March 19, 2015

reading in the kitchen - vanity cake


During the past few weeks I've been writing about myself a lot as I answer interview questions and assemble guest posts for my upcoming Chick Lit Plus blog tour for The Marrying Type. Consequently, I'm feeling pretty vain right about now, so this next Reading in the Kitchen recipe seems fitting.

In On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder describes the vanity cakes Ma made for a party as honey-brown, puffy circles. Once again, I'm using The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker. In the cookbook, she explains that while Laura herself never learned to make the vanity cakes, her description is consistent with recipes for "vanities" of the time.

The ingredients in vanity cakes are pretty simple. You'll need an egg, a pinch of salt, and some flour. You'll also eventually need oil (or lard if you want to go the original Little House route) for frying and some powdered sugar to shake over the top later.


First up, I sprinkled a pinch of salt in with the egg.


And I mixed it together for at least a minute, per the cookbook's instructions.


Then I spooned in the flour a teaspoon at a time and mixed it until the batter was sticky. I divided the dough into six spoonfuls onto a plate of flour.


Then I flipped the dough in the flour.


And plopped the six balls in the oil. Take a look at that sizzle.


The cookbook said to fry the cakes for more at least three minutes. It also said if the cakes browned too quickly they were cooking too fast. I would guess these were in the pan for about two and a half minutes (but it could have been three) before I removed them. And they turned out just fine.

I set them on paper towel and shook powdered sugar over them.


My vanity cakes probably didn't turn out as pretty looking as Ma's. They were shaped kind of like cauliflower rather than cakes. This could be because I dropped them into the oil a bit timidly rather than forming them into cakes and placing them in more gently. Lesson learned on that front.

That said, they were still pretty delicious, so you can't completely judge a book by its cover.


I imagine you'd want to make more if you're sharing with more than one person. Or you could be a glutton like me and eat them all yourself.


To try the recipe for yourself, turn to pages 202 and 203 in the cookbook.


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