Something to Read: Fannie Farmer Cookbook & Baking Book

30days

Yesterday we spent the day in Porteau Cove and it was rainy and everyone ended up damp to their skin but it was fun and Toddler had a fabulous day and when we got home I still had to put Easter together so last night, I didn’t end up posting (I did watch a few cooking shows off the PVR and eat about a pound of Easter candy though, so that’s got to count for something).

Easter prep

I had meant to tell you about the Fannie Farmer cookbooks, which you likely already know about as they’re classics but if not, you should know about because they’re classics. So I might as well tell you about the Fannie Farmer Cookbook and The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, which are two of my most essential kitchen resources (both edited by Marion Cunningham). My aunt had asked for the recipe for Lazy Daisy cake, as she’s celebrating her PhD candidacy and it’s her favourite cake, so the timing is all kinds of right.

The Fannie Farmer cookbooks are pretty much the family cookbook where I grew up; my grandmother used them and I inherited her three copies; my mom has several copies (since I ruined her first one as I’m messy and irresponsible and not careful with things). If I’ve ever wondered how to make anything, even before Googling it, I check in with Fannie. Chances are the answers are all in there, probably with my grandmother’s notes.

Cuddles_FF

The thing I like about the cookbooks is that they’re reference as much as they are books of recipes; there are instructions on selecting cuts of meat and what each cut means, information and recipes for cooking for the sick, and a great many recipes that can be made on even the tightest budget. If you know someone about to move into his or her first home away from home, Fannie Farmer is a great gift.

I have a couple of really old versions of the books, and I keep them because they were my grandmother’s, but also because they’re pretty funny. For example, from my 1973 version which purports to be a facsimile of the original (circa 1896):

Banana Salad

Remove one section of skin from each of four bananas. Take out fruit, scrape, and cut fruit from one banana in thin slices, fruit from other three bananas in one-half inch cubes. Marinate cubes with French Dressing. Refill skins and garnish each with slices of banana. Stack around a mound of lettuce leaves.

I love recipes like these. So gross. So delightful to imagine someone serving banana salad in French Dressing to company.

But seriously, Fannie Farmer.

Here’s the recipe for Lazy Daisy Cake, followed by a recipe for Lazy Daisy Topping, both from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book. “Because this light and delicate cake is so easy to make, it is an ideal dessert for a lazy day. The topping is a rich butter-caramel glaze, and it is good.”

Lazy Daisy Cake

(Makes one 8-inch square cake.)

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Lazy Daisy Topping (see below)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8″ square cake pan.

Warm the milk with the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs until they are foamy and feel like they’ve thickened slightly. Slowly whisk in the sugar, then add the vanilla.

Sift your dry ingredients into another bowl. Stir the dry mix into the egg mixture and beat until the batter is smooth.

Check that the butter has melted into the milk; if it has, stir into the batter and mix well. If it hasn’t, give it another minute or so.

Pour your batter into your pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

While your cake is baking, prepare the Lazy Daisy Topping (recipe below).

Spread the topping over the warm cake and brown slightly under the broiler for about one minute, paying attention all the while so that it doesn’t burn. Serve the cake from the pan.

Lazy Daisy Topping

(Makes about 1 1/4 cups, enough for one Lazy Daisy Cake)

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted if you wish

Combine butter, cream and sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir over medium heat until melted. Add the coconut. Pour the frosting over the baked cake; cook under a hot broiler for about a minute, until it bubbles and browns slightly.

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2 thoughts on “Something to Read: Fannie Farmer Cookbook & Baking Book

  1. Oh gosh, my mom used the Fannie Farmer cookbook. I remember stuff like banana salad. But then Mom took something like that as license to roll any fruit in French dressing. Or mayonnaise (because many salad dressings have mayo in them), or something that was the color of French dressing, like condensed tomato soup. So, that cookbook is a source of both entertainment and some serious flashback issues.

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