Calumet Baking Powder

Our latest trip to the Brimfield Antique Show netted me not one, but two cooking pamphlets from the Calumet Baking Powder Company – my first ones from that company.

First up, from 1931, “The Calumet Baking Book.”  With an attractive cover and 24 pages of recipes, it’s a great addition to my collection.  It also helpfully points out that it uses a standard of 1 teaspoon of baking powder to one cup of flour – which as I discussed here means that one should double the modern baking powder amounts for its recipes.

I’m also entertained by the experiment it suggests for seeing how the “double acting” part works:

Put two level teaspoons of Calumet Baking Powder into a glass, add two teaspoons of water, stir rapidly five times, and remove the spoon.  You will see the tiny, fine bubbles rise slowly, half filling the glass.  This is Calumet’s first action – the action that takes place in your mixing bowl when you add liquid to the dry ingredients.

After the mixture has entirely stopped rising, stand the glass in a pan of hot water on the stove.  In a moment, a second rising will start and continue until the mixture reaches the top of the glass.  This is Calumet’s second action – the action that takes place in the heat of your oven.

Just in case you, too, ever wondered about that “double action” part.  Plus this is a simple thing you can do in your own kitchen today!  (Assuming it works with modern double-acting baking powder.  Do let me know if it doesn’t!)

For a recipe I’m going with “Palermo Lemon Cake” – the picture looks tasty, doesn’t it?  The cake recipes in this booklet have the interesting feature of specifying how many eggs are needed, in bold type right under the recipe name; I’m not sure why.

2 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour
2 teaspoons Calumet Baking Powder [4 with modern powder]
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter or other shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg, unbeaten
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3/4 cup milk

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift together three times.  Cream butter thoroughly, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy.  Add egg and lemon rind and beat well.  Add flour, alternately with milk, a small amount at a time.  Beat after each addition until smooth.  Bake in two greased 9-inch layer pans in moderate oven (375F) 25 minutes.  Put layers together with Lemon Filling and cover top and sides of cake with Palermo Lemon Frosting).

1 cup sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons flour
Grated rind 2 lemons
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon butter

Combine sugar and flour.  Add lemon rind, lemon juice, and egg.  Cook until thick, stirring constantly.  Add butter.  Enough for two 9-inch layers.

2 egg whites, unbeaten
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Put egg whites, sugar, water, lemon juice, and lemon rind in upper part of double boiler.  Beat with rotary egg beater until thoroughly mixed.  Place over rapidly boiling water, beat constantly with rotary egg beater, and cook 7 minutes, or until frosting will stand in peaks.  Remove from fire and beat until thick enough to spread.  Makes enough frosting to cover tops and sides of two 9-inch layers.

I’m thinking of making this next week – so I’ll need to buy some lemons.

The other Calumet booklet is called “Selected Recipes and Menus for Parties Holidays and Special Occasions” and has an author, Marian Jane Parker, but no definite publication date.  I think it’s from the 1920s; it refers to a 1918 USDA standard, and the foreword is signed by company president Warren Wright, who (according to Internet research) sold the company to General Foods in 1929.  The cover is split from the bottom up to the center staple and it has a number of “used in the kitchen” stains, but it’s also another snapshot of cultural and social ideas of the 1920s (or later?):

A man would say that good food, properly prepared, is all that is necessary.  But a woman longs for new culinary worlds to conquer.  She wearies of the same kind of biscuits, the cake she learned to make for her first grown-up party, the old way of serving chicken.  And she welcomes new ideas that combine simplicity and originality.  If she can pleasantly surprise her evening bridge club without spending the whole afternoon in the effort – so much the better!

The booklet offers suggested menus for various generic occasions: one o’clock luncheon, children’s birthday party, afternoon tea, buffet luncheon, evening refreshments, and afternoon refreshments.  The holidays and special occasions are an interesting assortment: Refreshments for Valentine Parties, the June Wedding, St. Patrick’s Party Luncheon, Menus for the Fourth of July, Lincoln’s Birthday Party, For the Hallowe’en Frolic (including a line drawing of an adult bobbing for apples), Thanksgiving Dinner (of course), A George Washington Party (lots of cherry recipes), and of course Christmas Dinner Plans.

Since the Fourth of July is the next featured holiday on the calendar (never mind Memorial Day, then Decoration Day, apparently), here are the proposed menus:

Cold Fried Chicken
Bread and Butter Sandwiches
Pecan Rolls
Potato Chips – Pickles – Olives
Fresh Fruit – Cup Cakes
Iced Lemonade

Cold Veal Loaf-Sandwiches
Pineapple and Orange Salad
Rolled Cheese Sandwiches
Buttered Rolls
Iced Punch

Melon Cocktail
Chicken Mousse
Shoe String Potatoes
Olives – Pickles
Nut Muffins – Butter
Red, White and Blue Brick Ice Cream
Patriotic Cake

Only four of these items are actually in the booklet (Pecan Rolls, Patriotic Cake, Rolled Cheese Sandwiches, and Veal Loaf, to be precise).  Based just on the name, I’m going with

Patriotic Cake
1/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. sugar
1-2/3 c. sifted flour
1/2 c. milk
2 level tsp. Calumet Baking Powder [3.5 or 4 for modern product]
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Pink coloring

Cream shortening, add sugar gradually.  Then add sifted dry ingredients with milk and flavoring.  Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.  Color one half mixture with pink coloring and fill into a loaf pan alternating the two batters, in order to have a marble appearance.  Bake in a moderate oven (325-350 degrees F.) 35 to 40 minutes.  Cover with white frosting and decorate with flags.

This may be the cake depicted in the picture, with the pink turned into red.  If I was making this, I’d press blueberries into the white frosting to get that red-white-and-blue look for a proper “patriotic cake.”

And actually, the Rolled Cheese Sandwiches are interesting enough to quickly repeat: “Cut soft white bread in thin slices and spread with butter.  Mix cream cheese and a few chopped maraschino cherries until soft enough to spread on the bread.  Roll and tie with red, white and blue ribbons.”

There.  Patriotic enough, right?

Happy Spring!

3 thoughts on “Calumet Baking Powder

  1. Pingback: Thanksgiving Report, 2012 | History Live!

  2. I had grown up using Calumet Baking Powder and although I have lived several places in our country, had not been able to find it. I am now in Virginia and would like to know if it’s sold here in or around the Lynchburg area. I have used other brands but that was because I thought it was no longer for sale. Help.

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