Friday, November 2, 2012

"Little House" Vanity Cakes Recipe

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
pinch salt
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". 

4.) Drain cakes on a paper towel, then dust with powdered sugar. 

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.

God Bless,


Camille said...

What a FUN post!!! Your photos are great my friend! Thank you for posting. I'm also proud of you for taking a little risk to be authentic...LOL!

With Love,

Camille said...

Oh...perhaps your oil wasn't hot enough...just a thought. I make popovers (or yorkshire pudding), and the pan must be pre-heated in the oven with the oil in each muffin's the trick for puffed up airy popovers. Are you gonna try again?? :)

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

I would agree that the oil wasn't hot enough with the first batch, but the second batch seemed plenty hot. It puffed up, but wasn't hollow. It was more like a doughnut. I'll have to try it even hotter next time and see if that helps. Thanks, Camille!

Anonymous said...

My grandmother made Vanities every Saturday. And now 67 years later, I also make them. Her recipe was about the same but it depended on the weather how much flour to use. When mixed, the batter os pretty much like pie dough. She rolled it out about as thick as pie dough, maybe alittle thicker. Then cut it into all sorts of shapes and dropped several into the cast iron spider that had very hot (but not smoking) lard. They came out crisp with a few crispy bubbles and tan in color. They are similar to the Mexican Soupapella and could be eaten dipped into honey/syrup. I love cooking the "old" way!! My email is judy

kissie' s granddaughter said...

Rosewater is the secret ingredient to Vanity Cakes Here's how to make them. In a mixing bowlbeat two eggs, stir in a pinch of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon rosewater(any other flavoring can be used, but they won't taste like the old-time Vanity Cakes of Pioneer days). Next add enough sifted flour until it makes a thick dough to roll out on a douhgboard. Cut with a cookie cutter. Drop into hot lard to fry. The cakes will. Come up bobbing and brown. They will turn themselves over. When the other side is golden brown lift out onto a brown paper bag and sift with sugar while their still hot. This is my great grandma Kissie recipe.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Thanks for the tips! Will try your version of this recipe next time!

FitMama said...

Thanks for the recipe. We will have to try it with coconut oil today. I can't wait. My blog is if you want to check it out.

FitMama said...

Thanks for the recipe. We will have to try it with coconut oil today. I can't wait. My blog is if you want to check it out.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I always pictured vanity cakes as looking very much like Indian puri. The dough is rolled flat before being fried and the result is a hollow bubble.


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