Back in December, the Library hosted an installment of its Dig Into The Archives series on historical recipes. “A Peck, a Bushel, and a Gill: Recipes From The Quaker Collection” not only showcased the interesting cookbooks and volumes of recipes dating back to the 18th century that Project Cataloger Kara Flynn discovered in Quaker and Special Collections, but also served as a taste-test of sorts for the antique vittles since library staff prepared many of the dishes.

For those who were not at the talk and, therefore, didn’t taste such historical delicacies as mincemeat or oyster pie, we are beginning a series of our own on the blog and on Haverford College’s official Facebook page, featuring some of these old-timey sweets. Recipes have been modified with modern measurements and instructions, and College Photo Editor Patrick Montero has shot easy-to-follow, step-by-step videos. So try your hand at making some of these goodies yourself!

Today’s recipe is clove cake, an aromatic, almost-bread-like dessert that’s best eaten warm:


Clove Cake
(Anonymous recipe book, 1862)1 pound butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup molasses
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground clovesHeat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a bundt cake pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, then add the egg yolks and molasses, beating until incorporated.

Sift together the flour with the cloves and add to the butter mixture, beating just until incorporated. Whip the egg whites until medium peaks and fold into the mixture. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake until firm to the touch and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes until unfolding onto wire rack.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this project. I have been very interested to see it online. Perhaps you will share some of your findings with local historical societies or if there are any living history museums of interest. Maybe even put together your own publication! As a hobby, I enjoy old cookbooks, reading about old cookery history, methods, etc. As a homemaker, I enjoy cooking and baking “old fashioned” recipes for my family. This recipe reminds me of the plain but delicious spice cakes my grandmother (French Canadian/ Vermont) used to make. It also reminds me that although most people did not have access to fancy ingredients, their thrifty cooking – without today’s overdone, overestimated ingredients – could produce special treats with plain goodness. Can’t wait to try it!
    Again, your project has been very interesting, and cooking old recipes is certainly a great way to bring history to life — like playing old music, it helps our senses experience and enjoy something of the past.
    Great work!
    From the Parent of a Student

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