I was intrigued by the title of Amelie Langdon’s 1903 cookbook, Just for Two: A Collection of Recipes Designed for Two Persons. Many historic recipes I come across seem to be portioned for an army of twenty, forcing me either to reduce the amounts or to eat leftovers for days. It’s refreshing to see recipes sized for only two people.
I liked the sound of this Peach Tea Cake recipe, although I wasn’t sure exactly how to start. Langdon gives no instructions on how to put the ingredients together, and only one tablespoon of fats seems really low in proportion to the other ingredients. I decided to try what I think of as standard cake-mixing procedure: cream butter and sugar together, beat in eggs, then alternately add dry ingredients and liquid.
Peach Tea Cake:
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon lard (or shortening)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on top
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 – 40 minutes.
I used an 8 x 8 pan, which resulted in the batter being slightly more than 1/2 inch deep. A 9 x 9 pan would probably be a better size for this recipe and would take a little less time to bake.
This ended up with an interesting texture, which reminded me more of a sweet biscuit than of a cake. I’m still not sure if the cake-mixing technique was the right one here; if I try this again, I might try melting the fats as if making muffins. I’ve also seen peach cobbler recipes in which the butter is melted into the bottom of the pan first, then topped with all the other ingredients mixed together. I’m not sure if that’s the intention in the recipe but it might be interesting to try.
The dough right on top of the cake came out a little undercooked, due to the moisture from the peaches. America’s Test Kitchen suggests roasting peaches and then tossing them with bread crumbs in their summer peach cake recipe to avoid this problem; I’m not sure what solution cooks in 1903 would have used. The cake still tastes great even with the slightly soggy bit, so it’s perfectly fine just to leave it as is.
Amelie Langdon suggests serving this cake with cream and sugar, but I thought it was fantastic with vanilla ice cream.
Langdon, A. (1903). Just for two: A collection of recipes designed for two persons. Minneapolis: Byron & Willard. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/justfortwocollec00lang/mode/2up