Monday, January 30, 2017

Historic Food Project 2: White Perfection Cake

Slice of White Perfection Cake with Frosting
The second challenge in the Historic Food Fortnightly was Culinary Vices.  Since this category included desserts, I decided to make a cake.  I selected the White Perfection Cake because there is a note that says "very good" written across the upper left corner of the recipe in my Great-great Grandmother's copy of Practical Housekeeping.

The recipe for the cake is pretty simple:

Three cups sugar, one of butter, one of milk, three of flour, one of corn starch, whites of twelve eggs beaten into a stiff froth, two teaspoons cream tartar in the flour, and one of soda in half the milk; dissolve the corn starch in the rest of the milk, and add it to the sugar and butter well beaten together, then the milk and soda, and the flour and whites of eggs.  This cake is rightly named "Perfection" -- Mrs. C. Jones, Bradford Vt.

One layer of White Perfection Cake
There are some notes written on the recipe with 1/2 added after the word flour and one crossed out before corn starch and 1/2 substituted.  I made some additional modifications when I made the cake and used three cups of flour and 1/2 cup of cornstarch which still made a fairly stiff cake batter by modern standards.  I was reminded while it was mixing of the stories my mother told of her Grandmother breaking spoons while mixing stiff dough for cookies or brownies.  I had some egg whites left over from baking Christmas cookies and bought a carton of egg whites at the grocery store instead of separating more than a dozen eggs for the cake and frosting.  I baked the cake at 350 degrees F for almost 30 minutes.  I was able to make three 9 inch round layers.
White Perfection Cake interior

I made frosting for the cake using the following recipe:

Beat whites of two eggs to a stiff froth, add gradually half pound best pulverized sugar, beat well for at least half an hour, flavor with lemon juice (and some add tartaric acid, as both whiten the icing).  To color a delicate pink, use strawberry, currant of cranberry; or the grated peeling of an orange or lemon moistened with the juice and squeezed through a thin cloth, will color a handsome yellow.  This amount will frost one large cake. -- Mrs. W. W. W. 

2-Layer White Perfection Cake with Frosting
I used powdered sugar and my KitchenAid stand mixer and beat the mixture on high for about 5 minutes.  I added lemon juice at the end and then frosted two layers of the cake generously.  I could have frosted all three layers, but I am not always successful at getting three layer cakes to stay together and I tasted one of the layers when it came out of the oven.

The cake is delicious and it looks beautiful with the frosting on it.  The lemon juice in the frosting prevents it from being overly sweet and complements the flavor of the cake. It looks beautiful.  I can see why the recipe is marked as "very good" in the cookbook and why the cake is called Perfection.

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