Cupid at Home in the Kitchen, Michigan Stove Company, ca. 1910s, 32 p.
I found a really interesting project at the Duke University's Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. It's called the Emergence of Advertising in America 1850-1920. It's basically a database of over 9,000 rare & historic advertising images. One part of the collection is called the Nicole Di Bona Peterson Collection of Advertising Cookbooks. This portion alone contains 1360+ images from 82 cookbooks published between 1878 - 1929. As technology advanced and women were cooking with things other than what they grew or made themselves cookbooks became huge forms of advertisements. You can read more about the history of advertising cookbooks here.
Since this is a Retro Valentine's challenge I chose a recipe from a book called Cupid in the Kitchen. It's an advertising cookbook put out by the Michigan Stove Company in the 1910's. The first few pages present a story of how Mrs. Potter (aka Cupid) uses her matchmaking skills with the lovely single Rose Bud and bachelor George Garland!
I made the recipe for a One-Egg Cake (click here for recipe). I chose this recipe for 2 reasons. If I were going to make a Valentine's Day cake I would want something special and a 2 layered cake just says "I took that extra step and used 2 pans to make this so I must really like you". Also I thought it would be fun to try out a recipe that has no directions. I used my best judgement and set the oven at 350 degrees, creamed the sugar and butter together and then alternately added the wet and dry ingredients. The only thing I didn't realize was that even though the recipe said that the cake "makes a good two layer cake" the batter was only enough for one layer. So I ended up with only one layer - but I still really like you! Being it was left in the oven a too long, the bottom and sides turned a dark crispy golden brown. The cake was very dense and almost gummy - it had a huge moist crumb and I thought it was too sweet. It was almost rustic - heavy like corn bread. I wonder if this is what a standard cake tasted like in the 1910s. Not bad, but far from what people expect a cake to taste like today. Check out the RRC #6 round up!
Cookbook images from:
Nicole Di Bona Peterson Collection of Advertising Cookbooks
Emergence of Advertising On-Line Project
John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library