I’ve always had a soft spot for old recipes. Thumbing through dusty piles of vintage cookbooks always brings something new to my baking and usually leads me to explore new flavor combinations or techniques. Julie Richardson brings old recipes to new life in her book Vintage Cakes. Her re-discovered treasure trove of old recipes left by the previous occupants of her Baker and Spice Bakery in Portland, OR, was put to use, as well as collecting books and suggestions from family, friends, and strangers alike.
After updating, tweaking, revising, testing, and generally creating something new from something old, Richardson tailored old-time sweets for today’s palettes. You’ll find old-fashioned favorites such as Wacky Cake, The Harvy Wallbanger, and Blackout Cake.
Richardson’s commentary and research on the recipes are a treat throughout the book. A favorite recipe of mine from Vintage Cakes was her Shinny Cake - her take on the celebrated Lane Cake made famous by the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Her version has a filling made of toasted coconut, dried cherries, hazelnuts, and of course, bourbon.
Her ‘deconstructing’ old recipes and bringing them back to their former glory is appreciated. In her exploration, she discovered that some recipes started off as homemade but turned to commercial mixes when boxed cake mixes were all the rage in the late 1940s. She worked to bring them back to homemade using modern ingredients, and as she states in the introduction, ingredients that may be more wholesome and of a higher quality than those that were available in the early 1900s.
And while she mostly stays true to the original recipes, she shook things up and made some old recipes her own. The Italian Cream Cake is traditionally frosted with a sweet cream cheese frosting but she instead used a chocolate ganache enriched with toasted pecans.
Vintage Cakes is an old cookbook collector’s dream, not only for recipes that bring back memories, but for modernizing them using ingredients familiar in today’s kitchens. It’s always a treasure to serve something to a new generation that was honored a generation before you.
- Vintage Cakes: Timeless Recipes for Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Bundt, Chiffon, and Icebox Cakes for Today's Sweet Tooth by Julie Richardson
- Random House Crown: Ten Speed Press; 2012
- ISBN13: 9781607741022
- Hardcover, 176 pages
Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the publisher. Any opinions are my own.