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Grandma’s Cookbook – 3 Vintage Cake Recipes That Stand the Test of Time

By Michele D. Baker

This article first appeared in the April/May 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI.

My grandmother used to tell me it wasn’t a coincidence that our last name is Baker. We were that family that contributed to church bazaar cookbooks, charity fundraising cookbooks and sent recipes to the local paper. The women – and most of the men, too – would pore over stacks and stacks of cookbooks on every culinary topic imaginable, and my grandmother (and then my mother) had the entire 1970s “Good Cook” cookbook set published by Time Life.

My favorites were always the baking books. I continue to be fascinated by bread, rolls, baps, breadsticks, cottage loaves, brownies, cookies, cakes, and anything else containing flour. Thank heaven I’m not gluten intolerant!


These three vintage cake recipes are adapted from Grandma’s church picnic cookbooks, updated slightly using companion recipes from Taste of Home. I encourage you to bring back these well-loved treasures from another era and remember why they are classics!


Classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake


Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1 can (20 ounces) sliced pineapple

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

  • 3 large eggs, separated, room temperature

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 9 maraschino cherries

  • Whipped topping, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. In an ungreased 9-in. square baking pan, combine butter and brown sugar. Drain pineapple, reserving 1/3 cup juice. Arrange 9 pineapple slices in a single layer over sugar (refrigerate any remaining slices for another use). Sprinkle pecans over pineapple; set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Blend in vanilla and reserved pineapple juice. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to batter, beating well.

  3. In a small bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Spoon into pan.

  4. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before inverting onto serving plate. Place a cherry in the center of each pineapple slice. If desired, serve with whipped topping.


Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients for the cake:

  • 2/3 cup shortening

  • 1-1/2 cups sugar

  • 2 large eggs, separated, room temperature

  • 2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 medium)

  • 1 cup 2% milk

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened

  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Dash salt

  • Sliced banana, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. In a bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside.

  3. In another bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add bananas and milk; mix just until combined.

  4. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix just until blended.

  5. Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter.

  6. Pour into a greased 9” x 13” baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese icing:

  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and salt; beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cake. Store in the refrigerator. If desired, serve with sliced bananas.

NOTE: Avoid overmixing banana cake! Stirring too much will create more gluten, which will lead to a dense cake. To get a soft and light cake, stir just until the ingredients are combined.


Chocolate Icebox Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

  • 2 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 package (9 ounces) chocolate wafers

  • Chocolate curls, optional

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until stiff. Spread heaping teaspoonfuls on the cookies. Make 6-8 stacks of cookies; turn stacks on edge and place on a serving platter, forming a 14” long “cake.”

  2. Frost top and sides with remaining whipped cream. If desired, garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate 4-6 hours before serving.

  3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or freeze, wrapped in foil, for up to 1 month. Thaw before serving.

NOTES: This is a fun recipe to really make your own. Swap out the chocolate wafers with your favorite cookie or add layers of chocolate, chopped nuts, fruit, or peanut butter between the wafer layers.

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