Chocolate Cake and Prune Pudding

Recipes courtesy of Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe. Both recipes are reproduced exactly as published: the structure of the chocolate cake recipe shows it was written by a home cook, as it does not list ingredients in the order in which they are used, but suggestions the cook’s memory for the ingredients, as if the recipe was transmitted orally. The text format of the prune pudding, not listing ingredients separately, saved space in the newspaper.  

Chocolate Cake, from the Manistee County Pomona Grange Cook Book (1938)

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup honey
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups cake flour

Cream butter, sugar, honey and cocoa and add the hot water, beat well, then add well beaten eggs, flour, baking powder and milk. Bake in a moderate (350) oven for 40 to 50 minutes.

Prune Pudding, from “Economy on the President’s Table,” Los Angeles Times, March 2, 1932.

One-fourth pound prunes, one-half cupful cold water, one-half cupful sugar, two cupfuls prune water, one inch stick of cinnamon, one-fourth teaspoonful powdered cinnamon, four tablespoonsful of flour, four tablespoonsful cold water.

Soak prunes overnight in one and one-half cupfuls cold water. Cook in same water until tender over slow fire in covered dish. Drain. Save liquid. Remove seeds, cut prunes into bits. Add sugar, cinnamon and hot prune juice—if juice does not measure two cupfuls add enough water to make up the measure.

Bring to boiling point and simmer ten minutes. To the flour add four tablespoonfuls of cold water and mix to a smooth paste. Add slowly to prune mixture, stirring carefully and cook ten minutes over a low fire or over boiling water. Remove stick of cinnamon and pour into a bowl or mold. Serve cold.