Time Travel Kitchen
Pumpkin Season and a 100th Birthday
National Pumpkin Day was Tuesday and Sunday is Halloween so it’s been a pumpkin-centric week of baking.
I always look forward to pumpkin bread and cake and muffins in the Fall.
When it comes to pumpkin pie though, I’m only slightly more enthusiastic about it than this fellow.
Image: CORBIS via Getty Images, c. 1910
So I made a cake instead.
Baking with Pumpkin Purée
Libby’s was the first to can pumpkin purée in 1929 in Chicago, making it a breeze to bake pumpkin recipes. Their famous 1950’s recipe for pumpkin pie is still on the back of the can, along with an updated version introduced in 2019, to the consternation of pumpkin pie purists. I’m still searching for the original 1929 Libby’s recipe, and I’ll update you when I find it.
Note: There are many brands to choose from today, be sure to read the label that it’s pumpkin purée and not pumpkin pie filling in the can. I’ve grabbed the wrong one off the supermarket shelf more than once.
Pumpkin Cake Recipe
I jumped ahead a few decades this week for a 1950’s recipe because I really liked it and hope you will too. It’s a recipe from the back of a 1953 Swans Down©️Cake Flour box I found via Click Americana . Omit the walnuts if you want to.
Note: let cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before turning out of pan.
Print ad, 1953, SwansDown©️CakeFlour
(I made a different frosting)
Cream Cheese Frosting (refrigerate)
I winged it on this and used less sugar than I saw in most recipes, didn’t want it too sweet. I didn’t make enough frosting (needed more cream cheese) for a proper amount between layers (as you can see from the photo - still tasted great, though;)
Here’s the ingredient quantities I should have used:
4 1/2 oz. softened cream cheese (one and a half 3 oz. packages)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
Use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer and whip the cream cheese till combined and smooth.
Add sifted confectioners’ sugar and incorporate (low setting on mixer at first, then a quick, final whip) into the cream cheese/butter mixture and Voilà!
Spread frosting on bottom layer, place second layer evenly on top and spread frosting across and on sides.
Decorate with walnuts (or raisins, or dried cranberries) if you like.
Note: Because of the Cream Cheese Frosting, this cake should be refrigerated - it can stay out for a bit while serving, but then pop in fridge.
Betty Turns 100 🎂
Whenever I read ‘Betty is turning 100!’ I immediately think of the great Betty White who turns one-hundred in January.
But there’s another Betty, one who is both a brand and a fictional character, who burst on the baking scene in 1921: Betty Crocker.
Conceived as a ‘kitchen confidante’, and ‘the Dear Abby of baking’ the character was born of an advertising campaign by a flour milling company, Washburn Crosby Company. The company eventually became General Mills in Minneapolis and in 1924 a number of different women took to the radio airwaves as Betty, answering questions to help home bakers. Betty was a 1920’s ‘Influencer’.
There’s a whole other newsletter to write (and I will) not only about Betty, but the entire home economics movement and the birth of so many brands during the period of the 20’s and 30’s — brands that are still with us today.
But for today, a simple ‘Happy Birthday, Betty’ 🎂 💯
I’m putting out two newsletters a week till New Year’s, lots of recipes, guests and ideas, so I’ll see you on Tuesday with a briefer ‘Kitchen Notes’ and Friday with the regular newsletter.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend and a Happy Halloween! Make the pumpkin cake -it’s good!
My Cat, Tillie, Making Pumpkin FASHUN
Sources and Credits
Pumpkinhead Eating Pumpkin Pie: Rycoff Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
Cake photos and Tillie Photo: Jolene
Tillie design: Cameron Bentley
Libby’s Food Company; Libbys.com
Who Was Betty Crocker? The History Kitchen/PBS Food/PBS.com
Reily Foods, ReilyProducts.com makers of SwansDown©️CakeFlour