Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cup Cake a.k.a 1-2-3-4 Cake: If You Can Count to Four You Can Make This Cake!

Cup Cakes

1-2-3-4 cake is an easy recipe to remember because the name of it indicates the measurements of the ingredients used for it: One cup butter, two cups sugar, three cups flour, and four eggs. This was the first historic recipe I ever made as a college intern at the Geneva Historical Society in New York State.  I had to make it from scratch, including making the butter in a churn, grinding the spices, and even grinding the sugar straight off the sugar cone (sugar was sold in cone-shaped solid forms until the 20th century).   I even had to learn how to bake it in the open hearth!  Now I am presenting a version of this program to the many organizations I visit.  

Here is the recipe in its original form from Lydia Child’s 1832 cookbook, The American Frugal Housewife:


Cup Cake
Cup cake is about as good as pound cake, and is cheaper. One cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs, well beat together, and baked in pans or cups. Bake twenty minutes, and no more.


Recipe Modernization (in case you're not equipped with a churn!):

1 Cup (8 Ounces or 2 Sticks) Butter, Softened
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
3 Cups All-Purpose Flour or White Whole Wheat Flour or Replace 1/4 cup of the All-Purpose Flour with Wheat Germ and/or Bran
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
4 Large Eggs, Separated

  • Heat the Oven to 375ยบ F.
  • Prepare Pans: Butter Muffin Pans or Patty Pans
  • Yield: About 20 
  1. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to blend the butter and sugar together . 
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour and spices. Set aside. 
  3. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk until fluffy, about 30 strokes of the whisk. 
  4. Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until very fluffy but not to the point where soft peaks form, about 100 strokes of the whisk (you can use an electric mixer being careful not to over mix). 
  5. Add the egg yolks to the egg whites and whisk together until blended. 
  6. Add the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture alternately with the flour. Mix until the flour is well-incorporated. 
  7. Divide the batter evenly among batter among 20 muffin cups or patty pans. 
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. 
  9. Remove from the pans immediately.

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