Last week I told the tale of some cookbooks and recipe cards I inherited from my grandma. I ended up giving you a recipe that my preteen self made that was so good my grandma had asked for the recipe. Today I will delve into the marvel that is the cookbook itself. Beyond the notecards found in it, it was thoroughly worth investigating to learn more about my heritage.

There are things you will expect in vintage church cookbooks. They are paperback, generally without pictures, and frequently less-than-organized. The recipes, contributed by the congregation will all have different authors. This particular cookbook is called Milford’s Favorite Recipes and was compiled by “the W. S. C. S. of the Methodist Church” and published in 1950. I think that stands for Women’s Society Church….I’m not sure about that last S. It doesn’t say. But there is a long list of the various church “officers”, “secretaries” and “circles” so they were quite a group, whoever they were.

And I guess whoever they were included my great-grandma. A member of the “O.C. Circle.” Again no idea what O.C. stands for but this was in Michigan so not Orange County.

Throughout the book there are a fair amount of ads for local businesses, along with little blurbs instructing you to “patronize merchants advertised in this book.” The merchants include everything from gas stations to granite to Newell’s .05 to $5.00 store where you can buy shoes and “wearing apparel.” As opposed to apparel you just put in your closet and forget about? I dunno.

Also scattered through the book are all sorts of practical tips like beauty hints. One of my favorite tips was to “avoid worrying” since furrowing your brow and frowning causing wrinkles. Now I am gonna worry that I am worrying. Thanks, Milford Methodist.

In the front of the book is a post-it on which my grandma had noted page numbers for recipes contributes by Mrs. Floyd Jones. Since back then they basically called you by you husband’s name it took me a moment to realize that Mrs. Floyd Jones was actually Clara Huff Jones aka my great-grandmother. It is obvious we’re related seeing as she contributed a recipe for dessert. I made the applesauce cake with penuche frosting and felt the ancestral spirit run through my body. Actually I just really liked it, and knowing me did a stupid happy dance in my kitchen. So I’m passing the recipe along to you! Enjoy.

Applesauce Cake and Penuche Frosting adapted from Milford’s Favorite Recipes

For cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. soda (baking soda, I assumed)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup soft shortening (I used butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup nuts (I left out)

For frosting:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. milk (I had cashew milk)
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

For cake preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan. Sift the flour, salt, soda, cinnamon and cloves. In a separate bowl creme the sugar and shortening (butter) then beat in the egg. I used an electric mixer. Add the flour mixture alternating with the applesauce. Stir in the nuts if you are using them. Pour into the pan and smooth top. Bake 50-60 minutes.

For the frosting put everything but the vanilla in in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Cool to lukewarm. Add the vanilla and beat until thick enough to spread. Mine never got thick enough but it was still a tasty glaze. If, on the other hand it gets too thick beat in some hot water or cream. Pour and/or spread over the cake.

[Image via author]