Today the electricians arrived to update my home from its early 20th century state. Perhaps I will have more than one outlet in the kitchen when they finish next week. Berlin had electricity quite early and was the first community to turn on the lights using hydro electricity from Niagara Falls in 1910. I don’t need electricity when using the cook book except for my stove. Just in case I lose the power to my stove temporarily during this work, I thought I’d be sure to use it today. It’s been a while since I made doughnuts or crullers from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book so it seemed a good time to try Fried Cakes using a recipe contributed by Mrs. A. M. Snyder.
I mixed the sugar and eggs first and then added the regular milk. Sweet milk is simply fresh milk rather than sour milk. I continued with the lard and baking powder. I added a bit of salt and about 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. I assumed this was another recipe where the author believed everyone would know to add flour. I added 5 cups of flour. Generally I use the number of teaspoons of baking powder as a clue to how much flour is needed. This meant I had a batter for dropping rather than rolling out. I took my usual precautions with hot fat and dropped small amounts of the batter from a teaspoon (I used another teaspoon to put it off) into the fat. They turned over on their own and I removed them when both sides were brown. It is important to keep the fat hot but not too hot. I ended up with one doughnut ball which was crispy outside and raw batter inside. I turned the heat down a little and they were much better.
Mrs. A. M. Snyder could be Catherine A. Cressman. She married Albert M. Snyder in 1895 according to the Waterloo Generations web site. The 1911 census shows the 41-year-old Snyders living at 33 Schneider Avenue with Viola (12), Paul (10) and Ruth (3). Ruth was born two years after the cook book was published. There’s also a 17-year-old orphan living with them. Her name is Lilly Dickson and her heritage is Irish rather than German like the rest of the family although they were all born in Ontario. However, everyone’s religion is listed as Mennonite. Mr. Snyder is a shipping clerk at a button factory.
I probably should have mixed the lard and sugar together as a first step or added melted lard to the batter as a liquid. Adding it as lumps late in the process didn’t work well. The amount of baking powder means the doughnuts are much lighter than the hard rocks I’ve produced with some of the other recipes. I would try it again but since this is recipe would feed a crowd I’ll need lots of people around to sample.
2 cups sugar, 2 cups of sweet milk, 3 eggs, 2 tablespoons lard, 6 teaspoons baking powder, salt and nutmeg to taste. Fry in hot lard.