Tag Archives: St. George

Day 363: Chocolate Cake

You’d think after 362 days I’d have my daily cooking and writing down pat but tonight I nearly forgot to cook. It was a busy day and suddenly it was almost 10 pm and I realized I hadn’t made anything from the 1898 New Galt Cook Book today. So I decided to leaf through the cookbook and see what turned up. Chocolate Cake caught my eye and I discovered that I haven’t made any of the five recipes for chocolate cake. I guess I kept saving them for a special occasion. This isn’t a special occasion but tomorrow a family member starts chemotherapy. I think we need a feel good recipe tonight. I selected the one contributed by Mrs. W. B. Wood of St. George.

At first I thought this recipe was straightforward except for determining the amount of chocolate. It turned out to have a couple more quirks. Bakers chocolate recently changed the way they package their chocolate. I think they’ve returned to the way it might have been in 1898. Instead of the small squares packaged separately there are two bars marked in rectangles. It takes four of the rectangles to equal one of the old squares. I tried to break the bar into strips lengthwise but it broke horizontally instead. I ended up using the equivalent to 1 1/2 of the old squares of unsweetened chocolate. I dropped the pieces into 1 cup of milk in a saucepan and turned up the heat. Once the chocolate was melted and the milk had boiled I tried to stir in 2 beaten egg yolks. This wasn’t a great success. I realized later that some of the yolk cooked. I added 1 cup of sugar and turned the heat off. Should I turn the mixture into a bowl or make it in the saucepan. I continued with the recipe in the saucepan despite this potential cooked yolk problem and potential for hot batter before I realized I didn’t know if the instruction to add the “other half cup of milk” meant I’d used too much at the beginning or that I was supposed to add another 1/2 cup now to the 1 cup I’d used at the beginning. I decided to stick to the original 1 cup of milk and continued. I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the cake batter in the saucepan. When I stirred in the 2 teaspoons of baking powder the mixture became very foamy so I quickly mixed in the 2 cups of flour. The batter was now very thick. I spooned it into a greased square cake pan and baked it at 350 for 35 minutes.

Mrs. W. B. Wood of St. George is another frequent contributor to this cookbook. I’ve made her desserts and drinks so she’s become familiar to me. She’s Ellen Elizabeth Malcolmson and she married William Bruce Wood a miller who eventually headed up Dominion Mills in Montreal. However, in 1898 they lived in St. George, Ontario. The 1891 census records William B. Wood (42), Ellen Wood (38) and their three children Margaret H. (16), Ellen M. (14) and Alexander (10). Imagine how excited these children might be at chocolate cake for dessert.

I wonder if this recipe was so familiar to Mrs. Wood that she neglected a few important details. I am not impressed by my chocolate cake. It tastes of chocolate which is a bonus but the texture is a bit rubbery. I think I made some mistakes in interpreting this recipe. I should have let the chocolate and milk mixture cool a bit before adding the egg yolks. I should have poured everything into a bowl before adding the sugar and butter. The mixture should have cooled even further before adding the vanilla, baking powder and flour. I’m still not certain about the amount of milk but suspect I should have added another 1/2 cup. This would have made a more liquid batter but then it would have spread evenly in the pan. Mine ended up lumpy. I assumed it would smooth out in baking. It did not. My baking powder used all its “fizz” in the hot batter and didn’t have much left for lightening the completed cake as it baked. All together this cake was not a success. I didn’t even bother to make the icing. It would have been wasting good icing sugar and it would not have improved this cake.

Mrs. W. B. Wood, St. George

One and one-half strips of chocolate, one cup of milk, one cup of sugar,two cups of flour, yelks of two eggs, two small tablespoonfuls butter, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder, one teaspoonful vanilla. Boil the chocolate in the milk for a few minutes, stir, add the yelks well beaten, stir till thick, then add sugar and the other half-cup of milk and other ingredients mentioned. Either bake as layer cake with icing between, or in one large cake with icing on top.
ICING FOR CHOCOLATE CAKE – Three tablespoonfuls of milk, one-half cupful granulated sugar. Boil together for a few minutes or until it strings from the spoon. Take off the fire, flavor with vanilla and stir till cool before putting on the cake.


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Day 289: Oatmeal Cake

To keep with the Scots food theme I’m going to try another of the oat cake recipes in The New Galt Cook Book (1898). This time it is Oatmeal Cake from Mrs. W. B. Wood of St. George.

I’m not going to make a full recipe since there’s a good chance I won’t like these things. I’m cutting it in half. First I mixed 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of oatmeal. What sort of oatmeal? I used a package of Scots oatmeal. Next I added 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Finally I mixed in 1/2 cup of lard and then 1/4 cup of hot water. Once everything was blended I took some of the dough and rolled it out. I wasn’t sure how thin to roll them but I made it about 1/4 inch thick. I cut them in small squares. How big is a small square? I made them about 2 inches square. I baked them on a cookie sheet at 375 F. for 10 minutes. They were starting to look a bit crispy around the edges so I removed them from the oven. I tasted one while it was warm.

Mrs. W. B. Wood of St. George Ontario is a prolific recipe contributor to this cook book so I’ve talked about her several times. Ellen Elizabeth Malcolmson was born to James and Margaret when they lived in Niagara or at least that’s what I thought. Tonight I found Ellen and her husband in the 1881 census and it says she was born in Quebec — well the transcriber thought it but when I looked at the scan of the census page it is clear that it is an O not a Q so she was born in Ontario after all. Ellen married William Blake Wood in 1872. He was a miller and they had four children. Eventually they moved to Montreal where William headed up Dominion Mills. That’s where Ellen died when she was 83.

This version of oat cakes is like the others — an acquired taste. I used a coarse ground oatmeal and so the Oatmeal Cake has a bit of a nutty texture but it is still dry and bland like the typical oatcake. I happen to like them but maybe that’s memories of eating them in interesting places. You really have to like the flavour of oatmeal to enjoy eating an oatcake. Consider making this recipe if you like oatmeal porridge and oatmeal cookies otherwise it is unlikely you’ll acquire a taste for oatcakes.

Mrs. W. B. Wood, St. George

Two cupfuls flour, two cupfuls of oatmeal, one cupful of sugar, one cupful of lard, half cupful of hot water, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder. Roll them, cut in small squares and bake.

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Day 256: Cream Pie

It is cold enough today to have the oven on so I’m making Cream Pie. The recipe appears in the Pies section of the 1898 New Galt Cook Book.

I’m not all that fond of cream pie so I decided to cut the recipe in half. I put 1 cup of milk in a saucepan and then added 1 egg yolk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tablespoon flour, butter the size of half an egg. I turned on the heat and kept stirring until it was thick. I removed it from the heat and poured it into the pie. I baked it in a preheated oven until it was done. Time for dessert!

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

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

Mrs. C. P. Keefer of St. George contributed lots of recipes for The New Galt Cook Book so I’ve talked about her several times. Charles Parsons Keefer was married twice. His first wife Emily “Emma” Guppy died just three years after they were married. She was just 21 years old when she died of typhoid fever in 1880. The couple’s first child died at birth and their second child died just  few weeks after his mother due to dysentery. Seven years later in 1887 Charles married Ann Elizabeth Crandell. Her first husband had died four years earlier after over ten years of marriage. Ann didn’t have children in either marriage. Both she and Charles died in 1925. Charles had been postmaster and storekeeper in St. George at the time of the 1891 census and was also a member of the Masonic Order.

This was surprisingly good … at least for a cream pie. The custard was fine and works on its own just as well as in a pie. This was a nice comforting dessert on a cold night.

Mrs. C. P. Keefer, St. George

Yelks of two eggs, one-half cupful of sugar, one tablespoonful of flour, butter the size of an egg, two cupfuls of milk. Boil before putting it in the pie.

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Day 234: Lemon Cake

I’m visiting my parents for a belated birthday for my mother. I thought it might be nice to try making another cake from The New Galt Cook Book (1898). I selected a Lemon Cake recipe contributed by Mrs. C. P. Keefer of St. George.

I creamed the 1 cup butter first and then added 1 ½ cups of sugar. When they were well blended I started adding the 5 eggs one by one. I noticed part way along that the creamed mixture was starting to separate so I added one cup of the flour before adding all the eggs. Eventually there were 2 ½ cup flour in the mix along with 1 teaspoons of cream of tartar and ½ teaspoon of baking soda. The last ingredient was the 4 teaspoons of milk. Since the cake batter tastes great I decided to go ahead and bake it. I greased two round cake pans and spooned in the batter. I baked the cakes at 350 F for 35 minutes. I let the cakes cool a bit and then removed them from the pans.

While the cake baked I made the jelly filling. I put 1 cup of sugar 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 eggs and the juice of 2 lemons in a sauce pan. I turned the heat up low and started stirring. As the butter melted I began to see a problem. The egg whites were cooking rather than blending into the mixture. I stirred more and turned the heat up so that it would reach a boil faster, hoping that it would mix more thoroughly. The lemon jelly did become thick but it also had chunks of cooked egg white. I ended up straining the jelly before using it. I strongly suspect that Mrs. Keefer meant to say egg yolks rather than whole eggs.

Once the cake layers were a bit cooler, I put the bottom layer on a plate and then spread the lemon jelly on top. I added the top layer and was ready to taste. Ideally this cake would also have an icing/frosting too but I’ll try it the way it was written.

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

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

The first Mrs. C. P. Keefer of St. George is Emily (Emma) C. Guppy originally of Newbury in Middlesex County in Ontario. Her mother Rosa was Ontario born while her father William was from England. Emma was born in 1858 and married Charles Parsons Keefer in 1877. Her father was a merchant and her husband owned the store pictured here in St. George Ontario. Their first child was still born and their second child George lived for four months before dying of dysentry in 1880. Emma had died two weeks earlier of typhoid fever. This sort of tragedy haunts me. I find it so hard to imagine what it was like for her husband and even her own parents who were still living.

Charles Keefer remarried seven years later in 1887. His second wife was Ann Elizabeth Crandall who was born in Drumbo Ontario in 1854. She too had been widowed when her first husband John Hicks died. They didn’t have any children and her second marriage didn’t result in children either. An 1891 business directory shows that Charles continued to operate the combined post office and general store in St. George. Ann died in 1927 just two years after her husband.

The tangy lemon jelly goes well with the buttery cake. This is a wonderful cake! It is nice and light and refreshing. One of my tasters said that lemon cake is a good summer cake. Another commented that it isn’t overly sweet. It tasted great even without icing. If you wanted to “pretty” it up for serving I’d suggest a dollop of vanilla ice cream. We all agreed Mrs. C. P. Keefer’s Lemon Cake is a keeper recipe. It time travels well.

Mrs. C. P. Keefer, St. George

One and a half cupfuls sugar, one cupful butter, two and a half cupfuls flour, five eggs, four teaspoonfuls sweet milk, one teaspoonful cream tartar, half teaspoonful soda.
FOR JELLY. – One cupful sugar, two tablespoonfuls of butter, two eggs, juice of two lemons. Break all together and boil. For orange cake use orange instead of lemon.

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Day 220: Lemon Cream

I decided to try another of these egg based drinks tonight. I have a summer cold so the lemon and extra liquid might be helpful.

I buy the tartaric acid in small pouches at a make your own wine store. One packet is 1.75 ounces so I used just under half the packet. I also weighed the sugar to get 1 pound (about 2 1/4 cups). I mixed these two things in a large measuring cup and added 1 lemon cut up. I chose to cut it in slices but you could make the pieces smaller. Next I separated 4 eggs and added the whites to the rest. Finally I added 1 quart (4 cups) of boiling water. I stirred everything together and prepared to make a glass to sample.

Mrs. W. B. Wood of St. George is probably Ellen Elizabeth Malcolmson. She married William Bruce Wood in 1872 when she was about 19 and he was 24. Elizabeth had been born in Niagara while W.B. was from Scotland. The couple had three or four children (depends if Nellie and Ellen are the same person). Mr. Wood had quite the career as a miller and politician. He was mayor of Brantford and eventually the president of Dominion Mills in Montreal. It was there that both William and Ellen died when they were around 80 years old. Their two daughters were living with them well into their 40s. Their youngest child a son married and must have had an interesting life as he died in Singapore in his 70s.

Ad for Glasses and Beverage Servers in The Canadian Grocer summer 1898.

Ad for Glasses and Beverage Servers in The Canadian Grocer summer 1898.

This drink is so simple and quick and surprisingly good. I truly didn’t expect it to work based on the instructions and yet the sugar melted and the lemon flavour seeped out into the rest of the ingredients. I added 4 tablespoons to a large glass and added some cold water. Then I stirred in some baking soda. It foamed up and almost overflowed but it looked amazing. I took my first sip and realized I’d added a bit too much soda because at first it tasted like a baking soda and water antacid mixture. But then I got the tart lemon and tartaric acid and it was refreshing but the creamy foam makes it different from lemonade. Drinking this sort of foamy old-fashioned drink makes me feel like I’m in an old movie at a drugstore soda fountain with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. I can’t imagine this drink being bottled today. Not only would you miss the exciting moment when it starts to foam but I suspect the raw egg whites would be a problem. If you’d like to step back in time and don’t mind the risk of consuming a bit of raw egg white then give this a try. In the modern world you don’t even have to turn on the stove. Just boil the electric kettle and make yourself a Lemon Cream!

Mrs. W. B. Wood, St. George

One ounce of tartaric acid, one pound white sugar, whites of four eggs, cut up one lemon. Stir all together and add one quart boiling water. Put three or four tablespoonfuls of this mixture in a glass, fill up with cold water, add a little soda before drinking. This makes a nice summer drink. But do not make it in a tin vessel.

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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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Day 154: Caledonian Cream

Do you ever just want something decadent but don’t want to spend hours making it? Sometimes it seems the most delicious things require time and/or money but I think I’ve found something that seems lovely and sweet but won’t require a lot of time. In fact it doesn’t look like it needs cooking, a bonus on a hot evening. I’m going to make Caledonian Cream, a recipe contributed by Mrs. A. T. Reed of St. George for the 1898 New Galt Cook Book.

Sugar ad in June 1898 edition of The Canadian Grocer

Sugar ad in June 1898 edition of The Canadian Grocer

I cracked two medium eggs separating the yolks and whites. The yolks aren’t needed for this recipe and if I’d planned ahead I probably could find a use for them. I beat the whites and then tried to decide at what point to add the 2 tablespoons of white sugar. I’ve made meringue and often it is suggested to add the sugar when the whites are airy but are not yet stiff. Other times they say to beat the whites stiff and then fold in the sugar. I decided to try the first method partly because the whites just didn’t seem to want to get firm. I was using a hand rotary beater — what could be called a Dover mixer in 1898 — and my hand was getting tired. After I added the sugar the whites did get a little thicker but not to the point that they would stand on their own as the recipe required. I suspect there was still a bit of water on my beater or bowl.

Capture Jams and Jellies June 1898Although the whites weren’t stiff I decided to continue and added 2 tablespoons of red currant jelly and 2 tablespoons of black currant jam. I know it was supposed to be raspberry jam but I didn’t have any and I wasn’t sure what sort of currant jelly to use so I decided to use both black and red. I mixed the jelly & jam with the sweet whites and prepared to taste.

Mrs. A. T. Reed of St. George is a mystery! I expected to find her easily with two initials in her husband’s name but so far no luck.

I was surprised that this concoction tasted so good. It is light and fluffy and sweet but not cloying. It was also a bit creamy even though it doesn’t have any dairy in it, something I appreciate since I shouldn’t have milk. If you have concerns about consuming raw egg whites you can buy a carton of pasteurized egg whites. Even that won’t ease everyone’s fears but I can’t imagine heating this mixture. I suppose you could bake it but you’d end up with meringues not Caledonian Cream. I thought the title of this dessert sounded familiar and a quick internet search revealed that Caledonian Cream is a traditional Scottish dessert. No wonder it appears in a cook book created in Galt Ontario, an area settled by many people from Scotland. However, the recipes I found were different since they used cream, cream cheese and marmalade. Here‘s an example. Somewhere I have a cookbook of Scottish recipes and I think it also has a recipe for Caledonian Cream. I’m also making it at the wrong time of year since apparently it is a New Year’s tradition. Unfortunately, since I hadn’t whipped the whites enough, the mixture started to separate and wasn’t as appealing as in the first hour. I’m going to keep this recipe in mind since it is easy to reduce or multiply since currently the proportions are 2 whites x 2 T sugar x 2 T jam x 2 T jelly.


Mrs. A. T. Reed, St. George

Two whites of eggs, two tablespoonfuls loaf sugar, two tablespoonfuls raspberry jam, two tablespoonfuls of currant jelly; beat until they will stand alone.

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