PA Digital contributors have shared a number of recipe books with the DPLA so to kick off the summer season, we are highlighting some of the treats to make over the next few months. Warning: sweet tooths should proceed with caution.

First up is a Presbyterian cook-book contributed by the University of Pittsburgh. The recipes were assembled by women from the First Presbyterian Church of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and published in 1900. One particular item that stood out in this publication were the almond hearts cookies. These are a shortbread cookie that isn’t too sweet but would also be excellent with some jam on top too.

Almond hearts – Combine in order of ingredients:

  • Half cup of butter
  • Two cups powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup sweet milk
  • 2 ½ cups flower
  • ½ cup almonds, blanched, cut fine and floured
  • 6 egg whites
  • Almond extract to flavor
  1. Line shallow pan with buttered paper, dust with flower.
  2. Add mixture and bake in ½ sheet at 350° for 15-20 minutes (until golden around edges).
  3. Turn out when done baking, remove paper and let cool.
  4. Cut into small hearts when cooled.
  5. Dip cookies in plain boiled icing.
  6. Then dip into blanched and grated almonds.

One of the best parts of summer, in my opinion, is the abundance of juicy peaches. The Williamsport Cook Book from Lycoming College stood out for its simple pie crust and peach custard pie recipes. The pie crust makes enough for three covered pies so you can freeze the excess for future bakes.

Pie crust recipe:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoonful salt
  • 1 ½ cups lard (or vegetable shortening)
  • 1 cup ice water

Peach custard pie:

  • Use one pie crust.
  • Enough peaches to fill pie pan, peeled and halved, places hollow side up.
    • Canned peaches can be used
  • Sweeten with an egg, pinch of salt and one tablespoon of sugar.
  • Add milk to cover peaches.
  • Bake at 375° for 45 to 50 minutes and eat partly cool.

Not a fan of cookies or pie? How about donuts? Villanova University shared a Prize Cook Book from their digital collections with a cruller recipe that sounds delicious. A batch of these makes about 40 donuts so you might need an army of friends to ensure that none of them go to waste!

Home Made Crullers:

  • 9 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teacup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Half a small grated nutmeg
  • Flour
  1. Beat sugar and butter together.
  2. Mix in eggs, baking powder, milk, salt, and nutmeg.
  3. Add flower until dough is stiff enough to roll on surface.
  4. Cut out circles with holes in center.
  5. Fry in sweet lard until golden.
  6. Roll in powdered sugar when slightly cool.

The Science History Institute provided a unique cookbook called the The Horsford cook book using acid phosphate that was developed in 1868 by Eben Norton Horsford. It has a sour flavored ingredient that was a common ingredient for food and drinks, like Coca-Cola. Its popularity grew because it compensated for the lack of lemons and limes outside of southern states and major port cities in the United States before the advent of modern refrigeration and mass transit. “Horsford’s Bread Preparation” was a self-leavening agent that included cornstarch to keep the ingredients dry, otherwise they would not activate and rise when water is added. Today this ingredient is called baking powder. The coconut cake recipe in this volume is super simple and can be paired with your preferred icing.

“Cocoanut Cake”:

  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 ½ cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • One measure each of Horsford’s Bread Preparation acid and soda (or 1 tablespoon of baking powder)
  • Flavor with lemon
  1. The instructions were limited, but you will want mix your dry ingredients and sift them into a bowl. Put this aside till later.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a separate mixing bowl, add in lemon juice if desired.
  3. Mix in eggs.
  4. Add in dry ingredients, combine and transfer into greased cake pans
  5. Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes. Insert a toothpick to see if it is done. The toothpick should not have any batter on it when removed if it is baked all the way.
No list of food recipes would be complete without some cheese so I couldn’t pass up sharing these ricotta cheese cookies from the  WARM 590 radio: the Mighty 590 cook book from Scranton Public Library. How rich does that sound?

Ricotta cheese cookies:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup margarine (or butter)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Cream sugar and margarine
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, and ricotta cheese; blend till smooth
  3. Add dry ingredients
  4. Drop teaspoonfulls onto greased baking sheet
  5. Bake 10 to 15 minutes at 350°

      There is plenty of baking to keep you busy between these five recipes and the countless others included in these cookbooks if none of these stood out to you. Please let us know if you end up testing out any of these historic recipes and what you thought of the final treat. We would love to hear how the goodies turned out on Twitter (@padigitalnews) or via e-mail (info@padigital.org)!

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