Aunt Lil – A Maine Adventure

Yes, I’ve been mighty quiet, but for good reason. On November 13, I began a new job in Castine, Maine! And with great luck our house in New Hampshire sold in two days resulting in a flurry of activity as we bought a home and moved the household and animals four hours northeast.

Castine Common

For those of you not familiar with Castine, just suffice to say as a historian I have dropped down the rabbit hole and appeared back in time. This coastal village is on the National Register – not just a house here and there – the whole village! My office as Director of the Castine Historical Society overlooks the Town Common (1817). It’s magical!

We are a bit more settled in our house, so last Friday when we were invited to a potluck “Cabin Fever” dinner, I was able to actually bake. I chose what looked like a yummy and portable Butterscotch Spice Cake from the Betty Crocker’s Hostess Cookbook (1967). I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a Betty Crocker recipe. The book’s cover touts “featuring more than 400 guest-tested recipes” as well as this alluring cover showing the beginning of a perfect 1960s party.

Vintage photo of the Pink Palace in Castine

Now please don’t think that our first soiree in Castine was to some quaint 18th c. New England house. Surprisingly, we arrived at what the locals still call The Pink Palace. Built for a wealthy heiress as her summer retreat in 1924, this house is right out of Sunset Boulevard. Totally impractical for this coastal climate, The Pink Palace has survived thanks to the owners who have lovely restored this decadent and fascinating home. Here’s an excellent article  (scroll down when you click on the link) about the house with many gorgeous photos. We were entranced!

And yes, the cake was scrumptious and easy to make. It would have been way easier if I’d found my mix master to help cream the butter, but I managed to cream butter by hand. Go figure.

The finished cake ready to take to the party

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 c. brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. shortening (I used butter)
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs. dark molasses

Heat over to 350 degrees

Grease and flour an oblong pan, 13 x 9 x 2″

Cream the butter and sugars (dark and regular)

Measure and mix all other dry ingredients

Add the water, eggs and molasses and mix all together in a mixer

Pour into the prepared pan

Bake 35-40 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean

Let cool slightly while you make the topping

Coconut Topping

  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 c. flaked coconut
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans
  • 3 tbs. light cream (I didn’t have any and used milk which worked fine)

Melt the butter

Stir into melted butter the brown sugar, coconut, pecans and cream

Spread over top of cake

Broil in the oven for 2-3 minutes until golden brown (I forgot to do this!)

This is a super easy cake to whip together and has a pleasant taste. The cake tastes even better the next day. A definite hit!

 

 

 

Aunt Lil’s Butterscotch Sticks

Two recipes side by side

I’ve had my eye on Aunt Lil’s recipe called Butterscotch Sticks for a while. I just needed to find a similar recipe that gave me a few more directions before trying them. While thumbing through my King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion I came across Vintage Butterscotch Bars. Voila – an almost identical recipe to Aunt Lil’s. Butterscotch Brownies is another common name for these tasty treats.

While researching the recipe’s history I learned that the flavor of butterscotch dates back to the mid-19th century in England where a Butterscotch candy was invented. The distinctive flavor of butterscotch comes from butter and brown sugar.

The only differences between Aunt Lil’s recipe and the one by King Arthur is in amounts. Basically, the King Arthur recipe doubles all the ingredients which was good as I needed to take these to a function.

Here’s the King Arthur recipe:

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (the biggest difference in the recipe. Aunt Lil’s called for much less)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly grease a 9 x 13″ pan

Melt the butter in a saucepan set over low heat

Melting brown sugar with butter = butterscotch

Remove from heat and add the sugar, mixing until well blended. Cool to lukewarm

Transfer the butter mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl

Stir in the eggs, then the vanilla, salt and baking powder

Mix in the flour and nuts

Spread the batter into the prepared pan

Bake the bars for 20-24 minutes until the tops look shiny

Don’t over bake or they will dry out

Finished!

Bake just until the edges start to pull away from the pan and cake tester comes out almost clean with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it

Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting

The result is a rich, chewy bar that is quite addicting. Enjoy!

Total yum!

 

What a Difference a Recipe Makes

Last week’s Banana Cake was a disaster. This week’s was sublime. The difference? It was all in the recipe. I felt determined to make a good Banana Cake. After reviewing many recipes in my vintage cookbooks, I decided to use The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Bombauer from the 1943 WWII edition. I can’t remember [...] Read more »

That Sinking Feeling – Cake Disasters

I really wanted my next post to be about something yummy, but that won’t be for this post. I’ve been wanting to try making a banana cake for some time now. Banana cake was a very popular cake that has since gone out of favor. Today, you use your bananas to make banana bread. But [...] Read more »

Bread Pudding on a Cold Snowy Day

Bread pudding has been around for ages and versions of it can be found in many countries’ cuisines. Basically, its a pudding that uses leftover stale bread, eggs, milk and or cream, sugar, raisins and spices. Things that most women had around the house and so could easily whip together at a moment’s notice. Since [...] Read more »

Christmas Baking

Friends often give me their parents’ cookbooks, knowing that I will love any cookbooks that pre-date the 1960s. I recently was given a gold mine of early cookbooks by my friend Anne whose mother passed away last year.  My heart was racing as I loaded up the car knowing I’d have many hours of fun [...] Read more »

Grape-Nut Pudding – A New England Marvel

As you can imagine, I have lots and lots of vintage cookbooks. I find reading them comforting, and I always dream of cooking all the recipes.  One recipe that shows up frequently in early to mid-20th century cookbooks is Grape-Nut Pudding. Growing up, I liked Grape-Nut cereal. Then when we moved to New Hampshire, I [...] Read more »

Aunt Lil Bakes with Weight Watchers

I love to bake and I love to eat. And I hate to exercise. The result – some unwanted pounds that keep adding up. So Aunt Lil joined Weight Watchers. This isn’t my first time, so I know the ropes. Portion control is key, as well as tracking what you eat! But, no matter what, [...] Read more »

Farmers Market Finds

Since Farmer’s Markets are finally in full swing here in upper New Hampshire, I decided to try some recipes from Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables, 2006. This is a great cookbook divided by the seasons. There are many creative recipes that help you use your bounty if you have a garden. Or [...] Read more »

Greetings from Rangoon

No, I’m not on some exotic vacation. I’m instead cooking from my latest vintage cook book find, Rangoon International Cook Book, 1956. I at first hesitated about buying the book, as its title implied that the book would be filled with 1950s recipes from Southeast Asia. In fact it’s an amazing mix of recipes from [...] Read more »

Next Page »