Tag Archives: Wood

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.

CHOCOLATE 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.

OATMEAL CAKE
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 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!

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 130: Tapioca and Orange

I got home from work tonight and wanted to relax for about an hour. I remembered that there are a few recipes in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) that require soaking an ingredient for about an hour. The first one I saw was Tapioca and Orange in the Pudding section so that’s what I’m making tonight. It was contributed by Mrs. W. B. Wood of St. George.

Tapioca ad in Canadian Grocer 1898

Tapioca ad in Canadian Grocer 1898

I found a bag of “small tapioca” in my pantry and put one cup in a bowl and added water. I’m not sure how much but at least 1 1/2 cups. After relaxing for an hour I found my tapioca swelled and no evidence of water. I probably should have used more water. I dumped the softened tapioca in a pot and added some warm water. Again I’m not sure how much but enough to cover the tapioca. I stirred it well and then turned the heat on. It quickly began to boil, become clear, and most worrying the tapioca bits seemed to melt away. I kept stirring and then removed it from the heat. I added a tablespoon of sugar and tasted. It was sweeter than I expected. I quickly chopped a peeled orange into pieces and added it. I scooped out a serving and sprinkled a bit more sugar on top. I was ready to taste.

Main Street of St. George

Main Street of St. George

Mrs. W. B. Wood is probably Ellen Elizabeth Malcolmson. She was born in Niagara in 1853 and somehow at 19 ended up in Galt marrying 24-year-old William Bruce (W.B.) Wood. He’d come from Aberdeen in Scotland when he was in his teens and was working as a miller when they married. They lived in South Dumfries Township when the 1891 census was taken and by then had three children Margaret (16), Ellen (14) and Alexander (10). William is elected a provincial Liberal MPP and introduces a bill in 1895 to allow women to become barristers in the Law Society. Ellen contributed nine recipes including oat cakes, several steamed puddings, a variety of cakes, and a cream concoction. You can see what their home looked like in St. George since it is now a bed and breakfast place. By 1911 the couple live in Brantford with their two adult daughters and Mr. Wood is the mayor of that city. Eventually they move to Montreal where he headed Dominion Flour Mills. William Bruce dies in Montreal in 1929 at the age of 80 and Ellen Elizabeth is 83 when she dies in Westmount Quebec in 1937.

Ad for Minute Tapioca in Canadian Grocer 1898

Ad for Minute Tapioca in Canadian Grocer 1898

I did not expect to like tapioca and orange. I’ve always had creamy tapioca pudding and enjoy it occasionally. I was shocked to realize I really liked this pudding. In fact I liked it better than the creamy pudding. I tried a bit of cream with it and it was okay. Whipped cream might be nice too. The orange was a great addition. This is a weird looking dessert but I’ll make it again and if you have dietary restrictions this might be an option. Next time I’ll try it with regular size tapioca. Oh and if you are having trouble locating tapioca try a specialty baking store like Ayres Baking Supplies in Waterloo Ontario. Other bulk food or health food places sometimes have it. Grocery stores carry the instant type of tapioca rather than the longer cooking/soaking type.

TAPIOCA AND ORANGE
Mrs. W. B. Wood, St. George

Soak a cup of tapioca for an hour in cold water, then boil, adding warm water enough to allow it to expand; when tender sweeten it and take from the fire, add an orange cut in small bits for flavoring. Serve with cream.

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Day 100: White Cake

Well last night’s turnip recipe created quite a stir among my friends. How can I top that on Day 100 — some sort of celebration cake? Should I risk another cake after day 98’s disastrous Snow Cake? I decided to be brave and tackle another cake from The New Galt Cook Book (1898). This time it is called White Cake and the recipe comes from Miss A. Woods.

Recipe for White Cake

Recipe for White Cake

This recipe does not list the ingredients in the order in which they are added. It is hard for modern cooks to realize that the formulaic recipes we see in cook books and magazines and online are a relatively new way of writing down recipes. This recipe includes direction which is not always the case. Reading through to the middle of the recipe I found that Miss Wood says to cream the butter and sugar so that’s what I did. I measured 1/2 cup of butter and 1 cup of white sugar and blended them well. Next I added 1/2 cup of milk and then 3 egg whites. After I beat the egg whites into the cake batter, I realized that I was supposed to first beat the egg whites and then add them to the batter. I hope this doesn’t affect the recipe too much. I added 2 cups of white flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. My cake batter turned into dough at this point. It tasted quite good at this stage but the recipe calls for flavour. I chose to add almond flavouring. It would have been easier to add it while the cake was still a batter. Once the flavouring was mixed in, I patted the cake dough into a greased cake pan and baked it for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. It seemed done and possibly over done at this point so I removed it from the oven and prepared to sample it.

In 1891 Miss Annie Woods was the 24-year-old daughter of widower James Wood and the late Sarah Augusta Helena Robinson. Three of Annie’s four brothers were also living at home in Galt Ontario. Both her parents were born in Ireland. Her mother had died of breast cancer in 1887 so Annie and a Scottish born servant named Annie McMillan took care of her father and her brothers. Mr. Woods was a Merchant Dry Goods and one of Annie’s brothers also worked in the store. Two of the boys were in the medical field. I lose track of Annie after the 1901 census. I’m assuming her father dies and I don’t know what happens to her.

White Cake fresh from the oven.

White Cake fresh from the oven.

I like Miss Annie Woods’ White Cake. It is a good sturdy basic cake and I kept imagining it with strawberries for Strawberry Shortcake. This is not a light fluffy cake. Instead it is dense cake …  but in a good way. I wonder if it would have been a little lighter if I’d beaten the egg whites first before adding to the cake batter. This would make a good base for other ingredients. It would also have been a good cake to pack in a lunch pail in 1898. I wonder if Annie made this for her brothers? I think I’ll take a piece to work tomorrow for my own lunch and see if it keeps well.

WHITE CAKE
Miss A. Woods

One-half cupful butter, two cupfuls flour, three eggs whites only, one-half cupful of milk, one cupful of sugar. Flavor to taste. Cream butter and sugar. Add well beaten whites and beat thoroughly, to this add milk, then flour and two teaspoonfuls baking powder.

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Day 72: Cup Pudding

I’m home a bit later today so I thought I’d make something warm and cozy that wouldn’t take too long to prepare or cook. I selected Mrs. W. B. Wood of St. George’s recipe for Cup Pudding. It is in the Pudding section of the 1898 New Galt Cook Book. I decided to make just half the recipe since the full recipe would require many small dishes and a large steamer.

I wasn’t sure if the butter was for the cups or if it was to go in the recipe. I decided to put the 1 tablespoon of butter in the batter rather than the pudding cups. The next decision was whether to add ingredients in the order written or to cream the butter and sugar first. I thought the proportions were a bit off for creaming but decided to go ahead. I creamed 1 tablespoon of butter with 3/4 cup of white granulated sugar. Next I added 1 egg and beat everything well. I mixed in 1/4 cup of milk. The recipe says to use sweet milk which is simply fresh milk rather than sour milk. I typically use lower fat milk for these recipes. I added 1 teaspoon of baking powder to 1 cup of flour and mixed well. I stirred it into the bowl and realized I didn’t need to add any more flour. I probably could have used a little less flour. I used both custard cups and individual souffle dishes as baking cups. Once they were buttered, I put a tablespoon of some interesting preserves in each cup. I happened to have some rose hip butter that I bought last year and hadn’t opened yet. I thought it might be interesting in this pudding. I filled the cups slightly over half full with the batter and then popped them into the steamer insert of my stock pot. I’d filled the pot half full with water and had it boiling before adding the steamer portion. I covered the pot with the lid and let the cups steam for 20 minutes. When the time was up I removed the insert and took out one of the cups of pudding to sample. They’d risen quite a bit and smelled quite good.

Mrs. W. B. Wood of St. George is probably Ellen Elizabeth Malcolmson. She was born in Niagara in 1853 and somehow at 19 ended up in Galt marrying 24-year-old William Bruce (W.B.) Wood. He’d come from Aberdeen in Scotland when he was in his teens and was working as a miller when they married. They lived in South Dumfries Township when the 1891 census was taken and by then had three children Margaret (16), Ellen (14) and Alexander (10). By 1911 the couple live in Brantford with their two adult daughters. For some reason they show up in Montreal for the 1921 census and that’s where they live until their deaths. William Bruce dies in 1929 at the age of 80 and Ellen Elizabeth is 83 when she dies in Westmount Quebec in 1937. In searching for more information and pictures of Mr. and Mrs. W.B. Wood I discovered he has a Wikipedia entry that you can read here.

The first bite of Cup Pudding.

The first bite of Cup Pudding.

The Cup Pudding is a perfect way to enter the world of steamed pudding. It is quick, tastes quite nice, and cutting the recipe in half makes just four servings. If you can figure out a way to steam vegetables on the stove you can steam this pudding even if you have to do each cup separately. There is also lots of room for your own touch. What preserve will you use? I recommend some sort of fruit preserve that has some visible fruit with it but jam or apple butter or any sort of sweet preserve will work. The rose hip butter was good but the pudding might be better with so chunks of fruit to add a different texture to the serving. You could experiment with sauces too or serve plain or with cream and sugar or ice cream. I made a similar recipe on day 43 but this is much better. The pudding batter is a touch sweeter and lighter and much more appealing.

How does Cup Pudding fit into the life of Mrs. W. B. Wood? I can see it as a nice family dessert for the five of them. Mr. Wood could have a hot pudding for supper even if Ellen didn’t know when he’d arrive home since this can be made quickly. This pudding might have come from Ellen’s mother since it could serve all seven people in the family without leftovers and would be very economical. According to Waterloo Region Generations Ellen’s father Scottish born James Malcomson was a carpenter and her mother Margaret was from England.

No matter its origins Cup Pudding will be part of my comfort food recipes for winters to come. It might not be stylish but it can still time travel to the 21st century.

CUP PUDDING
Mrs. W. B. Wood, St. George

Two eggs, one and a half cupfuls sugar, one-half a cupful of sweet milk, two tablespoonfuls butter, two teaspoonfuls baking powder, flour enough to make a batter. Butter your cups, pour in a small quantity of preserves, then fill with batter half way and steam twenty minutes.

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