Historic Everyday Eats – Sunshine Cake

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Greetings to all of my fellow food and history lovers! I am sorry that it has been so long since I last posted a historic recipe, but life has gotten in the way of my food experimenting time. ๐Ÿ˜‰ To make it up to you, I have found a recipe that very well may be the best one yet. It came from an 1896 cookbook for a girls’ cooking school (titled, of course The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book), and I can’t tell you how much I loved looking through this book and finding this cake recipe.

Boston Cooking School Cookbook

Plus, the author’s name is Fannie Farmer. That makes anything she writes pure gold. From what I could tell by her introduction in the book, she had a very scientific mind and had an eye to the future of proper dietary planning and its effects on personal health. Hats off to Fannie, a natural leader and a woman ahead of her time.

Since this is my birthday week, I wanted to make a cake if I could find a suitable recipe. I found one for which I already had all of the ingredients and supplies needed, so it was the winner! The recipe for “Sunshine Cake” reads as follows:

Sunshine Cake

“Whites 10 eggs.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

Yolks 6 eggs.

1 teaspoon lemon extract.

1 cup flour.

1 teaspoon cream of tartar.

Beat whites of eggs until stiff and dry, add sugar gradually, and continue beating; then add yolks of eggs beaten until thick and lemon colored, and extract. Cut and fold in flour mixed and sifted with cream of tartar. Bake fifty minutes in a moderate oven in an angel cake pan.”

Taking a shot at making egg whites stiff and fluffy is always daunting, but you know what? If our foremothers could do it without a stand mixer, I can certainly try with all of my modern amenities! Let’s see how my sunshine cake turned out.

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The ingredients: powdered sugar, eggs, flour, lemon (or in my case, orange–because it was what I had around) extract, and cream of tartar (not photographed–totally slipped my mind)! That’s right, just five ingredients.

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First, the hard part: separating 10 eggs and beating the whites until they turned from this yellow goop…

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…into this fluffy white mountain! This was all thanks to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. I beat the whites on high for about 8-10 minutes.

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I then turned the mixer on low and gradually added the 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.

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After the sugar was incorporated, I added the yolks of 6 eggs, beaten until they were thick and “lemon colored.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I then added in my orange extract (no, it’s not lemon, but it’s still a citrus and goes along with the “sunshine” theme). The resulting mixture was light and creamy.

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I then folded in the flour and cream of tartar by hand. You don’t want to overmix at this point–the batter needs to be airy.

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The batter went into my “angel cake pan” and into a 350 degree oven.

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50 minutes later, I had a perfectly golden brown sunshine cake. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I turned the cake upside down and cooled it on a cooling rack for an hour before taking it out of the pan. (I buttered just the bottom of the angel food cake pan to help it slide out easier.)

While my cake was cooling, I contemplated a frosting. After attempting one recipe and failing (I will try it again and make it work in the future–promise!), I decided to go with a super simple recipe I found in the same cookbook called “Confectioners’ Frosting:”

confectioners frosting

“2 tablespoons boiling water.

Confectioners’ sugar.

Flavoring.

To water add enough sifted sugar to make of right consistency to spread; then add flavoring.ย Fresh fruit juice may be used in place of boiling water. This is a most satisfactory frosting, and is both easily and quickly made.”

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In fact, this frosting was very simple. I heated two tablespoons of water to boiling in the microwave, added about 2/3 of a cup of sugar, and about a teaspoon of orange extract. Voila! Easy and delicious frosting!

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I poured the frosting on the cake and let it drip down the sides. The finished Sunshine Cake with Confectioners’ Frosting looked great!

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It tasted even better–light and fluffy but oh so flavorful!

Sunshine Cake was one of my favorite recipes to make so far. But really, I have loved all of the recipes with which I’ve experimented over these months, whether they turned out great or were duds. That’s just part of the process. This book said it best with this quote in its front pages:

Cookery means...

Cookery means all of that and so much more to me. How I love it so.

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