When Aunt Marian was at Fort Oglethorpe did she miss her family and the familiar foods from home? Maybe she pulled out her handwritten cookbook–the one I now have– and dreamed of favorite foods from home, like her sister Naomi’s London Tea Cakes.
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup water
jam or marmalade
3 egg whites
1/3 cup walnut, finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar (more if you like)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine butter and sugar; add egg yolks one at a time and beat well. Add flour, baking soda, vanilla, and water; then stir until mixed and a dough forms. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on a greased cookie sheet, and spread with jam.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, then gradually add sugar while continuing to beat. Gently fold in the walnuts and spread evenly over the dough and jam.
Bake about 20 minutes. When cool cut into 2-inch (or 1-inch) squares.
The London Tea Cakes were light and delicate. The jam–I used cherry jam—and meringue with walnuts added a lovely, flavorful dimension to the tea cakes.
Aunt Marian was living with her sister Ruth when she enlisted in the WACs. I have a cookbook that I think Aunt Marian compiled right before she joined the WACs
One recipes in the book, Date Cake, looks like a last minute additional. It is written around other recipe which had been pasted into the book—and it says that is a recipe of Ruth’s.
Did Ruth make Date Cake while Aunt Marian was living with her? . . . . and did Aunt Marian love it and insert it into her cookbook?
The many food spatters and stains clearly indicate that at least one of the recipes on this page was a favorite of Aunt Marian’s. I’m guessing it was the Date Cake—though I haven’t yet made the California Upside Down Fruit Cake, so I could be wrong.
The handwritten recipe is a bit sparse on details. Here’s how I made the Date Cake:
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup chopped dates
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350° F. Stir baking soda into the water and pour over the dates. In another bowl combine the sugar, eggs, and butter; then add the date mixture and stir. Add flour and stir until all ingredients are combined into a batter. Stir the walnuts into the batter. Put into a loaf pan that has been greased and floured. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
This recipe is super easy to make and delicious—though I would consider it to be more of a date nut bread than a cake. It is definitely a keeper, and I feel certain that I’ll make it often.
One of the items of Aunt Marian’s that I found when cleaning out my parent’s attic was a very worn hand-written cookbook. Many of the recipes indicate who gave Aunt Marian the recipe—or who in the family particularly liked the recipe.
I’ll never know for sure when Aunt Marian compiled the recipes, but I’m guessing that she did it when she joined the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) in 1944 shortly after her father’s death. She probably wanted to consolidate family favorites into a compact book that would preserve family cooking memories as she moved onward to the next stage of her life.
Here’s her recipe for Papa’s Favorite Cookies. They’re an old-fashioned sour cream cookie. Somehow the cookie name seems like a lovely tribute by Aunt Marian to her father.
The handwritten recipe is a bit sparse on details. Here’s how I made the cookies:
Papa’s Favorite Cookies (Sour Cream Cookies)
1/2 cup melted butter 2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon salt ¾ teaspoon vanilla 1 cup sour cream 3 eggs 3 1/2 cups flour (approximate)
Preheat oven to 375.° Stir together butter and sugar. Add baking soda, salt, vanilla, sour cream, and eggs; stir. Add enough flour to make a soft dough (I used approximately 3 1/2 cups); stir until well-mixed.
Roll out dough, cut into circles or other desired shape, and put onto greased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until set and lightly browned.
Yield: Approximately 7 dozen cookies
The sumptuous cookies had a wonderful, old-fashioned texture and taste. They were softer than many modern cookies, and. had a very delicate, sweet-sour undertone. This recipe is a keeper.
Marian Solomon's midlife transition from the farm to the Women's Army Corps (WACs)