Jack O' Lantern Cakes (1920) ★★★★

Gibson Tally Card, 1925*
Halloween is a great time to have a historically-themed party. There is tons of information out there on how to have a Halloween party, including some pretty unique ideas. A search for "Halloween" on any of the blogs listed to the right will surely yield some great results. You can even provide your trick-or-treaters with a piece of history by giving out candy from this list, which includes ideas from the 1900s to 1960s.

You can also check out blogs or do a Google search and find some pretty neat historical Halloween costumes. Here's some ideas from the 1920s at Vixen Vintage which I just love!

The recipe I'm sharing today comes from a menu in Mrs. Wilson's Cook Book. This cook book is lovely because it includes a lot of menus for special occasions. I've also been impressed by the recipes I've made previously from this book. Many of them look quite tasty.

Original Recipe:
Bake a sponge cake in individual or muffin pans and then ice with chocolate water icing and make the lantern face with white icing.

Place in mixing bowl
One-half cup sugar,
Yolk of one egg,
One tablespoon butter.
Cream well, then add
Three tablespoons water,
Two-thirds cup of flour,
One teaspoon baking powder,
Pinch salt.
Beat to mix, then fold in the stiffly beaten white of one egg; bake in well-greased and floured pan in slow oven thirty minutes.

Place in bowl
One pound XXXX sugar.
Two tablespoonfuls cornstarch,
One teaspoonful lemon juice,
Sufficient hot water to spread.
Beat to mix, then use.

Place in bowl
One pound XXXX sugar,
Two tablespoons cornstarch,
One-half cup cocoa,
Sufficient boiling water to make mixture spread.
Beat until smooth, then add one tablespoon of melted butter and use.

The Verdict:
They were okay. I gave four stars because I probably would eat these by choice, but they're really just average. The cake was very thick and kind of unpleasant to chew through because of it. On its own the cake wasn't very nice. It really needs icing or filling to make it tasty. Maybe I'm just a failure at sponge cake, I don't know. The icing was okay, but not great. If I were to make this again, I would make the cakes half the size of a muffin, so that it's not so hard to eat them. The batter also only made four (!) cakes, so, um, yeah...And on the other end of the scale, even half the frosting was waaaay too much. 

Modernized Recipe:
(Adapted from Mrs. Wilson's Cook Book)

1/2 cup SUGAR
1 EGG, separated
1 tablespoon BUTTER
3 tablespoons WATER
2/3 cup FLOUR
1 teaspoon BAKING POWDER
Pinch of SALT

1. Preheat oven to 325F. If not using muffin papers, grease the pan well.
2. In a medium bowl, beat together the sugar, egg yolk, and butter. Beat the egg white separately until stiff peaks form.
3. To the egg yolk batter, add the water, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well and gently fold in the beaten egg white.
4. Divide equally into muffin cups and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes for full-size muffins or less for smaller ones. Let cool before icing.
5. To make the icing, follow the original recipe (it's easy!), but seriously reduce the amounts...by like halves or quarters.

*I found this image from Sexy Witch. I wanted to find a 1920s representation of a Jack O' Lantern, to make sure I was decorating my cakes accurately!

Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.