Food that Really Schmecks - questions about ingredients

Keeping in mind I don't do a lot of baking (or a lot of recipes from the 1960s), but seeing as The Holidays are coming up and I'm on the whole Mennonite theme right now, I thought I would do some baking for the upcoming feasts. Only... some of the ingredients listed in this book (Food that Really Schmecks by Edna Staebler) confuse me. Could you help?

Cocoa - in the recipe Best Cocoa Cake. It says we should dissolve the cocoa in boiling water before adding to the mix. Are we talking unsweetened cocoa powder like I use for hot chocolate?

Soda - from the same recipe (and most of the other baking recipes). Baking soda?

Any problem substituting the shortening with lard (same recipe)? We don't do vegetable shortening in the house, but I can easily make lard. Anything I need to know about substituting one for the other?

Medium baking syrup - in Auntie's Dark Fruit Cake. Is this like corn syrup or golden syrup or something else entirely? Can I use honey and if so, any adjustment for texture or taste?

Thanks in advance. Will probably have more questions from this book as I get baking, I'll just stuff them in this thread instead of starting a new one each time.



trampledbygeese December 12, 2014
Made the cocoa cake today and WOW, it's fantastic. Halved the sweetener, used butter instead of shortening (had no lard), added extra cocoa, replaced half the milk with yoghurt, you know, my usual 'I don't have that, but maybe this will work' adjustments. It's rich, deep, dark, delicious. Almost savoury. Goes great with full bodied red wine.

I have an idea how to make it a bit brighter flavoured but still deep and rich - maybe all the milk with yoghurt, lard instead of butter, or mix butter and olive oil, stuff like that. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

The stewed cabbage with dried fruit recipe in the book also fantastic. I made a whole crock pot full and it was gobbled up in one sitting.

It's times like this I feel that libraries are real pests for wanting their books back. This one I'm going to have to buy my own copy of. Can't wait to try the fruit cake recipe(s).
Nancy December 12, 2014
Sorry, trampled, no, I don't think it's an error - strudel dough usually is made WITHOUT yeast. I'm stumped on the blisters. Maybe someone else knows.
trampledbygeese December 12, 2014
I guess I'll just have to try it and find out what 'blisters' look like in strudel dough... or how long it takes for my arms to fall off. Which ever comes first.
Nancy December 12, 2014
blisters in dough. haven't seen this usage before, but have seen bubbles in yeast dough left a while. Sometimes they don't pop and yes, could be said to look like blisters. The beating - to raise the blisters and eliminate them - is, I'm guessing, to reduce yeast action once you shape and bake this dough into something thin. Too much yeast left in the dough will undo all your hard work of stretching and rolling to make thin.
trampledbygeese December 12, 2014
That's an idea, and I can see how doing that at just the right stage would work.

However, no yeast in this dough. Just flour, salt, fat, eggs, and water. We knead together the ingredients, then beat our frustrations out on the dough. Perhaps an error in ingredients list?

It's the Apfelstrudel recipe p274
trampledbygeese December 12, 2014
Here's another one: after we knead the dough, we wack or beat it against a board until it blisters. I'm assuming it's megaly activating the gluten in the flour since it's going to be 'pulled till paper thin', but blisters? What does that look like?
Nancy December 12, 2014
Wow! Food that really Shmecks - a blast from the past.
agree cocoa is plain cocoa powder. soda is b soda. Could substitute lard for shortening. Also coconut butter if you can find some/like it. Medium baking syrup is probably referring to color, picking up from grades of maple syrup. But/and honey and/or golden syrup would be find substitutes.
Susan W. December 11, 2014
Okay, I found the recipe. I am going to H Mart (huge and cheap Asian store) to check out koji and vats. Going forward, I am going to ask any questions at the recipe. I'll watch for a club to be started. :)
Susan W. December 11, 2014
Yes on the cocoa. Just 100% cocoa. No other ingredients.

I would think soda means baking soda, but why does my memory say soda water has also been used. I will google. use golden syrup a lot. They say corn syrup also works. Honey would change the flavor, but not in a bad way.

I use leaf lard for baking. As in the specifically found around the kidneys and has no pork flavor. I don't think I would use my other pork lard that I use for savory cooking in a chocolate cake, but that may just be me.

Totally off topic, but I can't resist. I was at my local shi shi grocery store eyeballing the unpasteurized garbanzo miso made with hand crafted koji. It was $10.99. Geesh! I asked the dept manager if he'd tried it. He hadn't, so he took out his trusty sharpie and drew through the price code and let me try it free of charge. So cool! I love the stuff. I am going to have to make my own though. I am going to find that miso thread and write down all the info you posted and get to work.
trampledbygeese December 11, 2014
I knew you would come to the rescue Susan. Thank you. Can't wait to start baking, especially the fruit cake.

Glad to hear about the miso! Let me know how it tastes. That's very 'affordable' compared to chickpea miso here which starts at $12 and goes to $36 depending on the brand, age, &c. Did I tell you I put my secret recipe up on this site? It's my special-most successful version which I was going to keep a family secret, but no kids to pass it down to, so now it's here. I wonder if The Hotline would mind if we have a 'Miso Club' thread for people fermenting their own miso at home?
Susan W. December 11, 2014
Your miso recipe is HERE? Knocking over all the things to find it. Is it called Homemade Miso or did you give it a well deserved fancy title?
Susan W. December 11, 2014
I just looked at my container. It's organic, non gmo and soy free (of course). All things I care about. It's Miso Master brand made in North Carolina. I think it may be the brand that Sam1148 likes. I could eat it by the spoonful.

I saw your easy miso stir fry recipe. Going to make it. The one thing I have a hard time finding is authentic rice wine. Never thought to use sake.

Love the miso club idea. We may be the lone members, but that's okay.
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