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Great Old-Fashioned American Desserts

Beatrice Ojakangas
Copyright Date: 1987
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Great Old-Fashioned American Desserts
    Book Description:

    Cooking expert Beatrice Ojakangas has researched original sources from across the country to recapture the delicious tastes of Lemon Icebox Cake, Applesauce Crisp, and Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie. Along with each recipe, Ojakangas shares fascinating stories and little-known facts about the history of the dessert. The recipes have been tested and updated for easy preparation with today’s ingredients and techniques.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9649-9
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-3)

    From California to New York, from Vermont to Florida, the aroma of an apple pie baking, its juices bubbling through the slits in the crust, of chocolate cake fresh from the oven, or of buttery cookies cooling on a rack evokes a special response in us. We are a nation that loves desserts!

    Since the birth of this country, desserts have been a major part of American cooking. Colonial aristocrats competed with one another to see who could create the most delicious and intricate desserts, while early country cooks delighted their families with heart- and hearth-warming crisps, cobblers, buckles, bettys,...

  5. Easy-to-Fix Desserts with Fresh Fruits and Berries
    (pp. 4-19)

    When berries and fruits are in the peak of the season, we’re as likely today to buy them “cents off,” using a supermarket coupon, as we are to go out and pick them ourselves. Nonetheless, each of them has its own season. It’s usually a feast or famine extreme. The first carton of strawberries in season probably gets eaten out of hand. The next might make it to a dessert planned for either a family or company meal. After that, the price really goes down, and it is hard to resist buying a whole case! So it is as raspberries,...

  6. Cooked Fruit and Berry Desserts
    (pp. 20-55)

    This ail-American category of desserts goes beyond fresh fruit brought simply and quickly to the table in the height of its season. Fresh berries and soft fruits require little cooking. Apples require more cooking, but they are also more durable and more stowable; so the variety of apple desserts is voluminous because they can be made year-round.

    Early American cooks were masters at fruit puddings, dumplings, cobblers, pandowdies, crisps, fruit grunts, buckles, slumps, bettys, and roly-polies that have doughs and batters on top or are rolled in dough. There is as much variety in the names of the desserts as...

  7. Simple Cooked Puddings
    (pp. 56-74)

    Puddings, both the simple, straightforward cooked and thickened creams that soothe and settle and those with subtle blends of flavor that defy analysis—spicy, fragrant mixtures—are an old American tradition. From the beginning of this country’s history, puddings have been an important part of family dessert cookery.

    These puddings are simple mixtures, based mainly on milk or fruit juices, cooked with cornstarch, flour, tapioca, or rice to thicken them. The ingredients are easily available, mostly on hand at all times, so that a dessert can always be whipped up. The milk in the puddings can be counted into the...

  8. Old-style Baked and Steamed Puddings
    (pp. 75-107)

    Hearty steamed and boiled puddings clearly have their roots in British cookery. Steamed puddings are most often associated with the cooking of the East and parts of the Midwest, although a few steamed puddings are part of holiday meals in other parts of the country. Adaptations were made as cooking methods changed. In the 1700s, two forms of ovens developed around the fireplace—the built-in brick oven and a portable reflector or “tin kitchen” that stood on the hearth and caught the heat radiated from the fire. In this latter oven they baked roasts, puddings, pies, and cakes.

    Puddings were...

  9. Pastries, Pancakes, Baked Dumplings, and Fried Doughs
    (pp. 108-137)

    From the diversity of the American ethnic patchwork come stuffed baked pastries; puffy, deep-fried fritters; deftly handled doughs, batters, and crusts.

    Some seem to exemplify the melting-pot tradition of American cookery. Roly-poly, for instance, takes a baking-powder biscuit dough, not unlike that of English scones or Southern biscuits, and encloses fruit or jam within it. It’s baked in a syrup, something like a dumpling. This is truly an American invention, designed to make use of available fruit. Similar in principle is strudel, which has its roots in Central European—German, Viennese, Hungarian, and Bohemian—cooking. The Pennsylvania Dutch makeapfelstrudel,...

  10. Old-time Icebox Desserts and Cakes
    (pp. 138-153)

    It was the need for the preservation of food that initiated the most remarkable advances in the field of cookery. Desserts were the great beneficiaries of these inventions. The addition of the icebox in the 1800s, and later the refrigerator, to the kitchen scene started a whole new chapter of American desserts. For the first time, it was possible to make chilled desserts in the summer as well as in the winter.

    The icebox was the first refrigerator and it usually sat with its drip pan under it on the back porch, so that the iceman could fill it without...

  11. Ice Creams, Sherbets, and Ices
    (pp. 154-167)

    It is surprising to discover that what sometimes seems to be a rather modern food is really an ancient one. An example is ice cream. What seems even more incredible is that the early Americans were willing to go through a lot of trouble to make this frozen delicacy out of rather simple ingredients. In the South, ice creams were more popular than in the North, where it would have been much easier to accomplish making ice cream for a larger portion of the year. But then, ice was a saleable commodity for Northerners, and perhaps considered too valuable to...

  12. Country Dairy Desserts: Custards, Soufflés, and Creams
    (pp. 168-184)

    In 1611 the first dairy cows arrived on American shores, brought by the Jamestown colonists. That was the beginning of what was to be a nationwide industrial giant. Milk and dairy products, of course, were at first the most abundant in the East. Milk that once was so scarce became so plentiful that John Cotton remarked, “Milk and ministers were the only things cheap in New England” (fromThe American Heritage Cookbook).

    It took almost two hundred years for cows to reach California. Helen Evans Brown, writing in herWest Coast Cookbook, quoted Dame Shirley, who wrote in the early...

  13. All-American Pies
    (pp. 185-213)

    For some Americans, it isn’t dessert unless it comes in a crust. Pie has traditionally been America’s favorite dessert. Even though we are led to believe that New England invented the pie, crust-enclosed fruit pastry can be traced back to the peasant cookery of almost every European country.

    The slope-sided pie pan, as we know it, is truly American. It was designed with economy in mind, to literally cut corners and stretch ingredients. Americans preferred to bake shallow pies.

    The simple mixture of shortening, flour, and water, of which pastry is made, originated with the Greeks during their Golden Age....

  14. All-American Cakes
    (pp. 214-262)

    For all the references to Austrian, German, Swiss, and French cakes in the names for these creations, most are a result of the creativity of American bakers. The three-layer, stacked, and frosted cake as we know it is truly an American invention. The closest European counterparts are tortes that are baked in deep, straight-sided pans; after baking, they are split into layers, filled, and frosted. The 8- or 9-inch layer cake pan, the 9-by-13-inch pan, and even the square cake pan are all the contribution of American technology and standardization. Even the Bundt pan, so popular lately, is an American...

  15. Cookie-Jar Cookies and Pan Bars
    (pp. 263-282)

    Cookies are truly American. In other parts of the world they are “little cakes,” “little breads,” “biscuits,” or named individually, like “macaroons,” “florentines,” or “shortbread.” The actual word “cookie” or “cooky” probably was derived from the Pennsylvania Dutch wordkoekje, which is pronounced “cookie.”

    American cooks have, over the years, created hundreds and hundreds of different cookies. In the 1700s, two forms of ovens developed around the fireplace, one of them being a portable reflector. The ovens were used mainly for baking roasts, puddings, pies, and cakes. In order to check the oven temperature, little “test cakes” were dropped on...

  16. Index
    (pp. 283-293)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 294-294)