Sunday 19 June 2011

Dom's Challenge, Vintage Recipes, and Why Foolproof is always good.

'Frangipani' page 90, that's where I opened up 'Round the World in Eighty Dishes:The World Through the Kitchen Window. 

Published in 1956 and written for: “Armchair travelers and young enthusiasts," it could just as easily have opened at The Zombie’s Secret, from Haiti p179 (I think I'll save that one for Halloween) or Bandit's Joy, from Albania, p104.

I should explain, as part of Dom of the Belleau Kitchen’s ongoing challengeI’m randomly opening my most recently acquired cookery book, and then making the recipe on that page…no cheating.

I was compelled to get a copy after seeing author Lesley Blanch’s
103rd birthday picture. Be-caftaned, draped with beads and bracelets, white hair covered with an enormous turba; she apparently lived a most exotically bohemian life. But that’s another story.

I had a friend coming for coffee so thankfully Frangipani is a Sicilian sweet that once set can be cut up and served in a similar way to Turkish Delight. It sounded a little more inviting than: "would you like to come round for Bandit's Joy or The Zombie's Secret?"   Maybe less fun though. 

I’m sure that my new vintage cookery book is pretty much out of copyright so here’s the recipe:


NB for Vegan/lactose/gluten free,substitute with plant based/gluten free alternatives.(I'm always happy to suggest possible substitutes, just leave leave a message in the comments if you need any help. dx)



3 eggs

3 tablespoons of flour 

3 cups of milk

5 tablespoons of caster sugar

5 tablespoons ground almonds


Beat 3 eggs together, add 3 tablespoons flour, mixed in a little cold milk, and stir carefully into the eggs. Add 2 cups of milk, and heat in the double boiler,stirring all the time. Cook it slowly for 15 minutes. During this time add, bit by bit, 5 tablespoons fine powdered sugar, and the same amount of ground almonds. When the whole thing is a thick smooth mixture, remove and pour it into a flat baking dish. Let it get quite cold, and then cut into small squares like Turkish Delight.

I’m not sure if proof reading was what it is today in 1956 but the recipe seems to have a number of errors in it. So I basically just mixed everything together and then patiently stirred it in a double boiler over the hob for 15 minutes.
So far, so good, I presumed that once cooled it should set to the correct consistency.

But it didn't...

Thankfully there was time to whip up a quick chocolate cake using this foolproof recipe:

Foolproof Maderia


8oz Plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 large eggs

5oz soft butter or margarine

5 oz caster sugar

5 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1tsp good vanilla extract

A little made espresso or instant coffee

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/Gas Mark 4. Prepare a six-inch cake tin by rubbing oil onto the base and sides, then coating with a dusting of flour. Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and then fold in the dry ingredients. Add the milk until you have a dropping consistency.

Place the mixture in the tin and bake. The original recipe suggest you leave this for an hour before checking but I always check half way through as I have a fan oven which gets really hot. I check with a skewer to make sure it's cooked through.

When ready remove and leave to cool on a wire wrack.

Then decorate as required. Chocolate ganache is great with cream or chocolate spread filling. The sides can be coated with either and then covered with flaked you wish.

I cut the cake into three slices. I used a thick layer of good strawberry jam to sandwich the bottom two together. I like Bonne Maman, but home made would have been even better. As strawberries are in season I whipped double cream, sweetened with a little icing sugar and added a dash of vanilla extract for the top one and then layered with thin strawberry slices, finally topping the cake with a dusting of icing sugar.

My felt-making friend loved the chocolate cake, and was really sweet about the frangipani. She tried some even though it was sloppy and not at all like Turkish Delight, even complimenting the nice almondy flavour.

I don't think I've really cheated I did try out the recipe but the foolproof chocolate cake just came out much better...


  1. Blimey what a palava! I do love the sound of that recipe book though. I love really oldbooks like that where even the writing sounds odd! And good on you for making something else. If at first.. Thanks for taking part x

  2. I know Dom! No such thing as 'simple suppers' '30 minute meals' or 'express' cooking back then! But an interesting read...

  3. Ha ha - you didn't cheat at all - you had to go to the effort of making two things. Well done for giving it a try.
    Fascinating looking book (and woman!).

  4. aw, great effort though! love the vintage book! that's really inspiring (:

  5. The faliures make the sucesses so much better!!!!

    wonderful book.