Old-Lady Cooking (and Cake)

Reader Contribution by Connie Moore
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While searching for a recipe request, we came across a recipe named Old Lady Cake. Well, it got us to thinking about “fancy” versus “plain” cooking. Just what is the difference? Age certainly has something to do with it, but age of who or what? Is the recipe plain if it is over fifty years old? Or maybe it’s plain cooking if the cook is over fifty?

Or is “plain cooking” a term for anything fixed on a regular basis, with regular ingredients, and eaten on a regularly scheduled day? You know, like years ago Mondays were bean soup day because it could simmer while the laundry was being done, or Sunday was pot roast day because it could cook in the oven while everybody was at church.

Another way to look at this age-related cooking question is found in the popular commercial ending, “What’s in your wallet?” You might recognize it as a Capitol One’s charge card slogan. But for us old folks, today’s charge card was not in our wallets years ago. We tendered in cash, and that had a direct bearing on what was in our cupboards. A loaded wallet tended to make for a cupboard well-stocked. Therefore, some fancy cooking might occur in place of plain, everyday cooking.

So, what’s in your cupboard? How you look at, that’s up to you.

We kind of took that “old lady” cake thing personally. While mulling it over, we went for ice cream.

Old Lady Cake Recipe


• 1/4 cup butter
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 egg, beaten
• 2 cups sifted cake flour
• 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup sour milk


1. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg, beat well.

2. Sift all of the dry ingredients together three times.

3. Then add the dry mix to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk as you do.

4. Bake in a greased tube pan at 350 degrees F for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in middle of cake.

5. Cool for 5 minutes, release from pan. Cool completely.

6. Ice with favorite frosting or glaze.

Recipe source: Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedia Cookbook, 1948.

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