10
Jun
12

Cake trends circa 1900

One of the many pleasant surprises of visiting Minneapolis (apart from the 85-degree weather in May) was discovering that it was the “cradle of carbohydrates”: the flour milling capital from the late 1800s-1930s. Which means—yes—it has long been cake central.

King Midas recipes from the early 1900s.

Recipes from about 100 years ago, Mill City Museum exhibit. I wish I could’ve flipped through these to see what some of the oddly named baked goods were.

Mill City Museum is a good place to spend a couple hours if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s not a big museum, but it’s fascinating for anyone into the history of food and manufacturing. The museum is on the site of an abandoned flour factory, next door to the iconic Gold Medal Flour sign.

Giant Bisquick box at Mill City Museum.

The Flour Tower (behind the giant Bisquick box) is a freight elevator that takes you between the floors of the museum, where they’ve re-created scenes from its flour-processing days.

The King Midas recipes pictured up top date back to the early 1900s and set me off on a Google frenzy trying to find the original recipes. Google had surprisingly few answers. My best guesses:

  • Marygold Cake: Since the Primrose Cake didn’t have any primroses in it, it’s safe to say the marygold cake didn’t have marigolds. I found more than one recipe that incorporated lemons–though this recipe also calls for marigold petals.
  • Kingdom Krums: Probably some kind of branded crumb cake.
  • Nugget Rusks: I came across a UK/India thing called “cake rusks” that are a bread (biscotti-type creation?) that you dip in tea. But the name is so unappetizing. No wonder it never made it over here.
  • Gordian Knots: These were probably just dinner buns in the shape of the namesake knots.
1950s King Midas cookbook

Unfortunately, this 1950s cookbook didn’t give me much insight into the recipes I’d seen at the museum. Either cake trends had changed in the intervening years, or King Midas had little consistency in naming their kitchen creations.

I researched further by purchasing this King Midas cookbook, which dates back to 1950.
Sadly, it didn’t illuminate me on any of the recipes from the museum exhibit. I did learn that cake recipes have basically stayed the same through the decades, no surprise. Regardless of what they’re called, they’re all a variation on flour, eggs, sugar, oil/butter, and some kind of leavening agent.

Cakes seem just as susceptible to trends as hemlines and hairstyles. Will Red Velvet cake still be a thing in 50 years? Will cupcakes still be the cake du jour, or will they go the way of molded JELL-O? It all remains to be seen.

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