February 24, 1852


A modern version of a mid-19th century specialty: Kossuth cakes*

Feb 24 Tuesday

1852  Heat the brick oven twice & baked Kossuth

plain & currant cake ginger snaps, mince &

dried apple pies  Afternoon Mrs Homan &

Ann Clarke came to the other part of the house

I went in to see them and staid to tea.  Spent

the evening at Willard Lothrops.  Called at Mr

Torreys & Augustus

It was a big baking day, with Evelina preparing a typical selection of pies, cakes – “plain and currant” –  and ginger snaps.  New to her repertoire was a Kossuth cake, a baked sponge cake with a creme center.

The Kossuth cake was named after the Hungarian political figure (and, briefly, president,) Lajos Kossuth, who was then taking refuge in the United States while trying to raise support for a return to power. During Kossuth’s visit to Maryland, a street vendor in Baltimore named a new baked confection after the hero, who was much feted as a champion of freedom.

The dessert became popular but is largely forgotten today, though the confection can still be found in parts of the south. Naturally, additions and variations to the recipe arose almost immediately, most involving the addition of chocolate poured over the top. A typical modern recipe looks more like a double sugar cookie filled with whipped cream and chocolate frosting than a creme-filled loaf cake.




3 thoughts on “February 24, 1852

  1. Interesting to me that in those days people could eat flour and sugar and I don’t get the impression they were overweight. Yet look how much sitting Evelina does with her sewing (same as computers). I have to wonder what is the difference in our foods?

    • Thanks for the question, Caroline. I agree that Evelina did a great deal of sitting, but she also did a great deal of “choring,” as in making beds, sweeping, dusting, taking up the carpet, putting the carpet back down, etc. In the summer she gardened. My sense is that on most days she put in a couple of hours of housework before she sat down with her needle. We also should remember that, unless she was headed to church or the Gilmore farm, she traveled on foot. People WALKED in those days; they called it “shanking.”
      As far as Evelina’s food intake, you’re right that the Ameses ate calorie-rich foods. But perhaps, at the family meal with six – and often more – people at the table, portions were smaller. The big meal was in the middle of the day, and a much lighter meal was taken at night. Also, Evelina doesn’t seem to have snacked. Unless it was baking day, she stayed out of the kitchen.
      She weighed herself once at the family store, fully clothed in one of the voluminous dresses of the day, and she reported that the scale said 148. So she was within a healthy range for her height, which I take to have been 5′ and maybe 4 to 6 inches. Hard to tell the latter, though.

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