Just when I think I can’t bear another day of cooking a daily recipe from The New Galt Cook Book (1898) I receive some sort of boost to keep me going. Yesterday I heard from a young urban couple about how much they enjoy reading about it. Tonight I had the privilege of speaking with people at a meeting of The South Dumfries Historical Society. I spoke about my project and the ten women from that township who contributed recipes to this community cook book in Galt. I also brought tonight’s recipe — Clove Cake — for them to sample and some Orange Creams using the recipe from Day 30. Mrs. C. P. Keefer of St. George (South Dumfries Township) contributed the Clove Cake recipe.
It is time to bring out your food scales for this recipe. I attempted to check the number of cups when I weighed the ingredients but neglected to write them down and it’s been eight hours since I made the cake. I’ll check my memory against internet suggestions for weight conversions. I started by weighing the brown sugar. One pound is about 2 1/4 cups of brown sugar. I cut a block of butter in half and had my 1/2 pound (1 cup) of butter. I use salted butter. Since my fridge is keeping things extremely cold it took a while to warm up the butter enough for creaming. I cut it into smaller pieces to help the process along. Once the butter and brown sugar were creamed together, I added the four eggs. This time I used large eggs since that was what was available at my corner store. Next I mixed the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. I am running out of some ingredients and haven’t had time to do a big grocery shop so I pulled some cake and pastry flour from the cupboard and used it. I weighed the flour and found that 1 pound was about 4 1/2 cups. I added 2 heaping teaspoons of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of ground cloves, 1 tablespoon of ground nutmeg and 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon. I mixed those well and added the 350 gram package of Sultana raisins. This was not quite the pound I needed but I didn’t have any more raisins.
I realized after the cake was in the oven that I’d forgotten to chop the raisins. That was an important step for some raisins as they could be much larger than today’s but also require more preparation including washing and stoning. I mixed the raisins with the dry ingredients and then added everything to the wet ingredients. I also poured 1 cup of milk in the bowl. I started mixing everything together and then poured the batter into a greased oblong pan. I put it in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. I’d planned to check it after 30 minutes but after 15 minutes I 1ealized I’d forgotten an appointment. I checked the cake but it still needed more time. If I left the cake in the oven for my entire time I was away I risked burning the cake or worse but if I took the cake out it would collapse and I’d have to start over again. Then I discovered that my new to me stove has a “turn the oven off at ___ o’clock” feature! I calculated how much time the cake needed and how long it would have to stay in the oven until I got home. I set the oven to turn off after another 20 minutes. I came home to an oven that was off, a cake that was cooked and not burned. It was probably slightly overcooked but the quick taste I tried while warm was fine. I left it to cool and then packaged it to take to my talk.
Mrs. C. P. Keefer is Ann Elizabeth Crandall. She was born in 1854 in Drumbo Ontario and lived there with her family as a child. She married widower Charles Parsons Keefer when she was 31. They were married in Windsor but moved to St. George by 1891. Both had been widowed young. Ann’s first husband died soon after they were married and Charles’ first wife Emma Guppy had died along with their baby boy. I don’t know how Ann Elizabeth became connected to the Galt Cook Book but she has seven recipes in it.
I liked this cake. I chose this recipe among the various possible ones from St. George women because it seemed familiar but not the kind of cake that is popular today. The spice flavours are very prominent but not overpowering. If you really don’t like cloves or nutmeg this might not be the cake for you or try reducing the amount of these spices a little. However, it won’t be Mrs. Keefer’s Clove Cake. The cake was a bit crumbly which I think could be due to the cake & pastry flour. That sort of flour is great for lighter cakes but might not be the best choice for a cake with raisins. The longer time sitting in a cooling oven also contributed to the crumbling texture of the cake. Several of the people at the meeting said they liked the cake and there were suggestions for adding icing including a caramel style icing. The taste of the cake reminded one person of a cake that was served with caramel drizzled over it. A plain butter cream icing could also work or one of those cooked icings. The orange creams were also popular and someone suggested putting the creams on the cake. Clove Cake is an old fashioned tasting cake but one that can be served in 2014 too.
Mrs. C. P. Keefer, St. George
One pound brown sugar, one pound flour, one pound raisins, half pound butter, one cup milk, two large teaspoonfuls baking powder stirred well into the flour one tablespoonful cloves, one tablespoonful cinnamon, one tablespoonful nutmeg, four eggs; chop the raisins.