Chocolate Cake ~ firm family favourite

 

This image of the 1950s Edmonds Cookery Book is part of my cooking heritage. My mother, like many New Zealand women, referred to the recipes in her battered copy to bake a range of goodies for daily morning and afternoon teas. Sadly, we no longer have her copy of this particular edition that my sister and I used when we helped Mum in the kitchen during busy times on the farm feeding workers and visitors. Over the  years, we modified the recipes and adapted ingredients.  Classic Edmonds recipes that we used in the 1950s have stood the test of time.

Mum’s great-grandchildren love eating the same goodies we enjoyed as children – and this chocolate cake never fails the yummy test. 9-year old grandson, owner of an Edmonds Beginner’s Cookbook reprinted in 2015, is proud of his baking efforts. Chocolate cake baking tradition lives on.

Ingredients One-Egg Chocolate Cake

  • 50 grams butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup standard plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • few drops vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup milk

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  • Prepare one 20cm cake tin. Line with baking paper. I often prepare a muffin tray to make 12 mini-cakes
  • Melt butter and syrup in a small saucepan.
  • Put melted ingredients into a bowl. Add egg and sugar. Beat well.
  • Sift cocoa, flour and baking powder together. Fold sifted ingredients and vanilla essence into egg mixture.
  • Dissolve baking soda in milk. Fold into egg mixture.
  • Pour the mixture into cake tin.
  • Bake 30 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.
  • Leave cake to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes.

Decorate to suit

  • Quick chocolate icing. Mix 1 to 2 cups icing sugar, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon softened butter, vanilla essence and a small amount of warm water to get a smooth consistency. Spread icing over cake. Sprinkle desiccated coconut threads over icing.
  • Cake could be split into two halves so that a filling of whipped cream and sliced fresh fruit e.g. strawberries can be added.
  • Top of the plain cake could just be lightly dusted with icing sugar.

Cookery class at school in 1958

In 1958, we were given a small textbook, Home Science Recipes when we were taught cookery in Standards 5 and 6, or what is now called Years 7 and 8. Words and phrases used then make me smile now.

“all parts of the dominion”, “domestic instruction”, “helpful to the small family”, “young housekeeper”, “apron”, “never waste anything”, “Housewifery and Laundry Work”

Wordy echoes of strong colonial and emotional ties to England, preparation of girls for marriage and motherhood, and always, a vivid memory of want and hunger experienced by our parents’ generation during the depression and war years. New Zealand as  a country grows food well. This text was compiled by a generation of educators intent on building a nation of self-sufficient citizens and healthy families.

The ingredients then reflected the predominant farming and small country town lifestyles we lived in the 1950s. I shudder now at the thought of using animal fats of “lard”, “dripping”, “suet“. Beef and mutton were staple foods. Home killed meat roasted in a fat was common.  Dad would butcher a sheep about once a week. I recall how my brothers, sister and I lined up as he did so waiting to grab the knucklebones so we could play the game. No sentimentality then. That is how it was.

My mother and mother-in-law always kept a bowl to store the dripping from roasted beef. My grandparents and parents all loved spreading dripping on bread in preference to butter. They had  lived through food rationing. As if that was not enough to fill growing large baby-boomer families,  New Zealand mothers served baked goodies for morning and afternoon teas and  puddings. All recipes used great quantities of animal fats and sugar. Unpasteurised, creamy milk collected as the cows were milked was drunk daily. Thank goodness our outdoor lifestyles meant we were physically active and hardworking compared to present day.

Essentially, we their daughters in the school cookery classes, were cementing household practices of generations before the 1950s. Incidentally, the Window Cleaner recipe in  Cleaning Materials, still works a treat and is cost effective.

My Garden ~ downed tools and took a break

Yay! Himself and I drove to the Bay of Islands and took a nano-break in our Northern backyard so to speak and joined the few visitors brave enough to visit our country at this time of the year. Three nights and four days! We stayed in Paihia. No matter the wet and wintery weather, we played the tourist and imbibed our nation’s heritage and cuisine. Of course, we checked out the cafes. We drove to a local vineyard near Kerikeri. We discovered a wonderfully crisp dry Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and a fruity Pinot Noir Rose. That made the trip worthwhile.

In 1819 Samuel Marsden introduced winegrowing to New Zealand with the planting of over 100 different varieties of vine in Kerikeri, Northland.

“New Zealand promises to be very favourable to the vine as far as I can judge at present of the nature of the soil and climate”

he wrote. Nearly two hundred years later, the New Zealand wine industry is at an all time high, and is especially praised for it’s Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.\

It’s fascinating to read the historically familiar names on the tombstones of the earliest settlers in the cemetery behind St Paul’s Anglican Church in Paihia, the first church to be built in New Zealand, quote:

Less than a decade after the first Christian service was held on the Northern shore of the Bay of Islands on Christmas Day 1814, Reverend Henry Williams and Mrs Williams arrived on August 3rd, 1823 to establish the missionary settlement at Paihia.  On their arrival, Mrs Williams with her three children went to reside in Kerikeri while the Reverend Henry Williams at once set to work to erect temporary buildings at the new station. On September 15th, Mrs Williams came to join her husband and records in her journal state that, not only was there a storehouse and dwelling, but also a Church, built of raupo, which was opened for Divine Service on Sunday, September 21st, 1823.  This was the first Church ever built in New Zealand.The Reverend William Williams with his wife joined his brother Henry, arriving at Paihia on March 26th, 1826.  This gentleman was a classical scholar of Oxford University and also had a considerable medical knowledge which was of the greatest benefit to the Mission.In the year 1828, the raupo church was replaced with a lath and plaster structure, which served until 1856 when a wooden church was built.  This was used until 1874, when it was dismantled and another wooden church erected, incorporating much of the old timber.  In 1925 the 1874 church was dismantled in sections and transported to serve at Taumarere.  It was moved to make way for the stone Church of St Paul, the fifth to be erected on the site.  It was built as a lasting memorial to Henry and William Williams. 

We ferried across the bay to Russell for lunch in the Duke of Marlborough Hotel. We walked up Flagstaff Hill. We mooched around the Russell art galleries. Later, we walked along the waterfront from Paihia to Waitangi – the place where New Zealand’s founding document treaty was signed.

I actually forgot to take photos – I guess a case of being blase about familiar sights and taken-for-granted scenery. Anyway, we spent much of our time near the waterfront.