American Cake


American Cake

By Anne Byrn



This is a fun book.  If you love History and you have any interest in cake, you should read this.  Byrn goes through the American history of baking taking one cake at a time, going chronologically as they appear in history.  This includes all the ingredients and measurements used or available at the time.

We take for granted what we have access to, but most of the recipes here are written out of necessity and what was available at the time.  Byrn goes through sweeteners, add ins, such as coconut, and nuts and where they would have been used in the U.S..  This includes baking that was in times of war rationing or economic upheavals.  Baking was obviously influenced by technology, so ovens, beaters, and refrigerators are touched on in how they effected certain cakes.

I borrowed this from the library on Kindle, but I liked it so much I purchased a copy for a mother’s day gift and plan on getting one for myself.  Very good.


I made the classic pound cake that is found in the beginning of the book.  All of the recipes are modified for modern day kitchens.  So, obviously I used an electric mixer instead of a hand mixing.  I changed the amount of eggs.  You can read about that in a previous post that I made here.

As I was creaming the butter and sugar together, I noticed that it was really granular.

IMG_1078.jpgBeing the genius that I am, apparently I measured and weighed everything but the butter. I only had a total of eight ounces and I needed eight more ounces to equal a pound of butter.

Ya know those Facebook posts that are videos of tips and tricks: Like thread a needle by just rolling it back and forth over the thread, or add cut onions to your socks and get rid of your friends and find enlightenment.  Whatever.  Well, I did not want to wait another hour for the additional aforementioned butter to come to room temperature. So, I tried out one of those tricks.

Fill a cup of water. Nuke it for about two minutes till it comes to a boil. Empty the water.  Put it upside down on the butter and wait a couple of minutes.  The first one I did didn’t work that well.  I used a measuring cup and it had a spout on it, so the heat was escaping.  So, I changed to a regular pint glass and put the butter in one at a time.  It worked in five minutes!


Everything else went as planned. I added lemon zest, as they suggested, from our meyer lemons we harvested in December.


I baked this for only an hour and five minutes.  That’s twenty minutes less than what the recipe said.  However, I have an oven from the 1940’s.  Everything bakes much faster.




SOOOOOOO GOOOOOD!  Its a keeper.  This goes in my recipe files.  I’m looking forward to trying the king cake and a few of the others.  I wish I had more pictures of the final cake, but my family devoured it.