Vintage Cakes

I used the Simple Chocolate Cake recipe from Jane Brocket’s Vintage Cakes for Boy Lacer’s actual birthday cake and I promised then I would review Vintage Cakes properly later. Well I made the jam cake recipe today (it’s meant to be raspberry jam but I had to rush out to the corner shop, mid baking, to buy some more jam and the only jam they had was blackcurrant, as it looked like something was attempting to live in our raspberry jam in the fridge) and yep, the cakes ended up tasting very vintage, although that’s perhaps because they tasted like something I would have so made in Home Economics at school, so is late 80s vintage these days? Actually, joking aside, the blurb for this recipe states it was the sort of recipe that flour companies would have on their recipe leaflets in the 1930s and 1940s. The flat I live in dates from the 1930s, who knows, maybe something like these cakes have been made in my kitchen before, back in the days when people didn’t mind so much how small the blinking kitchen was, because they weren’t trying to squeeze a great big fridge freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, oven and microwave into it (obviously they’d have presumably had an oven but I can’t imagine much else). Anyway, the recipe was fairly easy to do, although I could, in no way shape or form cover the jam so that it wasn’t peaking out of the top (or smeared all round with my jammy fingers). The cakes, as I mentioned, do taste like I made them at school (what was it about food made in Home Economics, that meant it all, from cakes to soups, had the same background taste? or was that just me?) but I think they’re quite relevant to the 21st century to, because as befitting their austere creation in the 30s and 40s, they’re made with very simple, cheap ingredients and there’s not much sugar in them either, so reasonably good for your purse and not totally disastrous for your waistline. The recipe called for just 85g of sugar and 85g of butter, I am getting increasingly fed up of recipes which call for nearly a whole pack of butter and the sugar well into three figures.

So, so far, two recipes into the book and it’s quite a success, with the simple chocolate cake I made earlier I have so found my go to chocolate cake recipe, as it is finally a chocolate cake that everyone in my family likes (because it’s not too chocolate-y) and I can imagine making the jam cakes again because they require so few ingredients I’d be hard pushed not to be able to scrape them together if I fancied a spot of baking, whereas some recipes these days require a specific trip to the supermarket.

Other recipes in the book include a whole chapter on cake tin cakes, which thanks to Jane Brocket’s earlier books, I am a total convert to, because as she writes (to paraphrase her), there is something so comforting knowing that you’ve got a bit of cake put by somewhere. From that chapter I can see myself making the marmalade cake, the parkin, the gingerbread, the fresh apple cake and the plum streusel. From the everyday cake chapter I have a feeling the victoria sandwich would be a success, welsh cakes would make me feel even more ‘vintage’, taking me back to the early 80s this time, as a child in South Wales and the little individual banana bread loaves look cute. In the little cakes chapter rock buns would take me right back to the 70s, being one of the only two things my mum could bake (the other was rainbow cake, she was very good at that), whereas the orange teacakes (*ahem* jaffa cakes) look like they’d be an interesting challenge. In the posh cakes chapter I’d like to make the battenberg cake, the marble bundt cake and the upside down pineapple cake (oh another blast of my ‘vintage’ past). And in the fancies and frivolities chapter I’d want to make the fondant fancies, the macaroons and the eclairs. There’s also a celebration cake chapter but you could just as easily celebrate with the whole book.

As for the book itself (I am a little shallow when it comes to book design); all the recipes have photos (big thumbs up for that) but the book itself is presented in a bit of an old fashioned manner, which is probably totally befitting a book full of vintage cakes but I can’t quite decide whether the design is vintage as in ‘modern’ vintage (i.e. Cath Kidston and the like) or more bona fide, actual vintage, you know, I think it’s the latter…

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