I bought several old cookbooks at an estate sale last week. They are not really cookbooks, but recipe booklets and pamphlets, published by manufacturers to promote their products. This one was printed in 1916.
The Cook's Book promoted the use of K C Baking Powder as a substitute for the "old fashioned" ways of raising bread and pastry (such as yeast, sour milk and soda or cream of tartar and soda). The booklet explains that baking powder is a combination of the "exact proportions" of soda (to create the gas that raises the dough or batter), and acid, which breaks up the soda.
The Jaques Manufacturing company, which made K C Baking Powder, guaranteed, on page three that their product is pure and healthful, and absolutely protects you against the failures in baking so common with other powders.
The booklet goes on to spend FOUR pages explaining what baking powder (and double action baking powder) is, and how other manufacturers try to trick you to gain your trade. It seems that salesmen, back then, went door-to-door demonstrating false properties of baking powder to unsuspecting housewives.
The next page explains that SO-CALLED self-rising flour, is just plain flour mixed with baking powder ingredients, salt and sometimes sugar, and explains how you can make your own.
For two cups of flour, add two level teaspoons of baking powder plus one-half teaspoon of salt.
This formula, by the way, still works.
Then there are recipes for everything from Cornbread, Waffles and Biscuits, to Lady Baltimore Cake and Yorkshire Pudding.
On page fifty-four you will find cooking hints, such as how to regulate the heat of your oven, including explanations of why certain items should bake at moderate or hot temperatures.
A timetable for meats and fish is included. Yep. My grandmother must have read this because it says to roast turkeys 15 to 20 minutes per pound, which is exactly what she told me when I was first learning to cook.
It also gives helpful proportions, such as eight eggs per quart of milk for custards turned from the baking dish (compared with four eggs per quart for custards served in the baking dish).
So here is the recipe for Hermits. A Hermit is a rich cookie flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg. Today, the cookie is either a bar cookie or a drop cookie. In 1916, it was rolled and cut with a cutter.
K C Hermits
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup chopped raisins
1 tablespoonfuls chopped citron
1 level teaspoon K C Baking Powder
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon, each, ground cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoonful ground cloves
Sift together, three times, the flour, baking powder and spices. Cream the butter gradually beat the sugar into it; add the chopped fruit, the beaten eggs and then the flour mixture. Knead the dough on a floured board, roll into a thin sheet, but into rounds and bake in a moderate over. The cakes may be finished by pressing a sultana raisin into the center of each before baking. If necessary, add more flour while kneading.
Nowhere in the booklet does it tell you, but a moderate oven is 350 degrees F.