Vintage Victuals: Love Apple Cake

love apple n. : A tomato. [Probably translation of French pomme d'amour (from the former belief in the tomato’s aphrodisiacal powers) : pommeapple + deof + amourlove.]

1937 and wouldn’t that pattern make a fabulous dress print?

For those of you not “in the know,” I collect old cookbooks. I frequently read them cover to cover, like a novel. Sometimes, I even cook something out of them. I’m particularly attracted to recipes that use tomatoes in unexpected, perhaps ill-advised ways, as evidenced by the now-classic Ketchup In Dessert experiment. So when my mom bought me a copy of something called Royal Cook Book from 1937 (brought to us by Royal Baking Powder), and I then found a recipe inside for Love Apple Cake, well, it was just a matter of how soon I could get into the kitchen!

With the exception of Jell-O booklets, I usually don’t see the same unfortunate recipe repeated in books spanning the years. However, when I found myself at the grocery store knowing that I needed a few things for this recipe but not remembering exactly what, I did a quick online search and found a nearly identical recipe printed in the February 11th, 1935 issue of The Pittsburgh Press. So we can assume that this recipe has some redeeming quality, in order to have survived for at least two years.

An excellent Valentine party dessert, according to the Pittsburgh Press, February 11th, 1935

Now, this is not a (semi-)traditional tomato soup spice cake. This depression-era Love Apple Cake is a three-layer white cake with a tomato filling, and then coated with 7 Minute Frosting. Let’s break this down into segments:

White Cake

Oops. Not-so-white cake.

You can use your favorite recipe for white cake (may I suggest this one if you’re baking at altitude) but because I’m recipe testing, I’m using the specific recipe in the book. The caveat here is that the White Cake recipe is proportioned for two 9-inch layers, but the Love Apple Cake instructions say to pour it into three 8-inch layer pans. So okay, the layers will be thin. No problem. Except that the instructions make no adjustment in time or oven temperature! I follow the instructions as written, and wind up with three thin, overcooked (okay, burned) layers. NOTE: The only difference twixt the book recipe and the newspaper recipe is that one calls for granulated sugar, and the other for confectioner’s sugar. Even the time/temp are the same (375° for 25 minutes).

7 Minute Frosting

I finally have a double boiler! Yay! More on that in Friday’s post. I can now make 7 Minute Frosting without fumbling around with a bowl set on top of a saucepan. What I don’t have, however, is a hand mixer or egg beater. The Shoes And Pie Test Kitchen is equipped with a stand mixer, a stick blender, and whisks. What do I need an egg beater for? Well, 7 Minute Frosting for one thing. I whisked as hard as I could by hand for 7 minutes to no avail. I even poured the resulting mixture into the stand mixer to see if I could fix it, but wound up with something akin to marshmallow fluff. I should have saved it for future Rice Krispie Treats, but foolishly poured it down the drain (damn!) and started over. I wound up making an Italian Meringue instead. (Note for non-cooks: same ingredients, different cooking method.) Good thing I overbought eggs!

Tomato Filling

This is the part you’re curious about. The recipe specifies unseasoned tomato juice, but I could find no such thing at the supermarket. Even the low-sodium tomato juice contains added salt so I wound up buying a can of tomato paste (ingredients: tomatoes) and thinning it with water to a juice consistency. Everything else went smoothly, although I’m still a bit perplexed by the instruction to “cook mixture until thick and clear.” Have you ever SEEN tomato juice? It’s not going to magically become translucent. I am going to assume the author means clear of lumps. Maybe. For your use and enjoyment, the Tomato Filling recipe:

1 cup unseasoned tomato juice
grated rind of 1 lemon
â…” cup granulated sugar
2½ tbs cornstarch
1 tbs butter
2 tbs lemon juice

Heat tomato juice with lemon rind. Mix cornstarch and sugar and add [to] tomato juice, stirring all the time to prevent lumping. Cook mixture until thick and clear, stirring constantly. [Remove from fire and] Add lemon juice and butter. [Cool before filling cake.]

*wherein any additional information in the newspaper version is shown in brackets.

End Result

Overall, it does make for a serviceable cake. It would look even nicer if I decorated it with red candy hearts, as suggested in both versions. The contrast between the white layers and red filling would be more pronounced if my layers hadn’t yellowed from over baking. But how does it taste? Surprisingly good. The cake layers are a bit chewy because they’re, have I mentioned, over baked. I will be making this again, though, so I’ll make adjustments there. The Italian Meringue cooks up even faster than a 7 Minute Frosting, but they’re so close in all respects that the choice is yours to make. The tomato filling is mostly lemon-flavored, due to the zest and lemon juice. My version may be somewhat more tomato-y than intended, because I self-mixed a pretty thick “juice” from the tomato paste. Still, anyone who didn’t know would be probably not be able to guess the extra flavor. You’ll wind up with a bowl full of leftover egg yolks, so try to have something in mind to do with those. I didn’t, and cringed from the waste when I poured them down the drain. Next time, I’ll use them to make a batch of lemon curd. Which is also a delicious cake filling!

Monday Rounderp

The Whip, Lakeside Amusement Park, 2012

I’m going to try something new here, and will list out the things that I plan to write about this week. This will both force me to actually have a plan, and encourage me to stick to it. In addition, you can choose in advance which days to skip. But you’d never skip a day of ShoesAndPie, would you? NO OF COURSE YOU WOULD NOT. Right? Right?

Now, while this means that some Mondays could conceivably be as simple as a To-Do list, we all know how I run at the mouth…erm, keyboard. And Mondays invariably occur after Saturdays and Sundays, during which I don’t write posts, so there’s bound to be something to write about which happened over the weekend. Maybe.

WEEKEND IN REVIEW

After a few false starts this season, I finally got an evening in at our local Lakeside Amusement Park. Woody’s own tagline for the park is, “Where The Fear Is Real.” This once-stunning amusement complex still has a unique beauty, but I’ll readily admit that I avoided it for more than a decade after moving to Colorado because the entire place looks as though it will fall down any minute. My first visit wasn’t until the 2010 season, and I now try to make it at least a once-annual adventure. If you follow my Instagram feed (If you don’t use Instagram, you can view my feed via that link. Hover over a photo to read its caption.), you’ll see that the rest of this week’s daily #signporn posts will all be from Lakeside.

My mom bought me a coffin. I bought her an urn. (Long story.)

Also a weekend thing: my mom brought over this little coffin and so far the only use for it I’ve found is as a not-very-convenient case for my eyeglasses. Any ideas?

Plymouth Fury fender badge, 1965–67

Another weekend thing: A Plymouth Fury emblem that I ordered arrived, and now I need to figure out how to attach it to my currently favorite vintage (leatherette) handbag. I’m guessing that I’ll have to trim, if not outright remove, the original mounting posts. But of course I hate to make a permanent change like that if there’s another way! Do any of you have experience with this?

Okay, on with the week’s schedule!

MONDAY: You’re soaking in it.

TUESDAY: I acquired another small stack of vintage cookbooks over the weekend (thanks, mom!), including a Royal (baking powder) cook booklet from 1937. While skimming it, mom found a dubious recipe that seems to be custom-tailored for the ShoesAndPie Test Kitchen. Let’s try it!

WEDNESDAY: I now spend a few weekends every summer camping at dusty, dirty, noisy, primarily-male-dominated drag strips. There is nothing in that sentence that inspires thoughts of clean, well-lit, convenient bathrooms, amirite? After discussing the problem with A Friend Who Knows About These Things, and much reading of reviews, I wound up buying myself a device called a pStyle. My lone (so far) test has gone well, and I’m sure I’ll, um, “get better” with practice. However, carrying this item on my person at a race track will hardly be discrete. It’s not as though I tote my purse around with me, and it sticks out about 4 inches from even my roomiest cargo pockets. But lo! I am Creative! And I plan to sew up a cute little drawstring pouch that I can clip on to whatever I’m wearing and most people will probably assume it’s a sack for sunglasses. Let’s see how it goes!

THURSDAY: Let’s keep the creative juices flowing and see if I can’t make a replica of an unaffordable (for me) vintage necklace from new supplies found at a craft store.

FRIDAY: Kitchen p0rn! A look at some of the newest (and some merely new-to-me) acquisitions in the ShoesAndPie Test Kitchen.

Poodles and polka-dots!

ALL WEEK: I hope, I really really hope, to have enough time to get a whole stack of vintage aprons steamed, photographed, and listed at Tiddleywink Vintage in between all of the cookbooks that I’ve been listing. Keep your eyes peeled!

Society Page

While researching the designer label on an evening gown I picked up this weekend for Tiddleywink Vintage, I came across the “society” page of The Pittsburgh Press, November 15, 1947. I hope you like these snippets. Click ’em to see ’em larger.

Dolores (Carr) Rothrauff, 1947
Bunnye (Wedner) Kramer, 1947
Dorothy (Parrish) Briney, 1947
Social Situations, 1947
Juke Box Wail, 1947
Long Skirts, 1947

Other News:

A day in Leadville, CO
  • The fella and I, along with his younger sister and their parents, went up to Leadville (Colo.) for a day trip over the weekend for the parents’ 40th anniversary. The dad lived in Leadville until 1958, so it was a trip jam-packed with anecdotes and information that really made for an interesting day. We saw the hospital where dad was born (now condos) as well as the tar-paper house where his mother was born in 1906. We went past the rectory where her father first stopped—ready to receive his last rites—when he arrived in Leadville, because he was sure that his arid-climate nosebleed was in fact a sign of the high-altitude-induced brain hemorrhage that would soon cause his death. 🙂 An antiques shop in Leadville is where I found the aforementioned gown, but seeing as it’s not exactly a fancy-dress town, I’m not sure if it ever saw a dance floor locally. Perhaps it caught a performance or two at the Tabor Opera House before being packed away for many years.
  • Also acquired: my first piece (no, really!) of Fire-King Jadite ovenware! I’ve long been on the hunt for a single, affordable, useful piece. Yes, I could use a mug, but I have this whole matchy-matchy thing going and I likely wouldn’t. I once found a solo fridgie dish-and-lid for a reasonable price, but it was chipped. Then lo, what do I spy in the corner of the antiques store but what appears to be a smallishy loaf baker which is not only marked a reasonable $22 but also conveniently on sale for 20% off! Once I got it home I learned that it’s actually a fridgie dish but with the less common (?) “Colonial” style rim, and it should have a clear lid. This set came with the same clear, handle-less lids used on the Gay Fad painted series. Those seem more easily found online, so I may buy myself a Gay Fad set just to steal the lid. ANYway…pale green bliss!
  • The cherry-pie-that-didn’t-turn-out, I have decided, will make a delicious addition to a batch of homemade ice cream. Mmmm, ice cream!
  • The wardrobe dep’t. for “Vegas” placed another order! Woo!
  • Um, probably other stuff! Zippity doo-dah!

Very happy to be working this week on a project for Cooper House, who are not only pretty darn fab designers (and coders), but also wonderful friends. However, between that and a client meeting I have on Wednesday and a high-maintenance-pet-sitting gig I have going all this week: go away. I’m busy. I’ll be blogging (I hope!) but you have a reprieve from the baking/canning/cooking posts this week. Ta for now!