Buckeye Caramel Cake
by Chase Dermott, Education & Public Programs Manager
After the savory baked tomatoes we started with, our series was begging for a dessert! I returned to my muse, Pull Together: A Gift from the Merchants of Everett to the Newlyweds to find something sweet for Sunday. I found the advertisement for Buckeye products I admired last week and giggled because the girl in the ad looks like she’s up to something. This appeals to me.
I chose a recipe from the Buckeye section and read through it to make sure I knew what I was in for. Let’s ignore the devious intro line and the all-caps directions (which I read in a yelling voice) and look at our task at hand:
“Buckeye Caramel Cake
Try this on your family: Cream ½ cup butter with 1½ cups sugar; add yolks of two eggs and one cup of cold water, two cups of flour, two teaspoonfuls BUCKEYE BAKING POWDER, and beat three minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of BUCKEYE CARAMEL FLAVOR and 1 teaspoon of BUCKEYE VANILLA, and the well beaten whites of the two eggs.
Bake in two or three layers. Use boiled icing, flavored with caramel flavor and vanilla.”
I thought it might be fun to explore (and possibly locate) the exact brand of products the recipe called for, so I set out to learn about the Buckeye Extract Company, owned by J.B. Stentz out of Olympia, WA.
According to the Historic Property Inventory Report for the Stentz House, the Ohio native “started the manufacture of flavoring extracts, toilet supplies and medicinal preparations in Olympia. He also dealt in spices, baking powder, teas, coffees, mustard, vinegar, ammonia bluing and soda under the Buckeye Extract Label. His plant was located first at Capitol Way north of the fire station… During World War II alcohol and spices were difficult to obtain which ended the business.”
I guess it’s safe to say I will not be able to use Buckeye brand products.
Grocery shopping proved to be quite an adventure. If, like me, you thought caramel was a pretty standard flavor in the baking section, you would be wrong. I went to six stores before I found it in stock, and four of those stores don’t carry it at all. Guys, they carry anise and Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract, but not caramel. I know, I was outraged, too.
Like our last recipe, there are no baking times or temperatures included in this recipe. Evidently, people in the 1920s instinctively knew what they were doing. I did some searching for similar recipes which made me realize how heavily I rely on the internet to provide supplementary instructions. I did so many Googles. How did people successfully make this stuff 100 years ago?
Let’s do this.
I decided on baking directions from this recipe and preheated the oven to 350 degrees. I figured we’d check the layers at 20 minutes and adjust from there.
While the oven was preheating, I prepped the ingredients. I cheated right off the bat, softening the butter in a microwave which our 1920s friends didn’t have. My bad, y’all. However, since electric mixers were invented in 1908, I got to use mine guilt-free (see how well I Google?).
After the butter I move on to the rest of the ingredients. I’ve never beaten egg whites before and let me tell you that was a wild ride. They got all fluffy and poofy, you guys!
Mixing the batter was easy. Initially I thought 3 minutes was way too long to beat the batter, but after the egg whites and flavorings were added, the batter consistency was perfect. *kisses fingers like an Italian chef*
My pans are both square but have different degrees of roundness on the corners, so layering this cake will be, uh, interesting. I did see a seashell shaped baking mold at Goodwill and BELIEVE ME I was tempted to make this the most extra caramel cake you’ve ever seen. Maybe next time.
I checked the layers after 20 minutes of baking and it was pretty clear that they were not ready . I added 10 minutes to the timer and hoped baking both layers at the same time was not a mistake (it probably was).
30 minutes did the trick. I let them cool enough to handle and attempted to flip them onto a wire rack. Despite the fact that I coated the pans with nonstick spray before pouring in the batter, the cake layers really put up a fight.
After a little damage control, I’m ready for icing. Now, I’m a canned buttercream frosting kind of girl, so making icing from scratch already has me worried. I looked through my cookbooks at home before doing a quick internet search. There were lots of recipes available, but the deciding factor was the caption for this one from our new friend, Carol (who doesn’t know she’s our new friend):
“This recipe is quite old, and belonged to my mother.”
I imagine Carol’s mom would not like the “old” comment, but hopefully we can make her proud.
I started the icing process feeling hopeful, beating the egg whites while my lovely little pot of sugar boiled pleasantly on the stove. Little did I know, it held such potential for destruction.
What one minute was clear, glassy bubbles of sweetness instantly turned into a brown, burnt tar of sadness that enveloped my delightfully fluffy eggs and turned them into a thick, sticky lava, instantly adhering to everything it touched. Spoons were covered with a permanent, crystalline glaze. Hard droplets of devastation rained down upon my unsuspecting countertops like a sugary Blitzkrieg. A baby cries. Sirens sound in the distance. Tell my family I love them.
I have few photos of these moments as I was desperately trying to salvage what I could but it was no use. The tar of death coated everything. Carol’s mom judges me.
It’s a good thing we live in a world where a perfect frosting exists already and is readily available.
With a workable frosting in hand, I was able to finish the cake. I trimmed the bottom layer so the shapes would match and slapped on some delicious canned buttercream and caramel drizzle.
Perfecto! The cake itself was moist with great flavor and we didn’t miss the caramel frosting (which tasted as bad as it behaved). My whole family agreed the cake recipe is a keeper.
What I’d keep: The 350 degree oven and 30 minute bake time were perfect and making a cake from scratch was highly satisfying. Angels were singing, birds were chirping. My children followed the wafting smell of baked goodness into the daylight, blinking in disbelief.
What I’d change: I would not use Carol’s mom’s recipe. Sorry, Carol. Save yourself the trouble and make a simpler icing recipe, or buy some you already know you like (buttercream gives me life).
Things I Googled during this episode:
“How to cream butter”
“When were microwaves invented?”
“How to remove mascara from apron”
Cost: It’s hard to say since many of these ingredients are pantry staples. The caramel flavoring was $3 and the buttercream was less than $2. The icing will cost you your soul.
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Baked Tomatoes and Green Olives
by Chase Dermott, Education & Public Programs Manager
If you take a walk through the archives of the Everett Museum of History, you’ll find thousands of artifacts that grab your attention and teach you something about Everett’s dynamic history. From photographs to furniture, you can find an artifact to represent every aspect of life in Everett. Possibly the most entertaining part of this process is finding relatable, everyday items; the most mundane things are often the most fascinating. And what could be more fun than taking these tidbits of advice and trying them in a modern-day setting?
In our new blog series, emoh@home, we’ll be trying out recipes, household tricks, beauty tips and more for the amusement of the masses. You won’t want to miss the
ridiculousness solid historical research we’re about to dive into.
With that being said, we’re starting this series off with one of our favorite things: food. In this episode, I try a recipe that had my mouth watering when I read the title: Baked Tomatoes and Green Olives from Pull Together: A Gift from the Merchants of Everett to the Newlyweds. This cookbook is the muse that inspired emoh@home, so it’s fitting that our first experience comes from its pages. We know very little about where the book came from, but we’re excited about how much information it gives us about Everett in the 1920s!
“Baked Tomatoes and Green Olives
6 ripe tomatoes
½ c. stoned green olives
½ c. bread crumbs
¼ t. pepper
1 tb. grated onion
2 tb. butter
½ t. salt
Cut a slice from the stem ends of tomatoes; remove the seeds. Mix all the ingredients, fill into the tomatoes, heaping it up in the center. Dot the top with butter and stand them in a baking pan with ½ c. water and bake in hot oven 35 to 40 minutes, basting once at (sic) twice. This makes a good luncheon or supper dish.”
I had to plan this dish for a night when I already had something else on the menu for my kids because let’s be honest… tomatoes. Also, I couldn’t imagine having to answer the question “what’s that green stuff?” one more time this week.
I headed to Sno-Isle Natural Foods Co-op on Grand Ave. to pick up supplies and spent a moment appreciating the wonderful organic tomatoes.
I had to be particular about tomato shape because I knew these guys would need to sit up straight, so I chose the six most beautiful tomatoes I could find. They were so ripe, I was afraid they’d burst in my hands. After failing to locate butter made locally, I settled for butter in a fancy box. I did a quick search on what exactly they meant by “stoned green olives” (FYI, they just mean pitted) and gathered the rest of my missing ingredients.
I already had bread crumbs at home and debated between traditional and panko. In the end, I decided on traditional because I thought the lovely crispiness of panko bread crumbs would be wasted inside a juicy tomato. It was a good call.
Assembling the tomatoes was easy. Instead of including the olives whole, I tore them a little as though I’d pitted them myself (you know, just in case) and to make sure there was plenty of surface area for the bread crumbs to stick to. Also, in case you’re ever instructed to grate onion, I’m telling you right now you might as well just mince it with a knife. Grating it reduced the onion to a watery paste.
I filled the tomato cups and lamented the fact that that they were only ¾ full and I didn’t get to heap anything. It’s the little things, guys. However, I did get an immense amount of pleasure putting a pat of butter on each one because butter.
I did a little research to determine an appropriate temperature for the tomatoes to bake because “hot oven” doesn’t tell me much. Deciding on 350 degrees, I put the tomatoes in the oven and set the timer for 40 minutes. Now at this point I have half a can of green olives taunting me from the other side of the kitchen and I’m not one to ignore such things. Predictably, I grab a handful of the salty morsels, pop them in my mouth, and quickly realize they taste exactly like black olives. Imposters! I realize that I’m not going to get the salty, savory stuffed tomatoes I’ve been looking forward to for weeks, but I’m nothing if not hungry so down the hatch they go.
The final product was surprisingly good! The bread crumbs did get a little soggy inside the tomatoes (called it), emphasizing the importance of really cleaning the seeds out of the tomato shells, but mixed with butter they gave the whole thing a wonderful flavor. To make up for the lack of cardiac episode-inducing sodium levels I was craving, I added salt. The tomatoes themselves were perfect and the olives had great texture and flavor. Overall it was a success, although neither of my children would even give me a no-thank-you bite. One of them hid from me. Baby steps.
What I’d keep: I’d definitely spring for good tomatoes again and the bake time and temperature were right on the mark.
What I’d change: I’d replace the canned imposters with jarred green olives, double the olive and onion quantities, and include only enough bread crumbs to coat the rest of the ingredients, leaving any loose bread crumbs behind.
Cost: About $20 if you have bread crumbs, salt, and pepper at home and you splurge on organic tomatoes!
If you decide to try this recipe, be sure to post all about it and tag us on social media. We’d love to see it! And don’t forget to share this gem with your friends so more people can watch us embarrass ourselves for the sake of history.
Come join the EMOH team down at Everett Station tomorrow for an amazing city-wide birthday party and participate in our scavenger hunt! Drop by on your way in and pick up a form and head out to find the answers! Complete it and be entered to win this EMOH bag full of Everett-themed goodies, pictured in front of our new home at 2939 Colby Avenue! Stay tuned for updates!
Thank you to our sponsors Live in Everett, Escape Scene, Brooklyn Bros. Pizzeria, Sno-Isle Food Co-op, and Elizabeth Person Art & Design for making this possible!
See you tomorrow!
We are so sad to hear of the passing of David Dilgard, Everett historian, advocate, and founder of Everett Public Library’s Northwest Room with Margaret Riddle. He will be much missed.
We’re only three weeks away from joining the city to celebrate Everett’s 125th Birthday!
Grab your form on the way in, find the answers, and be entered to win a prize bag full of Everett-themed swag and other amazing goodies! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing our sponsors and their amazing gifts, so stay tuned and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! We are so excited to introduce ourselves to all of you and celebrate in such a fun way!
You might be wondering what these two pieces are and why the Museum would collect them?
These are two pieces of slag found by a local homeowner on his property that borders the original location of the Puget Sound and Alaska Powder Company Mill which exploded on September 17, 1930. For more information take a look at Margaret Riddle’s excellent essay here.