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Baking a cake wasn’t a piece of cake for 1915 cooks

This week's recipes include Black Hill Cake and Cocoa Cake
From the Kitchen by Joyce Walter

Authors of the 1915 cookbook produced by the Five Roses Flour Company provided very definite rules for homemakers about to take on the task of baking a homemade cake.

“Clear the table of every non-essential. Perfect cleanliness should be observed in every detail. Have sleeves rolled up above the elbows, and have hands and nails in perfect condition,” homemakers are advised.

“Read the recipe thoroughly at least once. Collect all necessary ingredients and utensils beforehand.”

Authors suggested the best utensil for mixing or beating the batter is an earthen or stone bowl. And for best results, the bowl should be slightly warmed.

In case the homemaker was a novice, she was directed that cakes should not be stirred but always beaten, bringing the batter up from the bottom of the bowl at every stroke. “A consistent upward moton tends to improve the texture considerably,” authors said.

Other useful information included: too rich a cake breaks up easily; too much sugar makes a thick, hard crust; and too much egg produces a tough cake.

This week’s recipes offer two cake recipes from the Five Roses Cookbook. Roll up those sleeves and bake away.

• • •

Black Hill Cake

Bottom layer:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • butter the size of an egg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sweet milk
  • 2 level tsps. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 pint flour 


  • 2 tbsps. molasses
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice

Beat sugar and butter together, add egg and milk and beat again. Combine dry ingredients, mix well then add to the wet mixture.

Pour two-thirds of this mixture into a buttered cake pan.

For the topping, mix the molasses, cloves and allspice. Add to the remaining one-third of the bottom layer mixture. Pour over the bottom layer. Smooth.

Bake in a moderate oven. Cool before serving.

• • •

Cocoa Cake

  • 1 cup sweet milk
  • 2 tbsps. cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Boil 1/2 cup milk and cocoa slowly until thick.

When thick, stir in the beaten egg, stir and cool until cold.

When the mixture is cold, add the white sugar, butter and the other 1/2 cup milk. Dissolve soda in a bit of warm water and add to the mixture. Then add flour and vanilla and stir. Pour into a long, buttered pan. Bake in a moderate oven until a broom straw inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Joyce Walter can be reached at


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