AN OLD RECIPE (a poem + recipe)


It was a very old recipe tucked into a book
That my mother had used whenever she cooked,
Not a cookbook per se, but a journal to write
Thoughts of the day, some poignant, some trite;
A newspaper clipping, quite yellowed with age,
Nestled inside and staining the page
In which it had nestled for many long years,
And as I read it my eyes filled with tears.
For here was my mother’s noted recipe for
The old fashioned sponge cake she made by the score,
For all of our birthdays, this was the cake
That mother would quickly, efficiently, make –
Without a card or checking her book;
We thought that she was quite an outstanding cook.
I had watched mother make it enough times and yet
Had never written it down–but here, heaven-sent
Was that same recipe, and I could have cried;
I thought it was lost when my mother had died.

Old Fashioned Sponge Cake

The following recipe for an old fashioned sponge cake, if
Followed minutely, will prove infallible. Beat the yolks and
Whites of six fresh eggs together two minutes; add three
Measuring cupfuls of sugar and beat the sugar and eggs
Five minutes. Mix two teaspoonfuls of cream of tartar
With two cupfuls of flour, beat this together with the eggs
And sugar two minutes. Next Dissolve one teaspoonful of
Baking soda in a cup of cold water, pour it in with the other
Ingredients and beat them all one minute. Add the juice
And grated rind of half a lemon, a salt-spoonful of salt
And two more cups of flour and beat the whole together
Another minute. Observe the time exactly. Line two
Medium size cake pans with tissue paper buttered well on
Both sides. Pour the mixture in the pans and bake
In a quick oven.

(typed exactly as printed)

*Not sure what a salt-spoonful is but I would guess half a teaspoon of salt
*Never heard of using tissue paper to line pans; my earliest memories are of wax paper
being used for this.

–Sandra Lee Smith
February 8, 2009


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