The 1906 Berlin Cook Book has a number of recipes with royal words in the title. In honour of the Victoria Day (Queen’s Birthday) weekend I thought I’d make Prince of Wales Cake. There are four recipes with the same title in this cook book and every one is different. I decided to use the first one which was contributed by Mrs. Julius Gerbig.
This recipe provides some challenges when it comes to instructions. I used my regular method for mixing cakes but took a wild guess when it came to baking and assembling this cake. I started by separating 3 medium eggs. I like recipes like this that use both parts of a separated egg.
I began with the dark batter. I creamed the butter and brown sugar and then added the yolks. I made the milk sour by adding 1/2 a teaspoon of white vinegar to the 1/2 cup of regular 2% milk. The milk went into the mixing bowl. I chopped the raisins. Chopped raisins mix well but it is also an indication of the preparation required by raisins. Seeds had to be removed from raisins in 1906 as there weren’t any seedless raisins. I mixed the dry ingredients and double checked those baking soda and spice measurements. Yes, it is really a tablespoon of soda and cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon of cloves and the gratings from an entire nutmeg! This is one spice filled cake. I mixed everything together and spooned the thick batter into a greased cake pan. I baked it for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F.
I also mixed the light batter. I creamed the butter and white sugar. I added the regular 2% milk since sweet milk simply means fresh milk. I mixed the dry ingredients and again double checked the measurement for baking powder before adding the required 2 tablespoons. I added the dry ingredients to the wet ones and beat the egg whites before folding them into the mixture. This cake batter went into another greased cake pan and into the oven alongside the dark part for 35 minutes.
I struggled with how to bake this cake. Looking at the batters they seemed similar to the batters for marble cakes. I wondered if Prince of Wales Cake was like the checkerboard style of cake called Battenburg (supposedly Queen Victoria’s favorite cake). If this cake was going to be made into a checkerboard I needed to bake each part in a rectangular or square pan. Very brief research showed that cakes named Prince of Wales were made in all sorts of ways. I did see one or two versions that were baked as two layers which were placed one on the other to assemble the finished cake. I decided that was a likely for Mrs. Gerbig’s recipe and so selected round cake pans.
I made Caroline Gerbig’s Maple Cream fudge earlier and discovered that her husband Julius was a clerk and later a machine hand in a furniture factory. The couple have two children a boy Julius (21) and a girl Eleanora (15) who are a store salesman and a “tailoress” in a store by 1911. The family lives at 103 College Street along with a nephew Henry Zilliax age 18 who works as a druggist in a store. I wonder if Zilliax is Caroline’s maiden name or if Julius or Caroline’s sister married someone named Zilliax.
Once assembled the cake looked interesting. I put the dark part on the bottom and the light on top. I used just a basic icing so that I could concentrate on the two different layers. Both the dark cake and the light cake have a good texture. The dark cake is spicy and has far too much soda. I suggest a modern cook ease back on the baking soda and perhaps the nutmeg also — unless you really like nutmeg. I really couldn’t taste the cinnamon as it was overwhelmed by everything else. The light part is a nice plain white cake. The cornstarch is a good addition in this case. I think both layers will dry out quickly so this cake should be made no more than the day before it is eaten. I’m not sure I will bother to make this cake again. I might consider making the light part if I can find a use for those three egg yolks that will be leftover. Sorry Mrs. Gerbig but your version of Prince of Wales Cake doesn’t travel well to the 21st century.
PRINCE OF WALES CAKE
Dark Part — 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, yolks of 3 eggs, 1/2 cup sour milk, 1 cup chopped raisins, 2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon soda, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon cloves, 1 nutmeg
Light Part — Whites of 3 eggs, 1 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup sweet milk, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder.