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Traveling to the 1950s to Bake a Cake

Today I traveled far and wide as I rode BART from 16th Mission to Pleasant Hill. I flipped through the pages and recipes of a cookbook from 1954. I could imagine a "Donna Reed"-styled homemaker busy preparing these dishes for fellow transplants.

When things get hectic, I tend to get stressed out. Growing up I would deal with stress by traveling to faraway places in my head. More recently I would deal with stress by retreating into my nest or taking off in Ghost. While hiding out in my nest, I would cook or bake. For those who always wondered how I had a freezer full of prepared lunches and dinners now you know. Today was another stressful day - especially for a perfectionist. Nothing I did at work today met my internal standards. So, wanting to accomplish at least one thing and do it well, I felt compelled to bake.

One of the themes at our wedding involves cooking, which both cubes and I enjoy. Highlighting our combined love of cooking and the women who influenced my cooking led to a search for those tomes I grew up with. My paternal grandmother traveled a lot with her husband who ran a travel agency specializing in the Far East. From her and my aunt my love of the Orient was born. One cookbook I came across while helping clean out her storage was Rangoon International Cook Book published in 1954 by The Women's Society of Christian Service of the Methodist English Church, Rangoon, Burma. My grandfather's favorite place to visit was Bali and growing up I frequently confused Burma and Bali. For this reason, I thought it only fitting to flash back to the past to make a Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake (recipes in the late 50s frequently used shortenening in place of butter) from a cookbook produced in Burma.

Luckily cubes helped me with the cake as I misread teaspoons of vinegar as tablespoons. So far the cake looks good, rising nicely. We'll know for sure whether the effort was a success in about 5 minutes when the cake comes out of the oven. Keep your fingers crossed!

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Given the exotic source I was expecting the chocolate cake to require fish sauce or parrot claws or something.

There's some desserts with more exotic ingredients - trying to figure out where to procure them first.

So how did the cake turn out?

The cake was light and moist. I made two modifications to the recipe. I used 3/4ths of a cup Fructose crystals in place of 1 1/2 cups sugar. I also used Earth Balance Natural Shortening in place of Crisco Butter-Flavored Shortening.

It took a little longer to cook than I anticipated (still getting used to a gas oven) and at one point instead of resetting the timer I accidentally turned off the oven. I'm definitely going to make it again.

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