Crying over spilt milk

Ok not actually spilt milk, I dropped a dozen eggs. There also weren’t any actual tears, I was more angry at myself. The sentiment was about right though. I treat the ladies eggs as gifts. Each one is an amazing gift. I dropped an entire carton. 5 were fine, not cracked. 2 were beyond hope spread across the kitchen floor but the other 5 were only cracked. I decided they were still usable as long as it was the same day.

When my grandmother passed away I inherited her mothers (my great grandmothers) old cooking books. They are recipes cut out of newspapers from the 1920’s through to the 1950’s. They are fascinating. The advice, the advertising, the ingredients! What is a gill? Oh of course that is 118mls (thanks google). And man did they use a lot of dripping in their recipes. I am choosing to use butter. There were a lot from during the war so they have ration cake, ration meals, eggless/butterless/sugarless cakes. Last week I made some Rock cakes from one of the recipes, under the title it stated “Housewives are recommended to try the following”. They were quite nice 🙂

I think though that there was a general accepted level of knowledge in the kitchen. Knowledge that I do not possess. They are really light on the details. I assume that the housewives of the time knew a lot more about baking or the people were paying per word in the recipe section. The rock cake recipe just said add milk. Not add milk til mixture comes together or until forms smooth batter or until anything at all! Then place on trays and bake in a fairly hot oven. No size, no temperature, no time length. No worries they turned out lovely!

I decided to make this caramel chocolate cake that used 3 of my broken eggs. The cake was cooling on the counter when I decided to tackle the icing. Boil the milk and sugar together. Add the butter and vanilla. Seems fine. I started boiling the milk and sugar and wondered if I was supposed to be letting it brown as in caramalise.


I did not have time to google if caramel is one of those things you stir or don’t stir. I realised about 10 minutes in that I had just been conned into making caramel. I thought the caramel in the title was the brown sugar in the cake. A little more thought about the recipe itself could probably have enlightened me, but anyway (I actually just reread the recipe and those last 3 words should have told me!) I persevered. I decided to stir. I stirred and stirred, I had the most glorious looking caramel colour and consistency so I went to the next step, I added the butter. Within a second the whole mixture puffed up to double its size and then turned to sand.


I have no idea what happened. Maybe it was because it was salted butter, maybe because the instructions indicated it was to be made on a fire and I made it on a boring stove top (joke!), maybe the temperature was wrong, maybe you aren’t supposed to mix it. What ever the reason, I didn’t let it get me down. Turned it into a very artful cake that tasted lovely.

Only thought to take a photo after my sister and I had already eaten a piece…

The extra texture of the crumbly caramel was an added delight. I will continue to blindly bake my way through these recipes and see what I get to eat.


2 thoughts on “Crying over spilt milk

  1. I loved reading this. My Oma has cookbooks bursting with magazine and newspaper cut outs. She’s very knowledgeable in the kitchen and with spices especially. They used to make absolutely everything, and they saved and used everything as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, there are so many interesting recipes in the pile and some had not been cut yet so I got to read the surrounding sections. People writing in with their cooking questions, solutions for common household problems etc. Some of the advice makes me cringe “If you cannot afford or do not have a good pot for making your jam in simply put an asbestos mat beneath your pot.” NO!! Not asbestos!!!! But I will be trying out some of the other solutions offered. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through them. Everything I have made has tasted good, I expect I will enjoy baking my way through the rest. The knowledge that your Oma has must be immense! Years of cooking everything from scratch and valuing every ingredient, not wasting anything. I dream of possessing such knowledge, I would settle for a good feel for spices, they can turn a meal from mediocre to amazing. Her food must taste like heaven 🙂


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