I selected Mrs. Cressman’s recipe for Fig Cake (p. 191) since it uses sour cream rather than milk. I’ve run out of milk and a surprising number of recipes in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book require this ingredient. However, I had some sour cream that needed to be finished.
I creamed the butter and sugar together and added the sour cream. While the molasses slowly dripped into the cup, I added the eggs. Once the molasses was incorporated, I mixed the flour, soda and currants together and added them next. Finally I dripped in the oil of lemon. Lemon extract can be used as a substitute for oil of lemon. The batter was very thick and difficult to spread in the cake pan. I spooned it into a greased cake pan and baked at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes (this was too long).
While the cake baked I made the filling. I chopped almost an entire package of dried figs to reach one cup. I added the sugar and chopped figs to a saucepan and then tried to figure out how much to add for “a little” water. I poured in 1/2 cup since my figs were very dry. I thought they might absorb some water.
I let the cake cool a little and then sliced it across to make two layers. Once the filling was somewhat cool I spread it on top of the bottom layer and then replaced the top. I imagine Mrs. Cressman also iced/frosted her cake but I left it plain.
The top of my cake was over done so next time I will try baking the cake in two smaller pans so that it takes less time to bake. The cake is more of a fruit cake with a strong flavour of molasses and the only figs are in the filling. The cake was okay but the fig filling was a surprise. Figs were not part of my life growing up and so I rarely think to add them to anything. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the fig filling but it was surprisingly good. I might try using it again with a different sort of cake. It certainly suits this molasses cake but I think it might go well with other sturdy cakes.
There are many Cressmans in the Berlin area in 1912 so I can’t discover which Mrs. Cressman submitted her recipe for fig cake. Is it Mary Ann married to Allan, or Mary Ann married to Menno, or perhaps it is Leah who is widowed? They are just the ones living in Berlin rather than Waterloo. I picture this cake served with pie for a Cressman family dinner or as part of a church woman’s tea. I think this cake would keep well in a cake tin but might become stale sitting out on a pantry shelf. If you like molasses give this cake a try ….. and be brave and include the fig filling.
1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup molasses, 3 cups flour, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon soda, 5 drops oil of lemon, 1/2 cup currants
Filling – 1 teacup chopped figs, 1/2 teacup sugar and a little water. Boil about 10 minutes.