Anne Series · Montgomery

Anne’s Buttercup Cake

Author: L.M. Montgomery
Book: Anne of Avonlea
Difficulty rating: Little Women
Deliciousness rating: Poor

Part of Anne’s Golden Picnic

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“I’m going to have the daintiest things possible … things that will match the spring, you understand … little jelly tarts and lady fingers, and drop cookies frosted with pink and yellow icing, and buttercup cake” (102).

Did they measure up?
We found not one, but TWO buttercup cake recipes we wanted to try — one from the 1897 edition of Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cookbook (Thank you again, Culinary Historians of Canada!), and a more modern version from a 1940 Betty Crocker article.

Unfortunately, they both turned out kinda blah. The traditional one was way too sweet, and I found the mace flavor cloying and unpleasant. Poo. The modern cake had turned out too dense and dry. Bad luck!

BUTTERCUP CAKE (TRADITIONAL)

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1.5 cup sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ tsp soda
  • 1.5 tsp cream of tartar or 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 saltspoonful (¼ tsp) of mace

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.

2. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature, including the milk (which we totally forgot to do.)

3. Cream the butter till it’s fluffy and paler in color.

4. Add the sugar. Beat.

5. Add the egg yolks, beaten.

6. Add in whole egg.

7. Add the milk. Beat for a while, maybe 3 minutes, until it’s fluffier and increased in volume.

8. Sift flour, soda, baking powder, and mace together. Add to batter.

9. Split the batter into two pans.

10. Bake until the cake shrinks away a little from the pan.

 

BUTTERCUP CAKE (MODERN)

Cake Ingredients:

  • ½ cup shortening (part butter for flavor)
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp soda
  • ½ salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • ¼ tsp lemon extract
  • ¼ tsp orange extract

Cake Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2. Cream shortening and butter.

3. Add sugar gradually, and cream until fluffy.

4. Blend in well-beaten eggs.

5. Sift flour, baking powder, baking powder, and salt together.

6. Stir into a cream mixture alternately with the buttermilk.

7. Blend in the flavorings.

8. Pour into 2 greased and floured 8-inch round layer cake pans.

9. Bake 30-35 minutes.

10. When cooled, spread Buttercup Icing between layers and over top and sides.

Icing Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs water
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ other flavoring
  • 3 tbs very soft butter (not melted)

Icing Directions:

1. Combine egg whites, sugar, and water in the top of a double boiler. Beat together just enough to completely blend ingredients.

2. Place over rapidly boiling water. Beat with hand mixer until the icing is white and very light. This takes 4-5 minutes.

3. Remove from over boiling water, beat in flavorings, and then beat occasionally until cool. When icing is completely cool, fold in the butter.

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See how weird and dense? It seems like there was too much flour in the recipe. I’d try 2.5 cups total, rather than 2.5 of each type. 

*Update: one of our dear Culinary Historian friends checked her 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook, and it says 2.5 cups all-purpose flour OR 2.5 cups cake flour. The newspaper article omitted that crucial “or”. THANKS A LOT.

 

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On the other hand, the combination of lemon, orange, and almond is delightful!
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We made a sugar syrup with the same flavorings, to try to moisten the cake a bit.
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Not all that successful…

Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Avonlea. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc., 1909.

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