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Treasured Old Timey Sweet Recipes from my Grandma's Past

Updated on October 24, 2016

Well worn spattered pages of recipes inside journal.

Two of the spattered pages in this journal used for recipes
Two of the spattered pages in this journal used for recipes | Source

A discovery!

My mother ( had she still been alive ) would have loved the research that has gone into this hub when discoverying these old timey sweet recipes from the past. That is because she truly enjoyed her desserts. She certainly baked enough of them for our family of five!

Not only did she bake cookies, cakes and pies but all the while we lived in Wisconsin she also made homemade breads. We were definitely spoiled! I had just turned 13 years of age when we moved to Texas and prior to that had never eaten store bought bread!

Upon going through some of her things recently I discovered a box of recipes. Some of them were simply old yellowed newspaper clippings with a variety of what must have sounded like tempting recipes to try. Others were scraps of paper with hand-written recipes.

Picture of old well worn journal

Well worn journal of my grandmother's with hand written recipes inside
Well worn journal of my grandmother's with hand written recipes inside | Source
Candid photo of my grandmother taken many years ago.
Candid photo of my grandmother taken many years ago. | Source

Old Journal

An old journal caught my attention and I was delighted to find that it had belonged to my maternal grandmother.

It had obviously been well used and is in fragile condition with some of the cover crumbling away.

A few of the pages are loose and every recipe in this book is hand written, mostly in my grandmother's penmanship.

Many of the recipes are attributed to the people who would have shared them with her. Her mother is listed as the author of several as well as her sister, some aunts and some friends of theirs.

My great-grandmother died when my grandmother was a young child. Therefore these recipes from her mother were undoubtedly cherished. At the convent school where my grandmother and her sisters were schooled, cooking would have been included in what they had been taught. But these recipes from her dear mother provided a personal culinary link to her past.

Some recipes are crossed out and obviously when tested, were not to her liking.

My grandmother was an excellent cook and baker which were only some of her many wonderful attributes. She was like a second mother to me when I was growing up.

This old journal was obviously used in the kitchen often when she was cooking and baking because some of the pages are heavily marked up with years of accidental food spatter.

As a matter of fact, it is fairly easy to determine which of the many recipes were the favorites judging by just how marked up the pages had become!


Deciding to try some of the recipes in my grandmother's journal made for some happy neighbors of ours.

My husband and I are not huge sweet eaters, but know people who savor desserts.

As already stated, if my mother was still here, more of what was baked would have stayed in our home and not been given away.

She would have been very happy to have been a part of this "test panel" in not only rating these recipes...but consuming them as well.

In reading many of these recipes, only the ingredients were noted.

Obviously it was taken for granted that no other instructions would be needed to complete the recipe. Cooks back then would have known how to proceed.

Measurements are also hard to decipher as packaging has changed greatly over the years and some ingredients could not be located.

So for many of the recipes in this old journal, they will be read for entertainment purposes only and will probably never again be enjoyed.

We did taste the results of the ones that I could decipher, and if you are curious to see what was entered so many years ago into this journal...let's begin with some of the selected and sampled recipes.

Cake photo

Piece of Soft as Silk Cake
Piece of Soft as Silk Cake | Source

Soft as Silk Cake

A notation was made that this recipe originated from listening to the radio. Television was a rather new thing when I was a youngster and this book obviously predated that.


2 cups flour

4 eggs

2 Tablespoons Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup milk

1 Tablespoons melted butter

2 ounces chocolate melted


Sift flour with Baking Powder. Beat eggs until very light. Beat in the salt, sugar and vanilla. Heat milk with butter, when scalding hot beat into egg mixture. Beat in flour and Baking Powder. Pour 1/3 of batter in well greased 8 inch pan. Blend melted chocolate into remaining 2/3 batter. Put into pan and bake in 350 degree's oven about 25 to 30 minutes. ( Work fast with cake. )

My impressions...very light and airy chocolate cake. The name does it justice. Check with a toothpick to make sure the cake is done. It took a little longer than the time stated in this recipe with our oven.

Hand written recipe on spattered page

Date Bread recipe
Date Bread recipe | Source

Date bread

Date bread in small loaf pans instead of "fruit cans"
Date bread in small loaf pans instead of "fruit cans" | Source
Slice of Date Bread
Slice of Date Bread | Source

Date Bread from Mrs. Kraase

What drew my attention to this page was the notation at the bottom of the page stating that it "Takes 5 fruit cans to bake this amount." Oh the good old days! Naturally I would not have known what size...nor do I ordinarily bake in fruit I used my mini-loaf pans to make this date nut bread recipe.

In case you cannot read the handwriting on this spattered page above, here are the ingredients and directions:

1 cup sugar, 1 cup dates, 2 heaping Tablespoons shortening. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over this and let stand until cooled.

Then add 1 beaten egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Sift 2 1/4 cups flour together with 1 rounded teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt adding to liquid mixture.

Stir in 1 cup of chopped nuts.

Bake about 1 hour in a moderate oven. I took this to mean a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven which seemed to work well. Start checking the bread after about 45 to 50 minutes to see if it is completely baked. This could be made into a larger loaf as well.

This recipe passed muster with us and I now have several small loaves frozen which will be used when we have the right occasion to give a little gift or have some company that might wish to enjoy some slices with some fresh made coffee.

Crumb Cake

Photo of my Great Aunt Lona
Photo of my Great Aunt Lona | Source
Crumb Cake
Crumb Cake | Source
A scrumptious slice of crumb cake
A scrumptious slice of crumb cake | Source

Crumb Cake

This recipe is by my Great Aunt of my grandmother's sisters.


1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cups flour

1/2 cup lard (lard was more commonly used back then...shortening can be substituted)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves


Mix the above ingredients "like pie-crust" and take out 1 cup of mixture reserving it for the topping.

Add 1 egg

1 cup of buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

and 1 teaspoon salt.

Beat well. Put in greased tin and sprinkle with the 1 cup of topping. Add dates and nuts if desired. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until done.

Note...I added about 1 cup of chopped pecans and the baking time took a little longer in our oven. This reminded my husband and myself of some coffee cakes we have had in the past. So a little more of this stayed in the house instead of all being passed out to the neighbors.

Oh the research and sacrifices that were done for this hub! (Smile)

Crunchy chocolate cookies

Crunchy Chocolate Cookies
Crunchy Chocolate Cookies | Source
Group of vacationing friends in McAllen.  My grandmother is the 2nd from the right.
Group of vacationing friends in McAllen. My grandmother is the 2nd from the right. | Source

Crunchy Chocolate Cookies by Mrs. Rathmann

This particular recipe was hand written on a slip of paper by Mrs. Rathmann and was dated March 19, 1959, McAllen. My grandparents vacationed in McAllen, Texas and had a large group of friends that did the same each year at the same prearranged time in the Winter. They had regular reservations at the Royal Palms Motel.

At the time my grandparents lived in Wisconsin, and the Rathmanns resided in Minnesota for the balance of the year. Fond friendships were formed and many of them ended up moving down to McAllen permanently. I am guessing that Mrs. Rathmann is in this picture to the right.

Ingredients and Directions

Melt over hot water ( not boiling ) one 12-ounce package of chocolate bits; one 6-ounce package of cherry bits and one 6-ounce package of butterscotch or caramel bits. When thoroughly melted, add one 6-ounce can of Chow Mein noodles. Coat thoroughly. Turn off fire and drop by teaspoon onto wax paper. Stir often while dropping them. Let harden.

Note...we could not find cherry bits and simply used the chocolate and butterscotch. One could also use other combinations of bits like peanut butter and chocolate.

This reminded us more of tasting a crunchy candy bar than eating a cookie. It is rich! Crunchy candy bar lovers will like this! Our neighbors were once again made very happy with the gift of this completed recipe.

Cherry Torte

Cherry Torte
Cherry Torte | Source
Standing left to right...Alma, my grandmother and others gathered for a birthday party celebration.
Standing left to right...Alma, my grandmother and others gathered for a birthday party celebration. | Source

Cherry Torte by Alma

Alma (standing on the left in the picture) was my great grandparent's daughter. My great grandmother is seated on the right. My grandmother is standing next to Alma, the author of this mouth watering recipe.

Ingredients for the torte

1 can cherries drained until dry, or press dry with a large spoon (save juice) Note: I used two 14 1/2 ounce cans (411 grams)...weight of cherries, 11 ounces each can...of pitted red tart cherries to get the correct amount for this recipe.

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup chopped nuts ( I used pecans )

1 beaten egg

2 cups of the drained cherries

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon


Sift the dry ingredients together and then add the nuts, egg, butter and cherries. Stir together well and pour into a buttered 8 inch by 11 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. The directions did not say how long to bake this but this timing worked out well for me. Hint: When a cake or baked bread starts pulling away from the side of the pan, this is an indication that the baked goods are getting close to being done.

Ingredients and directions for the topping

Combine the reserved cherry juice in a pan with the following ingredients:

1 level tablespoon corn starch

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter

Boil the ingredients until thickened and pour over cake. This makes a nice cherry colored glaze.

Suggestion: Serve with whipped cream.

Endleaves in journal (book)

Beautiful Endleaves in this old journal of my grandmother's
Beautiful Endleaves in this old journal of my grandmother's | Source

Hope that you liked these 5 old timey sweet recipes from the past gathered from my grandmother's old well worn journal. If you decide to try them, let me know which ones you liked best. Thanks!

Back to the journal...

This numbered 236 page journal could have been utilized for a number of things. My grandparents kept logs of their vacation trips writing notes in smaller booklets and often jotting down notations onto the back of postcards of places where they stayed.

It was obviously decided to make this blank paged beautifully bound journal into a cookbook of tried and true recipes gathered from relatives and friends. I am so happy to have come across this treasure.

While the overall condition of the journal is not in the best condition, the Endleaves are particularly beautiful. After all of these pictures of family members and the desserts that they shared with my grandmother (and tried and tested by me these many years later) I decided to show you the dazzling colors of this journal's marblized endleaves as a final photo.

Which of these old timey sweet recipes from the past do you think that you might wish to try making?

See results

Kindly rate this hub. Thanks!

5 stars from 8 ratings of Treasured Old Timey Sweet Recipes

Climbing rose

My maternal grandfather always loved his roses.  This photo is in memory of him and comes from a plant in our backyard.
My maternal grandfather always loved his roses. This photo is in memory of him and comes from a plant in our backyard. | Source

© 2010 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 23 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      Ever since trying the cherry torte for the first time, it has been made several times more when we have had people invited over to our home. Everyone seems to really like it! This does make for a great remembrance of my grandmother along with some of her favorite recipes. Hope you are also enjoying your weekend. I baked some molasses sugar cookies today for my hubby and some of the neighbors. :)

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 23 months ago from North Texas

      I think you are so lucky to have your grandmother's recipe book! Such a great way to remember your grandma. Several of these recipes look scrumptious! I like the cherry torte for starters. Can't believe this is another article I haven't seen before!

      Pinning this to Awesome HubPages, also to my 'Fabulous Deserts' board, and sharing with followers.

      Hope all is well with you and that you're enjoying a cool restful weekend!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi peachpurple,

      Usually I only do baking for gift giving at Christmas or when we have company at our home with rare exceptions. I do make bran muffins quite often for my hubby and me. I vary them by sometimes putting in different ingredients like mashed banana; raisins or sometimes dried cranberry bits.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      its a good thing that she passed on the baking talent to you

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Hyphenbird,

      Glad you liked these memories, the old journal plus the heirloom recipes. Appreciate your comment.

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