One of our assignments for the "Prairie Primer" unit study we are doing was to make vanity cakes. Ma made these for the girls' country party in the book "On the Banks of Plum Creek". They are called vanity cakes because they "puff up and are hollow inside", according to Ma. Well our cakes must not have been too vain because they weren't very hollow inside, although they did puff up a little. I would rightfully call our cakes, "humble cakes".
The recipe out of the "Little House Cookbook". I bet Ma used a hair pin to save her place, right? Yeah, like she needed a cookbook, LOL.
Recipe for 6 Vanity Cakes:
1 large egg
1/2 cup white flour or whole wheat pastry flour (depends on how vain you want your cakes to be)
1.) Beat egg and salt in a bowl for 1 minute, then beat in 1/4 cup flour, then add rest of flour one TBL at a time until batter is stiff but not so hard that it could be rolled out. (Oops I forgot to add the flour slowly, that is probably why my cakes didn't puff up with pride)
2.) Cover a plate with flour and then drop dough by small spoonfuls onto the flour. Flip them over so both sides are coated. I used a knife.
Always the experimenter when it comes to food, I decided to make a healthy batch and use whole wheat pastry flour instead of the white flour Ma would have used.
3.) Cook in hot lard (approx 350 degrees). You could also use coconut oil for similar results. Cook each cake for approx 3 to 4 minutes and turn if they don't turn over on their own. This is not how they are supposed to look!
We went traditional and cooked them in some lard we had rendered. This is the batch we made with whole wheat pastry flour and as you can see these turned out very "humble".
They were very misshapen but still OK to eat.
Here is the batch we made out of regular white flour. It says to sprinkle powdered sugar on them. I had Josiah put a little powdered sugar in a tea strainer, and that worked good for sprinkling. I don't normally use refined sugar or white flour, but I do like to be authentic and try things that would have been close to what they really would have eaten.
See, even with the white flour, I couldn't get them to puff up. The kids thought they were pretty good though, so we ate them with our lunch. It was fun to try something "out of the norm" that didn't take a lot of extra ingredients or time. Lovin' the Little House Cookbook!
If you try these, please leave a comment and let me know your results.