Today is Election Day in the United States. Although Canada doesn’t have a day like it, we do tend to pay attention to the result. Canadian cookbooks sometimes had recipes for Election Cake, recipes likely copied from American cook books. The 1906 Berlin Cook Book doesn’t have Election Cake but I decided to make Mrs. A. Phelan’s recipe for California Cake. The two countries are intertwined in 2012 just as they were in 1906. People moved back and forth across the borders for work and family visits and sometimes to live permanently. In 1906 the US president was Theodore Roosevelt and the Canadian prime minister was Wilfrid Laurier.
I creamed the butter and sugar and then added the eggs and milk. I sifted the flour and baking powder together and then stirred it into the batter. I decided to bake the cake in bread tins. I greased the tins and baked the cakes for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. The frosting has me a little worried. Raw egg yolk? I think this is the type of frosting that is spread on the cake and then put in the oven for a quick broil. I mixed the egg yolk, brown sugar and cinnamon, and spread it on the cakes when they came out of the oven. I popped them back in for 5 minutes and then took the loaves out to cool before slicing and tasting.
Mrs. A. Phelan might be Annie Phelan. She was listed in the 1901 census as household head. Annie was a 65-year-old widow living with her 31-year-old daughter who worked as a machine hand. Annie came to Canada from Germany when she was a child.
I have no idea why this is called California Cake. Perhaps the recipe originated with some one in that state? Maybe it was a last minute tribute after the San Francisco earthquake. It happened in April 1906. That disaster was big news in Canada and there were people from Berlin visiting the city when it happened. Just as some Canadians were visiting the east coast of the US when hurricane Sandy hit last week.
Fortunately the cake is not a disaster. It is very good and the frosting worked out well too. Baking the cake in a loaf pan makes it more like a pound cake. It takes a little longer to bake but turned out well. The cake has a nice texture and although it doesn’t have a special flavour it still tastes good. The frosting really helps the cake shine since it provides something different.
2 cups sugar, 1 cup butter, 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons baking powder. Put in 3 cups sifted flour. This makes 2 cakes, bake in cake or bread tins. Frosting – yolk of one egg, 1 tea cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, stir well.