Day 140 Date Cake

Today I was asked by the Waterloo Historical Society to share a few treats from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book at their annual May meeting. I provided samples of Mrs. Breithaupt’s Sponge Cake and Mrs. Doerr’s Cocoa Sticks. Both were well received.

The Mayor of Kitchener Carl Zehr spoke about the upcoming 100th of cityhood and someone from the event planning committee talked about the various ways the city will be celebrating. Check out their website   I’m looking forward to the worlds longest picnic. Does anyone want to join me in enjoying some picnic food from the cookbook at this Guiness Book event on July 15? Dr. Ulrich Frisse talked about Berlin’s transition from town to city in 1912. The Berlin Cook Book is very characteristic of that era with only a few recipes that are clearly German but many contributors identify themselves as being of German heritage. Eventually I should try to see if the proportion of German and other ethnicities among the contributors parallels that of the community as a whole.

Some of the members of the WHS have roots in this community that are many generations old. I invited people to check my database to see if their family name appears in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. The Lipperts did find a relative in the cook book so I have chosen to make Date Cake today using the only recipe submitted by Mrs. G. J. Lippert.  I hope the Lipperts will let me know if the recipe is still a family favourite and provide some more information about Mrs. G. J. Lippert.

The 1911 census reveals an interesting picture of 38-year-old George Jacob Lippert and his 36-year-old wife Bella. This multi-generational household living at 29 Roland includes the couple, their 14-year-old son Ellroy, Bella’s mother Sophia Lowes (65), sisters Ada Lowe (41),  Amy Florence Lowe (39) and brother Norman R. Lowes (20). George is listed of German racial/tribal origin, Canadian nationality and Presbyterian religion. He’s the manager of a furniture factory — most likely his own Geo J. Lippert Table Company. The only language he commonly speaks is English.  Bella, the contributor of the recipe is of English origin while the rest is the same as her husband. Her occupation is listed as none. Their son is given the same origin as his father and must still be in school. The Lowes are all of English origin. Sophia has an income, Ida and Amy are milliners in a shop, and Norman is a bookkeeper at a furniture factory. From the Waterloo Generations website I’ve discovered that George was Roman Catholic as a child. I found the couple and little Ellroy living in Guelph for the 1901 census where Bella’s heritage is listed as Scots this time and George is a wood carver.

I creamed the butter and brown sugar and then added the medium eggs. I grated 1 square of unsweetened chocolate and then added the boiling water to it and stirred well. I mixed the chocolate with the creamed mixture and then added the sour milk (1/2 cup 2% milk with 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar) and vanilla. In a separate bowl I mixed the flour, baking soda and baking powder together and stirred in the chopped dates. It took four cups of chopped dates to reach one pound. Finally I added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mixed well. I poured the batter into 2 greased cake pans and baked at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

I can’t comment on the icing as I haven’t made it yet but the cake is delicious alone. The combination of chocolate and dates is amazing and one I have rarely experienced . This is a time consuming cake to make since the dates must be chopped and the chocolate grated. A modern cook might be able to speed things up with a food processor if it can handle these two tasks. I can imagine Bella (Lowe) Lippert serving this to her extended family or at a tea party at church or in her home. This version of Date Cake is highly recommended.

1 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup grated chocolate mixed with 1/2 cup boiling water, 1/2 teaspoon soda, 1/2 cup sour milk, 2 level teaspoons baking powder, 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 pound of dates chopped. Mix lightly and bake in layers. Make an icing of 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup grated chocolate, seven tablespoons milk and a small piece of butter, boil five minutes, put chopped walnuts between layers and on top.

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2 Responses to Day 140 Date Cake

  1. loli says:

    Sounds delicious!

  2. I served this cake to a large group of people of differing ages. It was a big hit with numerous requests for the recipe.

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