Wednesday, April 04, 2012

New Series: Cooking with Betty Crackpot

I was having a bad day today, but it wasn't a complete write-off because I came up with a new idea, a series for this blog based on recipes from my mom's 1969 copy of Betty Crocker's Cookbook. I've mentioned several times here that I grew up with this book and that it was partially responsible for my wanting to become a baker. Last fall, I was on holiday in PEI, where my mom lives, and I asked her if she still had the book, and she did! It's a little worse for wear - the spine is missing and the binding is falling apart, and it's stained and dog-eared and definitely "well-loved" - and after not very much convincing at all, Mom let me take the book home with me.

Growing up, my mom always wittily referred to Betty Crocker as Betty Crackpot, and it stuck with me (why wouldn't it?), so that's why I'm going with it for the title of the new series. This book has everything under the sun in it, and the food styling is absolutely horrendous by contemporary standards. My aim is to reacquaint myself with some childhood favourites for nostalgia purposes, as well as try out some new old funky stuff that might be good - or not. I also aim to entertain! I'll try to stay as true as possible to the original recipes, except I will not be using any vegetable shortening and I'll probably cut down on the fat a bit because, man, some of these recipes are decidedly not healthy. Then there will be things I can't find because maybe they don't make them anymore. I should be interesting, and it should be fun.

First up, something not very unusual or unattractive Dinette Cake, found on page 97. I believe this is the batter we made when I first used my Easy Bake Oven when I was very young. It's a very simple recipe, but the method of beating the crap out of the batter seemed counter-intuitive to me. But nonetheless, I beat the batter as the directions stated.

Dinette Cake, Betty Crocker's Cookbook, page 97

1 ½ cups cake flour or 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk
⅓ cup shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour square pan, 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 inches. Measure all ingredients into large mixer bowl. Blend ½ minute on low speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

The original recipe suggests Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting or Coconut Broiled Topping.

I chose no topping because I have homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream on hand!

As you can see there are some darker brown spots on the surface of the cake; this is because there were a lot of air bubbles in it as it baked. I used an 8x8" pan.

And the finished product:

The verdict: OMG, so awesome! I could have eaten the whole thing on my own. The texture was amazing, the flavour was amazing...The beating of the batter didn't seem to harm the texture of the cake, which was good. Such a simple recipe with such a super result. And the scent of it really brought back memories...Yum!


Jodi said...

Fond memories of the Dinette cake. It was the base for Boston Cream Pie, and I think it was also the base for Pineapple Upside Down cake.

Wandering Coyote said...

Ooooh, it would be perfect for a Boston Cream Pie base!

Tina said...

Good memories. What a cool project you are about to embark on. Good luck, but you won't need it. You are a goddess in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Big Red is STILL my go-to Favourite cookbook. It was my first cookbook that taught me the basics along with the adventurous.
Must take another look at that Cake recipe ... Your photo is make my mouth water!! Mmmm.
Kay Johnson

Karen said...

That cake looks and sound so simple but so delightful. I'm going to try this later this month and take to work (perhaps adding a little lemon zest/juice). I can imagine this also being great with a flavoured whipped cream dolloped on top!

Looking forward to this cooking adventure! Our go to cookbook growing up was mom's dogeared copy of the Five Roses Flour cookbook...which she still has as well. Some of it is outrageous but most of the recipes are simple but practically no fail. I'm hoping she eventually passes it on to me!

Wandering Coyote said...

@ Pierce: why thank you, but you are my fellow goddess!

@ Kay: thank for commenting! Do you think you could convert this to gluten-free?

@ Karen: I think my mom might have had a Five Roses, too, but I have no idea what happened to it. I hope she passes it on to you, too. :)

Tina said...

What are you making next from this book? I may give that cake a whirl this evening if I have time.

Wandering Coyote said...

Next is probably a scalloped potato recipe I'll make for Easter.

Tina said...

Sounds interesting. I love potatoes. Just made your cake last night and will link up to you when I post later!

~~louise~~ said...

Sometimes, the classics are still the best! Thanks for sharing, Tina...

Rita said...

I had that book and remember making this cake; thanks for bringing it back.

Wandering Coyote said...

@ Pierce: thanks for the link & shout-out!

@ Louise: I agree, sometimes the classics are the best, and this recipe just proves that. Thanks for commenting!

@ Rita: you're welcome. This was probably my very first experience with cake as a child, and oh, the scent of it the other day really brought back a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings. :)


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