Last month, while I was at home in Calgary, I went to the annual Herald Book Sale to try to satisfy my never-ending hunger for cookbooks. I love finding old books, especially ones from the 30’s and 40’s- they are such a delight to read! Wether it’s the “helpful hints for the ever-changing “modern woman” or the historical map of how our food menus have evolved over the years, it’s always a joy to read them. Now, that being said, the book I am going to talk about is not so old. It was published in 1968 (which is not so old to me at least) and is called ” A World of Baking” by Dolores Casella. I’m not sure what even caught my eye since the outer paper wrapping is long gone and is now just a plain brown hardcover. Oh, but how happy I am that I picked it up. I have read almost the entire book and have been dying to give these recipes a try. I think we tend to push older recipes aside in our quest to change,improve, and invent new recipes- but let us not forget other recipes in the progress. Anyway, as mentioned in my previous post, I am now in New York taking care of my mom while she recovers from a torn achilles tendon so I brought the book with my to try some of these recipes and pass them on to you, since I believe this book is out of print. A few days before leaving Calgary I made one of the coffee cake recipes and it got great reviews at my cake decorating meeting- quite a few people asked for the recipe (I will post at a later date, I promise!) It seems that every time I come to NY in the summer they are in the middle of a record heat wave. It has been so blazing hot and humid that I have barely even turned the stove on, other than to make oatmeal for my mom, so I am already behind in my baking. I did bake a cake for 4th of the July (on July 8th!!!) but it has been too busy for my to write about it so I am moving on for now.
Even right now, I am typing in darkness as my little one is sleeping on the floor beside me, but the cake is in the oven so I am taking advantage of the time (and the air conditioning in the bedroom- there is none in the kitchen). I will wait until the morning to take some photos…
Anyway, enough of my rambling and onto the cake. I thought this was such an interesting recipe and since it is the first one in the book, I figured I would start there. The cake uses no flour, per se, but crushed vanilla wafers instead (sometimes called Nilla Wafers).
It sounds like such a lovely teatime cake, doesn’t it? No icing needed, maybe just a dusting of powdered sugar. You must butter and flour the pan(s) or butter and place a piece of parchment in the or it will stick!!
You can use a 10 inch tube or bundt pan OR two 9 inch round cake pans.
Pre-heat your oven to 325 F
VANILLA WAFER CAKE
1/2 lb (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 C granulated sugar
6 large eggs
3 C vanilla wafer crumbs (a 12 oz box) (I just ran the cookies through the food processor)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon zest
1 C flaked coconut (I used 1/2 unsweetened mixed with sweetened)
1 C finely chopped nuts ( I used ground almonds)
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs 1 or 2 at a time, scraping down the sides, until smooth and fluffy.Combine the wafer crumbs and the baking powder and stir to blend. Beat it into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, vanilla and lemon rind. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Fold in the coconut and the chopped nuts. Turn into the pan and bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes (Mine was done after only 1 hour so check early),30 to 40 minutes if using the round pans. Cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before turning out. If you have made the layers, put them together with some whipped cream.
Verdict: A great cake! Super moist with a slight lemony tang. Perfect for having friends over with a cup of tea or coffee