A Jiffy Cake for Harried Moms of the Past

American Woman's Cookbook -- A Great Cookbook (If You Can Find It)

American Woman's Cookbook -- A Great Cookbook (If You Can Find It)

Yep, even in those days that we look back at so fondly and say “oh it was better then….” , mom’s were harried. Perhaps it was the many P.T.A. or Club meetings to attend? For my mom, it was her need to juggle her every consuming passion for golf, with being a Girl Scout leader, volunteering with her Newcomers Club in Darien, Connecticut, and just running me around. So, even stay-at-home mom’s needed some quick recipes to throw together at the last moment.

I too needed one when the staff where I work suddenly decided we were doing a belated birthday party for a co-worker. I volunteered the cake. Since it was a work night, I didn’t want to make anything too elaborate. What I found was In-A-Jiffy Cake in my 1942 edition of The American Woman’s Cook Book, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer. The recipe also appear in 250 Classic Cake Recipes from 1951 also edited by Ms. Berolzheimer. Both books are published by the Culinary Arts Institute.

Jiffy Cake Ingredients

Jiffy Cake Ingredients

The recipe totally lived up to its name. It was super easy to put together and bake. Here’s

The Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup melted shortening
  • 1 egg, beaten
Broken Rotary Beater

Broken Rotary Beater

Sift dry ingredients together 3 times (I sifted them onto a sheet of waxed paper, as I learned to do in a cook book, and then folded the waxed paper and used the fold as a funnel to pour the dry ingredients back into the sifter that is sitting in a bowl before sifting again). Combine remaining ingredients and add gradually to dry ingredients. Beat mixture 2 minutes. (I used my rotary beater I purchased at an antique store. The mixture is very thick and I ended up breaking my rotary beater and had to use Dan’s mother’s beater. Luckily I didn’t break this one!) Pour into greased cake pan. Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for 30 minutes. Makes one (8 x 8 x 2 inch) cake. Let the cake cool on a wire rack before frosting.

All About Home Baking

All About Home Baking

Now to frost! I was determined to make a good frosting and an easy one. From my All About Home Baking, 1935, cookbook published by the General Foods Corporation, I found a simple Butter Frosting. The KEY to this recipe is to have your butter out well ahead of time to make sure it is very gooey.

Butter Frosting

  • 4 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs milk
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I forgot to put this in and it was still great)
  • dash of salt (ditto – forgot to put in)
The Finished Cake on Cake Stand

The Finished Cake on Cake Stand

Cream butter (I made sure it was very gooey and used my wooden spatula for this; add part of sugar gradually, blending after each addition. Add remaining sugar, alternately with milk, until of right consistency to spread. Beat after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla and salt. (I think I got just so excited that it looked like real frosting I forgot this step and started frosting!) Makes enough frosting to cover tops of two 9 inch layers, or top and sides of 8 x 8x 2 inch cake, or about 2 dozen cup cakes. (It did cover my 2x8x2″ cake perfectly).

Tracy with the Cake

Tracy with the Cake

The result – well I had to wait overnight and until lunch to try it at the party. I took it in my vintage glass cake stand and top which looked great. The result – everyone loved it! Rave reviews! I took a big piece home to Dan and more rave reviews. The cake is moist, but not overly sweet. The icing adds the right amount of buttery sweetness. Its an easy cake and very, very good.

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