Tonight I am speaking at a women’s group and making Potato Cake for them at the home of the host. We’re also sampling some of the other goodies I’ve tested. This is a chance for other people to try using these recipes. One woman is making Mrs. Doerr’s Cocoa Sticks and the other is making Clara Stoecker’s Maple Mousse. She’s also courageously trying a recipe I haven’t made yet — Ginger Beer. I’ve made this special non-alcoholic drink using another old recipe but not the Berlin Cook Book version. This group of women reminds me of the sort of group that might have been instrumental in initiating and sustaining the creation of the Berlin Cook Book until it was published in 1906.
After setting up for my presentation, I began making the cake. I creamed the butter and sugar and then added the eggs. I grated the chocolate but had trouble measuring 1/2 cup. I estimated 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate would be approximately the right amount. I mixed the grated chocolate with the other dry ingredients (flour, spices, and baking powder), before adding it to the bowl. I mixed in the mashed potatoes and milk and stirred until the mixture was smooth. Finally I added the chopped almonds. I greased a square cake pan and poured in the cake batter. It was interesting using someone elses stove again but I was able to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. I checked the cake after 30 minutes but it needed an additional 10 minutes. I left it to cool until the meeting and my talk were done. When it was time for refreshments, I cut the cake in small pieces and served it. I didn’t tell the women the name until everyone had sampled.
Mrs. J. Brandt is probably Katharina Louise Rehburger who married Jacob Brandt. They had one child. In 1911 the census reports the family are living at 26 Francis Street North in Berlin. There are two other possible J. Brandts but they both live in Waterloo rather than Berlin. Katharina Louise is in her late 30s when the cook book is published. Jacob is a foreman in a tannery. Their 18-year-old son (an only child) is studying at a university in 1911. This means the family have a bit of money to be able to pay his way to higher education. Berlin was a little unusual since a high number of factory workers were home owners. I wonder if the Brandts were among them? Soon I will have time to check the rate roles and find out more about all these people. I want to map out everyone’s residence since it might reveal more about the interrelationships among the various contributors.
Amberlee made Mrs. Doerr’s Cocoa Sticks and they were good. Catherine’s version of Clara Stoecker’s Maple Mousse was a big hit. The Ginger Beer turned out really well — if you like ginger beer. Some of the women had seconds of it while others had a little sip only. Watch for this recipe in a week or two when I also have some samplers around. I hope mine turns out as well as Catherine’s! I liked it but it was time to try the cake!
After we sampled the cake, I explained the ingredients including the mashed potatoes that provide the title of the recipe. Many of the women liked the cake. Some found it a little too spicy — especially the cloves, while others enjoyed that aspect. Several commented on the moistness of the cake. I think this could be called a good keeping cake as it would take some time to dry out. I think it might become mouldy in hot humid summer weather if kept for several days. Instead it was perfect for a nice fall day like today. I would consider making this cake again — especially to try measuring the chocolate more accurately. I liked the amount of chocolate but it might be nice with a better quality of chocolate. The almonds should be toasted or eliminated I think as they didn’t really add anything to the cake. I had debated using ground almonds but that might have altered the texture of the cake. I think Mrs. Brandt’s Potato Cake is another recipe that can time travel to 2012.
1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup boiled mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup bitter chocolate, 1/2 cup milk, 1 teaspoon each of allspice, cinnamon and cloves, 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds.