Now this is something really different, B. Dylan Hollis has baked loads of recipes from old recipe books to curate Baking Yesteryear. The book is divided into sections by decade, an entire section on dates (‘our forefathers and -mothers were utterly obsessed with dates’), another section on no-bake recipes, and an intriguing and thankfully short section on the ‘Worst of the Worst’ – recipes that are truly revolting such as Jellied Meatloaf and Pickle Cheesecake – definitely ones to avoid.
But the other categories reveal some real gems by decade:
The recipes from the 1900s are very different from recipes today, but the Cream Spice Cake gets my tick of approval.
In the 1910s, there was more product variety, and the recipes I liked from this section were the Starchies, made just from sweetened condensed milk, butter and cornstarch, and the sophisticated Lady Baltimore Cake. I will pass on the Pork Cake, though, despite it being a big success for the author.
From the 1920s section, my picks are the Dutch Apple Cake, a classic upside-down cake, and the Unemployment Pudding, which was created out of adversity.
In the 1930s section, The Icebox Pinwheels are marvellous, although I’m not sure about the Potato Doughnuts!
From the 1940s and 1950s, the Peppermint Patties, and Colour Vision Cake most definitely caught my eye.
From the 1960s, the Midnight Mallowmelt Cake is really something to behold with its snowy blanket of marshmallows and frosting.
Of the Jell-O Poke Cake from the 1970s, the author suggests that if a ‘classically trained French pastry chef’ came across this recipe, ‘they’d likely fall to the floor weeping and decry the downfall of humanity’, but this recipe is loads of fun!
From the 1980s the author worries about ‘the mental constitution of some of the recipe writers’, and I can see why with the recipe Velveeta Fudge!
B. Dylan Hollis is hilarious, and this book is a unique sweet treat, a time machine of recipes from yesteryear. Some are delicious, some are decidedly odd, but all the recipes are fabulously entertaining.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan