Tonight I am cooking from my parents’ home using their 1961 gas stove. It is surprising how many things have changed in this kitchen since I last lived here over 25 years ago and yet I could still find the cinnamon!
There are three recipes for Raisin Layer Cake and one for Raisin Cake in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. I decided to try the first one simply because it was the first one. This recipe was contributed by Mrs. J. R. Eden. The one below is identical except for the order of the ingredients, the inclusion of a flour amount, and the exclusion of baking powder. It also says to bake in layers. I suppose Mrs. Eden assumed that was self-evident from the name and that everyone would know the amount of flour needed for a cake.
I began by creaming the butter and brown sugar. I then added the eggs. I made sour milk by adding 1/2 tsp of lemon juice (I couldn’t find any vinegar) to the 1/2 cup of 1 % milk. I added 2 cups of flour, the baking powder and baking soda and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Once everything was mixed I spooned the batter into two greased cake pans and baked for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
John R. Eden and Helen Ziegler were married in 1884. This was a second marriage for Helen as her first husband died three years after their wedding. She was a Mennonite originally but became Anglican (Church of England) like John. She was also several years older than both her husbands – fourteen years older in the case of John. Helen never had children. John was mayor of Berlin twice for a year each time. He also spent time as a teacher and an investment broker. In 1911 according to the census, John (51) and Helen (who says she’s 60) lived at 86 Queen Street North with a domestic servant named Lydia Brown age 19.
The cake was quick to make (except for chopping the raisins). I should have added some more spice. Probably double the amount would make it truly a spice cake. This is a good basic keeping cake, like many of the others in the cook book. These are the kinds of cake Mrs. Eden could have ready for unexpected guests as well as for a regular household meal. I wonder what her life was like. She seems a little unconventional since she’s older than her husband and they don’t have children.