Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Lydia M. Child’s Loaf Cake

Posted by bakinghistory on February 11, 2008

A yeasted cake spiced with cinnamon and rose water
The theme of this blog is to recreate recipes from antique cookbooks which can be a way to have a glimpse of times past. Many of these old cookbooks were written by women who had very interesting lives, and who accomplished a lot in their time.
As Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations mentioned, one of this women, Lydia M. Child was born on February 11, 1802. I baked this cake from Lydia’s cookbook The American Frugal Housewife.
Lydia M. Child was a remarkable woman in many ways, who accomplished amazing things both in the personal and in the social sphere—and her life almost reads as a novel.
She was a member of the Transcendentalist movement—and like many of her generation —she was a passionate social reformer.
She raised a family, worked as a teacher and a journalist, wrote essays and novels devoted to the social causes of her time: she was an abolitionist, as well as an activist for women’s rights and Native Americans’ rights.
Her life has been recently portrayed in a documentary .
From the original recipe by Lydia Maria Child
In: “The American Frugal Housewife”, 1833—USA
2 lb bread flour
1/4 oz. (7 g) active dry yeast
1/2 lb sugar
1/4 lb. butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup water (or as needed)
1/2 oz. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp rose water or lemon extract (or to taste)
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 yolk to decorate
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside. Cream the butter with the sugar, add the eggs and the flavoring (rose or lemon) and mix well. Sift the flour with the cinnamon and the salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter-egg mixture, then pour in the yeast water and the remaining water, kneading on low speed to make a soft, smooth dough. You might need more water than indicated.
Let the dough rise in a buttered bowl, covered, until doubled.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Shape the dough in a free form loaf or place it into a removable bottom round cake pan, 8-inches in diameter, generously buttered on the bottom and sides. Brush the top of the cake with yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water and make a diamond pattern lightly scoring the top with a sharp knife.
Let it rise, covered, until light. Bake for about 40 minutes and let cool on a rack.

11 Responses to “Lydia M. Child’s Loaf Cake”

  1. Aparna said

    I like this idea of a loaf thats sort of cakelike. looks real good too.

  2. bakinghistory said

    @ Aparna: Hi! It is bread-like and just lightly sweet, and the cinnamon and rose water flavor it really nicely.

  3. Louise said

    Oh Manuela, It’s just as I imagined! Such a glorious tribute to a remarkable woman. Wonderful!

  4. Simona said

    Your cake gave me a jolt: it looks like the pizza di Pasqua I ate as a child, which is not a pizza, but a tall cake, is only vaguely sweet and it is a tradition of only a small area, where my parents grew up. I wish I had photos to show you how similar they are. Great post, as usual.

  5. bakinghistory said

    @ Louise: yes, it turned out really good, the recipe is just perfect.

    @ Simona: Grazie! I never had Pizza di Pasqua, but when I shaped this cake I just envisioned it should look like this–I did not realize it was the shape of a traditional Pizza di Pasqua…

  6. I have a reproduction of Lydia Child’s book and it is wonderful to see a recipe like this reproduced. I can just imagine how wonderful the scent of cinnamon and rosewater must be in this loaf cake!

  7. bakinghistory said

    @ T.W. Thanks! In fact the scent of spices pervaded the entire house while it was baking

  8. Great cake, and thanks for the opportunity to learn about this extraordinary woman.

  9. bakinghistory said

    Hi Susan, thanks!

  10. sciopina said

    Questo e’ grandioso nella sua semplicita’!proprio come piacciono a me dolci soffici e ben lievitati. Vorrei farlo per la colazione…gnam
    A presto

  11. bakinghistory said

    Ciao Sciopina, thanks for stopping by!

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