I always believed in Betty Crocker–I wanted to believe. However one day, similar to Nancy Drew’s author Carolyn Keene, I got shot down. I found out that Betty was just a brand name and trademark developed by the Washburn Crosby Company. The story goes that they chose Betty as her name because it sounded as American as the Apple Pie she would show us all how to make.
The original Betty Crocker New Picture Cookbook was first published in 1951 and everyone knows someone that has a Betty Crocker Cookbook in their home. Betty, like Margie Blake from the Carnation Company, was important to me as my mother died young and food some how replaced parental figures. In the 50’s my mother used to make tuna pinwheels and canned devilled ham canapes for her canasta parties. She was a stickler for an attractive food presentation and always took the foil completely off the TV dinners before serving.
Everyone baked bread but I guess not all people like Betty’s Fruit loaf recipes because on page 78 of this cookbook the former owner wrote:
“Terrible; even Nookie the dog turned it down”.
The steamed brown bread people used to bake in a can, and that was another baking tragedy. It was so horrible my Dad took my Grandmother’s failed recipe target shooting at least once a month at the Cowansville dump. I would like to think that some of those rats got to feast on one of those brown breads. Of course, maybe after sampling it they might have wanted to be put out of their misery.
I used to love Betty Crocker’s 7 minute frosting that my mother would put it on some of her 1950s nuclear coloured cake. Then there was the Floating Islands, homemade rice pudding, chilled with whipped cream and cinnamon on top. My grandmother’s specialty was steamed English Pudding, and when she was done she would soak lumps of sugar with orange extract and then place them decoratively around the pudding. One by one each lump would be lighted with a match which would result in an near miss explosion each time.
Nostalgic triggers a story about our lives, helping us reflect on traditions and moments about the days when my Grandparents were alive. That’s why we should never lose print recipes, and real paper-based cookbooks. Those notes and books will always resonate with us because we get to see and relive the gravy stained favourites, and the personal notes in the margins.
I do leave you with a wonderful Betty Crocker cake recipe from Rochelle’s Vintage Recipes and hopefully memories of culinary days gone by.
Orange Chiffon Cake
2 1/4 cups sifted Softsilk Cake Flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
MEASURE and SIFT together above ingredients in mixing bowl. Make a well and add in order:
1/2 cup cooking (salad) oil
5 unbeaten egg yolks (medium size)
3/4 cup cold water
grated rind of 2 oranges (about 3 tablespoons)
Beat with spoon until smooth.
Measure into large mixing bowl:
1 cup egg whites (7 or 8)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
WHIP until whites form very stiff peaks. They should be much stiffer than for angel food or meringue. DO NOT UNDERBEAT.
POUR egg yolk mixture gradually over whipped egg whites-gently folding with rubber scraper just until blended. DO NOT STIR! POUR into ungreased pan immediately. BAKE in 10-inch tube, 4-inch deep at 325 degrees 55 minutes then 350 10 to 15 minutes. or 9x13x2-in. oblong 350- 45 to 50 minutes. or until top springs back when lightly touched. Immediately turn pan upside down, placing tube part over neck of funnel or bottle, or resting edges of square, oblong, or loaf pans on 2 other pans. Let hang, free of table, until cold. Loosen from sides and tube with spatula. Turn over and hit edge sharply on table to loosen.
Fluffy Orange Icing
Ideal for your orange Chiffon… Cream one and one half 3 0z. pkg. cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar. Beat well. Stir in grated rind of 2 oranges…1 1/2 tbsp. If too thick to spread, add a few drops of orange juice.
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