(The first entry in this series gave four recipes for holiday breads and cookies.)
Many years ago, my grandmother exchanged recipes with her neighbors in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Many have the name of the housewife who shared her treasured recipe, and a few were from her own mother (that is, my great-grandmother). We still have these recipes copied out in my mother's handwriting.
The problem is that at times the instructions are scanty. Such as, no temperature or time given for baking a cake. Well, geez Louise, everyone knows how to tell when a cake is done, right? It's the same directions, over and over, 350 or 400 degrees, 30 or 35 minutes unless you divided the batter into three layer tins, then it is about 20 minutes.
And the other problem is that so many younger women never even had home economics classes, so they have absolutely NO IDEA what the abbreviations or instructions mean. So I repeat the following basic instructions from the last time I ran a Recipe Exchange article. The recipes given here do not use yeast but I include info about using yeast anyway.
A capital T – like so – means Tablespoon. Also tbsp, also tbs.
A lower-case t – like so – means Teaspoon. Also tsp.
BEAT means to mix vigorously.
FOLD means to GENTLY mix the ingredients. You usually use a spatula instead of a spoon for this operation. Insert the spatula down into the bowl and lift up the mixture, folding it over onto the top of the mass of floury goodness. Do this just enough to more or less create an even distribution of ingredients, because some ingredients like a whipped mixture should NOT be beaten or they lose volume.
GREASING TINS: Baking tins should be greased before you pour the cake mix into them. This means using a small brush to apply margarine or butter to the inner surfaces of the tins; sometimes you also dust flour over the grease, too. Alternatively, you can just spray them with Pam, or cut circles of baking paper to fit your pans.
YEAST: Some of these recipes use yeast. If it is used in a dough, then you will have to let the cookies (such as the horns) sit on the baking sheet while they rise. Otherwise, it does not mean that making the recipe will take took much longer than one using baking powder or baking soda. Method: pour the packet of yeast into a little bowl of warm water, maybe a quarter cup. The water should NOT be hot; too hot water will kill the yeast before it can grow. You want the water to be just lukewarm. Add a bit of sugar and flour to feed the yeast beasties. When it looks bubbly, you know that it is growing and ready to be added to the rest of the ingredients. Happy yeast, happy bread and cookies. They have quick yeast now, too, which is much faster – but check your package label well.
A word about letting the dough rise. We used to set the covered bowl on a window sill that was getting sun. Alternatively you can set it inside the stove where it will not catch drafts. Stove should be off or at lowest setting.
TESTING FOR DONENESS: Some of you may have trouble knowing when items are done. Cookies will be pleasantly browned on top. Cakes are tested by sticking a toothpick into it; it if comes out clean instead of coated with batter, it is done. Loaves are similarly tested by sticking a clean knife into it, because you have to reach deeper inside. Cakes and loaves should also pull away from the edges of the pans.
The Good Part
Here are some mom-tested chocolate frosting recipes. Most use a double boiler. Water goes in the bottom unit and the frosting mix in the upper unit. Makes for a gentler even heat.
2 egg whites 1 c. white sugar
3 T. water pinch of salt
Optional- 1 t. vanilla
Put egg whites, sugar, water and syrup in top of double boiler. Beat until mixed well. Place over rapidly boiling water. Beat constantly with electric beater while it cooks for 7 minutes or until it will stand in peaks when beater is raised. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Beat. Fills and frosts 2 layer cake, 8 or 9 inch.
2 T. butter/margarine 1 egg yolk
½ t. vanilla 2 c. powdered sugar
2 squares melted chocolate plus cold coffee
Method: (in top of double boiler)
Mix butter with egg yolk, vanilla and one-half cup of the sugar. Add melted chocolate and remaining sugar. Beat till it stands in peaks. Remove from heat. Add enough cold coffee to make a spreading consistency; beat together.
Another Chocolate Frosting
1 c. sugar 1 egg
1 square bitter chocolate 4 T. cream or milk
Place ingredients in saucepan. Boil 2 min. in top of double boiler. Remove from heat and beat till cool.
1 c. sugar 3 eggs, beaten
1 c. sweet milk (condensed) sour cream (doesn't say how much, sorry!)
Boil ingredients together in double boiler for 5 min. You may add 1 c. raisins or nuts or coconut which you continue to boil till soft. Pour over cake. Melt 2 squares chocolate and drizzle over top.
Hungarian Chocolate Frosting
3 squares bitter chocolate 1 and ½ c. powdered sugar
2 and ½ T. boiling water 3 egg yolks 4 T. butter
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler. Add sugar and hot water. Mix well. Add egg yolks one at a time. Keep stirring. Add butter, a teaspoon at a time. Mix until smooth. Spread on cake.
2 squares bitter chocolate 2 T. butter
1 c. white sugar 1 small can Carnation milk
Cook in double boiler until thick. Use medium heat till boiling, boil for 5 min. Serve hot or cold over ice cream.
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Holiday Special
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Chocolate Treats
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Chocolate Cakes
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Rhubarb
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Danish Kringle