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


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!


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