As much as I enjoy combing through vintage cook books, I am modern enough to also like lurking on food blogs. Many of these break recipes down into steps, illustrating each with explanatory photographs. I thought this was a response to cooks who are maybe learning their way around the kitchen as adults, rather than as someone’s child apprentice.
I was surprised, then, to find Royal Baking Powder’s 1927 Anyone Can Cook at a recent estate sale in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. The book breaks down recipes in much the same manner as modern food blogs.
Unsurprisingly, Anyone Can Cook pushes Royal’s products, including Cream of Tartar. Cream of Tartar is one component of baking powder. Baking powder has an interesting history. Double-acting baking powder — a staple of all kitchens where anything more than slice-and-bake cookies are happening — was developed and marketed commercially at the end of the 19th century. Why Royal felt the need to bang the drum for Cream of Tartar’s healthfulness in 1927 is a mystery.
If spattered pages and lumps of long-dried cake batter are any indication, my copy of Anyone Can Cook was well-loved. I’m planning to start with the Chocolate Caramel Cake or maybe Crumpets. The stained pages on which those recipes appear are like a commercial from the past: Bake! Me!
April 17, 2015