19th Century Cake Recipes

published by Molly Girl 822 on Feb 19, 2012

There are so many recipes pasted over my great great grandmother’s college notes. I did try the recipe for "Feather Cake." It was light and sweet. In 1866, the terminology of recipes can be a bit confusing, but not too hard to master.
Everyone can use a little cake in their lives, so go ahead try a few and see what happens. Ladies would send in household tips and recipes to the newspaper.

19th Century Baking Terms

  • all spice- allspice is a spice made from the dried berries of a plant known as Pimenta dioica
  • sweet milk-fresh milk
  • sour milk- milk with vinegar or lemon added
  • hot oven- 400 to 450 degrees F
  • quick oven- 375 to 400 degrees F

Chocolate Cake

“One cup of sugar, one egg, one-half cup of butter,  one cup of milk, and flour enough to make a thick batter, not too stiff; bake in three layers in a quick oven.”

The Filling

“Scrape two squares of chocolate, and one-half cup of milk and one tablespoonful of sugar, and boil till thick.  Spread between each layer and on top.”  Mrs. H. J. D.

Sponge Cake

“(Good for picnics and to decorate for fairs, etc.) Yolks of two eggs, whites of three, beaten separately, then together, one cup of sugar, one-half cup of milk, and one and one-half cups of sifted flour, one teaspoonful of cream of tartar, one-half teaspoonful of soda, flavor with lemon.  Beat well after each ingredient is added.  Bake in a hot oven.”

“Much of the success in sponge cake is baking.  A hot oven is necessary.  Not too hot, but the hotter without burning, the lighter the cake.”

Feather Cake

“One cup of sugar, one egg, one-half cup of sweet milk, one tablespoonful of melted butter, one teaspoonful of baking powder, one and one half cups of sifted flour.  Flavor with lemon or vanilla.”

Cake Without Eggs

“One cup of molasses or sugar, one cup of chopped raisins, one cup of sour milk, butter the size of an egg, one-fourth teaspoonful of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, a little salt, one teaspoonful of soda, and two cups of flour.  I often cut up dates, removing the stones, and use them instead of raisins.  This quantiity makes one loaf.”

Berry Cake

“Two cups of sour milk, two-thirds cup of molasses, and one teaspoonful of soda; make very thick with flour, then add one pint of huckleberries or blueberries, and spread on a large cake tin and bake in a quick oven.  To be eaten cold or warm with butter.  One-half of this recipe is enough for a small family.”  Gertrude

White Fruit Layer Cake

“Whites of three eggs, one cup sugar (granulated is best), half cup melted butter, half cup sweet milk, one and a half teaspoon baking powder, and two cups flour; bake in four layers.” 


“Three cups raisins, seeded, and chopped fine, one cup hot water and one cup sugar; boil until thick, and spread between the layers after they are baked.  Dampen the top of the cake after is is all put together and spread granuated sugar over it.  This cake is extra nice and will keep longer than most layer cakes.”

Tea Cake

Two cups of sugar, one half cup of butter, three cups of flour, one cup of sweet milk, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder, and three eggs.  Flavor to suit taste.” L. A. N.

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