I spent time today at a special Heritage Food event in Wilmot Township. I found out more about the history of some food related companies in the area and had a behind the scenes look at the website Waterloo Region Generations to which I frequently refer in this blog. Today’s recipe is in honour of the great time I had in St. Agatha this afternoon.
Florence Boullee from New Hamburg submitted a recipe to the 1906 Berlin Cook Book for something called Spanish Bun (p. 201). It appears in the Cake section of the cook book. In fact there are three recipes for Spanish Bun but Miss Boullee’s uses the fewest number of eggs.
Miss Florence Augusta Boullee lived in the village of New Hamburg and was 24 years old when this recipe appeared in the cook book. In 1901 she was living with her parents and two younger sisters. The Generations website notes that Florence married Edward Charles Richardson on February 15, 1911. He was an engineer in St. Marys. According to the 1911 census, her family were of German heritage and Evangelical. Her father’s occupation is difficult to read on the census form but with two of the daughters out of the house they had taken in two lodgers.
As with some previous recipes I had to decide whether the writer meant 1/2 cup total for butter and lard or if she meant 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of lard. Again I opted for 1/2 cup of each of the fats. I creamed the fats and sugar and then added the egg yolks. I’ll have to find a use for the two egg whites as they are not needed in this recipe. I made my 1% milk into sour milk by adding 1 teaspoon of vinegar to the cup of milk. I added all the dry ingredients (soda, flour, cocoa, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) to another bowl. Usually I don’t bother sifting since today’s flour is presifted but in this case the cocoa was a bit lumpy. I didn’t have a whole nutmeg to grate so I had to use nutmeg from my spice jar. I added 1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg but I would prefer to grate it next time. The flavour is more intense. I sifted the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and mixed. The batter was a bit like a brownie batter and the aroma reminded me of Mexican hot chocolate. I spooned it into a greased square cake pan.
Just as I was about to put the cake in the oven at 350 degrees F., I was invited to friends’ home for dinner. My cake batter and I went over to their place and popped the cake into the preheated oven as soon as I arrived. I’m not entirely sure how long the cake baked but I think it was about 35 to 40 minutes.
The smell of cinnamon and chocolate had us anticipating this cake and we had our first sample while it was hot from the oven. One 20-year-old young man said it was fantastic! Another young man said it was good but didn’t taste of chocolate. The general consensus round the table was that it was nice since it wasn’t too sweet. I didn’t ice the cake but that would add more sweetness and perhaps more chocolate flavour. Ice cream was also a good accompaniment and liqueur drizzled on top was a modern enhancement for some individuals. One person suggested whipped cream would be perfect with it. I tried the cake again when it was cool and the flavour was a little stronger – the spiciness was more apparent.
Miss Boullee’s was born on March 2 so in 1912 she would soon celebrate her 30th birthday. I wonder if this cake was ever part of her birthday celebrations? I have no idea why this recipe is called Spanish Bun. I imagine the Spanish part relates to the spices but I can’t fathom why it is Bun instead of Cake. I will definitely make this cake again. It is a sort of grown up chocolate cake.
1/2 cup butter and lard, 1 cup brown sugar, yolks of 2 eggs, 1 cup sour milk, 1 teaspoon of soda, 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 grated nutmeg, 1 1/2 cups of flour (not too full).