fever. Baby George was just a few months old when his mother died and two weeks later he died of dysentery. He was just four months old. Emma’s husband remarried five years later but they never had children either.

Tilden cake is excellent. The lemon flavour is great and it is a good sturdy cake. I suspect the corn starch helps the texture of the cake. Tilden cake would make a good base for interesting icings or even to use as the base for fruit and whipped cream. I’ll keep this recipe handy for future use. I have no idea why it is called Tilden cake although an internet search reveals it among presidential cakes and even appeared in another cookbooks twenty years before The New Galt Cook Book was published.

Mrs. C. P. Keefer

One cupful of butter, two of pulverized sugar, one cupful of sweet milk, three cupfuls of flour, half cupful of corn starch, four eggs, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder, two of lemon extract. This is excellent.


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