Mary Beth York from Niles, Mich., was copying some old recipes a friend had collected over the years and stuck in the back of a cookbook from 1942 when she came across one called "Crisco Breath o' Spring" cake. Unfortunately, there was some damage to the recipe and she was unable to read parts of it. Apparently, the recipe was on the label of a can of Crisco, but when York contacted the Crisco company, she was told that they do not save all their old recipes and no longer had the one she was looking for. York was hoping someone still had the recipe and would be willing to share it with her.
Diane Jensen from Alamogordo, N.M., sent in the recipe for the cake York was looking for that Jensen said was copied from a photograph of the original Crisco advertisement from 1945. She did not say where she found it, but when I did an Internet search of my own I found a copy of the Crisco ad that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal on March 25, 1945.
The ad was introducing a collection of brand-new, easy cake recipes called Pride 'n' Joy cakes that were specially perfected for Crisco. The ad said, "Pure, snowy Crisco is fresh and sweet as new-churned butter. It brings out the full, rich flavor of your cakes. And Crisco has developed a special baking secret. It gives you lighter, more tender cakes. Yes, even lighter, then cakes made with the most expensive shortenings!" It goes on to proclaim, "Crisco is the ideal cake shortening no matter what recipe you use. But if you want cake at it's most delicious best — just make the Breath o' Spring cake with Crisco today!"
I don't think I've ever made a cake with Crisco — I'm a butter baker — but I must confess this cake pleasantly surprised me. I made a quick frosting with chocolate chips and butter, and in no time at all I had quite a tasty old-fashioned layer cake made without a mix. It was indeed moist and rich with a wonderful light texture.
At the very bottom of the old advertisement there is an offer for the "New Crisco Cook Book." In those pre-Internet days, one could simply send in 10 cents and a Crisco label (any size) to the company to receive a copy of the 64-page cookbook from Crisco that included recipes for many more Pride 'n' Joy cakes. Wonder if anyone out there still has that book in his or her collection?
Donna Marsh from Hanover is looking for the barbecue recipe from the old farmers' market on Richie Highway in Glen Burnie. It was a very thin sauce that poured over cut-up rotisserie chicken. She thinks a Mr. Pressman owned the shop.
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Crisco Breath o' Spring cake
Makes 1 two-layer 8- or 9-inch cake
2 cups cake flour (sift before measuring)
11/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Crisco
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
Beat vigorously by hand or with a mixer on medium speed fro 2 minutes. Now quickly stir in (yes all by itself)
3 teaspoons baking powder*
2 eggs (unbeaten)
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift flower into a mixing bowl. Add sugar, Crisco, salt and milk. Beat vigorously by hand or with a mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Now quickly stir in baking powder.
Then add eggs, milk and vanilla. Blend by hand or in mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes. The batter will be smooth and thin. Pour into two shallow 9- or 10-inch-deep layer pans that have been rubbed with Crisco and dusted with flour.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until baked through.
Frost with your favorite boiled icing and decorate with candied flowers.
*Double-action or phosphate-type baking powder use 3 teaspoons. With tartrate type use 4 teaspoons