Several months ago (or is it a year or so?) my dear grandmother gave me the wonderful gift of a couple cookbooks that used to belong to my great-grandma Ethel Carson (1884-1987).
One, Quaker Cereal Products and How to Use Them, was copyrighted in 1927. The other, which looks more well-used, is missing the front cover. I'm not sure of the date or title, but it appears to be a Rumford Baking Powder cookbook.
Both are splendid examples of how quality used to matter more (in nearly everything). The Quaker Cereal Products book is filled with beautiful illustrations.
Before the recipes in each chapter are brief historical and scientific facts about the grains.
Rumford's cookbook gives cooks detailed instructions on how to improve sanitation and efficiency in their kitchens, gives tables of weights, measures, and proportions, and explains various methods of cooking and how to formally set a table and create a menu.
Here's a recipe I recently tried from Rumford's cookbook. The cake is very moist and has just the right sweetness; however, to me it is more like a spice cake than a rich chocolate cake (though perhaps I used too weak of a chocolate).
Rumford Chocolate Cake
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 level cups sugar
1 egg, beaten light
3 ounces chocolate, melted
3 level teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup milk
2 level cups flour
3 level teaspoons Rumford baking powder
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 level teaspoon salt.
Cream the butter; beat half the sugar into the butter, the other half into the beaten egg and combine the two; beat in the melted chocolate; add the three teaspoons of sugar and the boiling water to the chocolate left on the dish and stir and cook over the fire until boiling, then let chill. To the first mixture, alternately, add the milk, and the flour sifted with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt and beat in the chilled chocolate mixture . Bake in layers about fifteen minutes; in a sheet about thirty minutes.
If your taste for chocolate still isn't satisfied by the time you've finished stoking the fire after making this cake, try the recipe below found at an awesome cooking website I recently discovered.
"Let's face it, a good creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people." --Audrey Hepburn
Chocolate is a timeless treat.