American Dishes of the Past

New-York Historical Society’s Recipe of the Week:
Plum Cake

From an 1860s volume of recipes belonging to Caroline Butler Laing and her daughter, Mary Hunt Butler Reeves. Read more about the collection, plus see all the recipes to cook or bake here.

Plum Cake

Editor’s note: We recommend that less citron, raisins, and currants be used, also that the baking time be reduced from 4 hours to one. 
1 lb. flour
1 lb. sugar
1 lb. butter
10 eggs
½ lb. citron [use 1/4 lb.]
2 lbs. raisins [use 1 lb.]
2 lbs. currants [use 1 lb.]
1 wine glass [of] brandy—ditto [also]—wine
1 nutmeg [2 to 3 teaspoons, ground]
A little ginger, cloves, orange peel
Allspice to your taste
Bake 4 hours [Bake in a bundt cake pan for 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until top is golden brown]
—Mrs. Collins

Historic Recipe for Plum Cake

 

New-York Historical Society’s Recipe of the Week: Lemon Pudding

A recipe from the Duane Family cookbook collection (1840-1874). Read more about the collection, plus see all the recipes to cook or bake here.

Lemon Pudding

Line your dish with paste [flaky pastry dough]
2 cups sugar
Rind & peel of one lemon
1/4 cup of butter
1/2 pint milk
Work the sugar and butter thoroughly but you cannot cream it.
Eggs [4 large] stirred in gradually, last of all grate in the lemon peel.
Bake in a slow [300-325 degrees Fahrenheit] oven 3/4 of an hour, or until the centre is done.

Historic Recipe for Lemon Pudding

New-York Historical Society’s Recipe of the Week: Conserve of Plums

A recipe from the Duane Family cookbook collection (1840-1874). Read more about the collection, plus see all the recipes to cook or bake here.

Conserve of Plums

7 lbs. of plums, 4 lbs. sugar,
1 qt. vinegar. Scald the vinegar and sugar
3 days in succession pouring
it over the fruit.
Spice it with mace and
nutmeg, cloves and whatever
suits the taste. Any kind
of plums will do. Some
prefer small damsons
pitted, others large fruit.
Tomatoes prepared the same.

Historic Recipe for Conserve of Plums

 

New-York Historical Society’s Recipe of the Week: Washington Cake

A recipe from the Duane Family cookbook collection (1840-1874). Read more about the collection, plus see all the recipes to cook or bake here.

Washington Cake

A recipe from the Duane Family cookbook collection (1840-1874). The original recipe for Washington Cake is credited to Mary Simpson in the early 19th century. Simpson was a free Black woman in New York City who ran her own bake shop and sold the cake to commemorate the first president. She’s sometimes named as Mary Simpson Washington and described as a woman who was once enslaved by the Washington family.​

Mix together until quite white
3 cups of sugar
2 [cups] of butter
4 eggs
7 cups of flour
1 teaspoon full of salamatus [baking soda]
1 tea cup [just under ¾ cup] of milk
1 glass of wine
1 teaspoon rose water
1 pound of fruit [dried fruit like citron, currants, or raisins]

Historic Recipe for Washington Cake

New-York Historical Society’s Recipe of the Week: Rice Pudding

A recipe from the Duane Family cookbook collection (1840-1874). Read more about the collection, plus see all the recipes to cook or bake here.

Rice Pudding

1/2 pound of rice flour, boiled in 3 pts of milk when cold, beat 8 eggs well with 1/2 lb of butter & 1/2 lb of sugar, cinnamon, mace or nutmeg to your taste. Bake half an hour. If you please you can lay a puff paste [pastry] over the sides & rim of the dish; and put in raisins or currants, candied citron or other dried sweet meats.

Historic Recipe for Rice Pudding

New-York Historical Society’s Recipe of the Week: Scalloped Oysters

A recipe from the Duane Family cookbook collection (1840-1874). Read more about the collection, plus see all the recipes to cook or bake here.

Scalloped Oysters

Crumb some bread fine and season it with chopped parsley nutmeg & a little pepper (Cayenne Pepper is better than black). Put some raw oysters & a little broth in the bottom of a deep dish, then layers of the bread crumbs and oysters alternately and on the top of the dish crumbs of bread & small lumps of butter. Bake slowly.

Historic Recipe for Scalloped Oysters

New-York Historical Society’s Recipe of the Week: Election Cake

A civically minded recipe from the Duane Family cookbook collection. During the 19th century, Election Day was considered a holiday and women would bring special celebratory cakes to polling sites to feed the male voters, many of who traveled a long way to vote. Read more about the collection, plus see all the recipes to cook or bake here.

Election Cake

3 cups of warm milk
1 cup of sugar
1 yeast or buy 2 cts worth
Add enough flour to make a stiff batter at night—
In the morning add:
3 cups of sugar
2 1/2 of butter—better to use 1 cup of lard and 1 1/2 of butter
1 egg
1 lb raisins
1/2 lb citron
1/2 oz mace
[Note: You can substitute allspice or cinnamon]
4 nutmegs
[Note: 1/2 a nutmeg is equal to 1 tsp ground nutmeg; because nutmeg and mace have a similar flavor, consider halving the nutmeg]
1/2 gill wine
[Note: “Gill” is a liquid measurement equal to four ounces in the U.S. and five ounces in the U.K.]
1/2 gill brandy
This makes fore good sized loaves—It will be easy to half this quantity—
If you don’t get fresh lard use all butter but it’s common to use lard in country

 

Historic Recipe for Election Cake

New-York Historical Society’s Recipe of the Week: Almond Cake

A recipe taken from the Phila Delaplaine Reed diary and cookbook, circa 1824-1834. She was a member of the Delaplaine family of New York State, with branches in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. Read more about the collection, plus see all the recipes to cook or bake here.

Almond Cake

1 pound of butter
1 pound of flour
1 pound of sugar
1 pound of blanched almonds pounded in rosewater
A little cinnamon, cloves, and grated lemon peel

Historic Recipe for Almond Cake

 

New-York Historical Society’s Recipe of the Week: Jumbles

An 1843 recipe from the Duane Family cookbook collection for a traditional spiced cookie. Read more about the collection, plus see all the recipes to cook or bake here.

Jumbles

3 lb flour
2 lb sugar
1 1/2 lb butter
6 eggs
1/2 caraway
Some rosewater

Recipe for Jumbles – a traditional spiced cookie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New-York Historical Society’s Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Brownies

From a book of recipes, probably American, compiled by an unidentified person during the early 1900’s. Most of the recipes are for desserts, breads, and pastries. We don’t yet know what the “Delano” refers to next to the name.

Chocolate Brownies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 squares of chocolate
1/2 cup flour
1 cup  chopped walnuts
Pinch of salt
1/2 [tsp] vanilla
2 eggs beaten separately
Bake 20 minutes in a hot oven

 

Read more about the collection here, and see all the recipes to cook or bake here.