Today was the annual Maple Syrup Festival in Elmira so I selected a recipe in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book that uses maple syrup. Mrs. Honsberger’s recipe for Oat Meal Cake calls for a cup of maple syrup! Reading the recipe more closely I discovered that the maple syrup is in the icing.
This is an interesting cake. I started mixing ingredients quite confidently. I creamed the butter and brown sugar and added the medium eggs. It was the boiling water and baking soda that stumped me. Dissolving the baking soda in water made sense but do I add this hot liquid now? I was afraid it would cook the egg and melt the butter. I decided to mix the oatmeal, cinnamon, and cloves, into the batter first and then add the boiling water/baking soda. This worked well. Finally I stirred in the flour. I poured the cake batter into a greased cake pan and baked it for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Mrs. Honsberger is probably Alberta C. Stoddard. Her husband Jerome F. Honsberger was a doctor and they had two young children. The 1901 census shows a busy household. Not only is there 32-year-old Alberta and Jerome (41) but there is infant Nina and 4-year-old Gordon, Jerome’s brother Henry, a 28-year-old lodger named John and a 22-year-old domestic servant named Mary. They are all of German heritage except Mrs. Honsberger who is Scottish. The Honsbergers are Methodists, the lodger is Evangelical and the servant appears to be Lutheran although the writing is difficult to read. The lodger is a bookkeeper and the brother is a commercial teacher. In the 1911 census the brother and lodger are gone from the household at 97 Frederick street but there is still a maid.
I was expecting this cake to be a bit dull and heavy. This isn’t a delicate cake but it was amazing straight from the oven. The oatmeal adds an interesting texture to the cake and the cinnamon and clove flavour is evident but not overpowering. I don’t think it will keep well as it will likely dry out quickly.
I iced the cake later. I made the icing by creaming the butter and then added the icing sugar and finally the maple syrup. I didn’t add the milk as the icing was already a bit liquid. I might add a little more icing sugar next time. I think it is important to use a good strongly flavoured maple syrup since otherwise the maple flavour. The icing goes well with the cake. It is a good hearty cake and I will make it again.
OAT MEAL CAKE
2 eggs, 2 cups of brown sugar, 3/4 cup of butter, 1 cup of boiling water, 1 teaspoon soda in water, 2 cups of oatmeal, 1 1/2 cups of wheat flour, 1 teaspoon of cloves and cinnamon mixed.
Icing – 2 cups of icing sugar, 1 cup of maple syrup, 1/2 cup of butter, sweet milk to make a paste.