This recipe starts with a teacup for measuring. And, as much as I tend to tinker with these old-fashioned cakes, I left this part of the recipe just the way it was wrote! So, yes, you’ll need a teacup. Through the course of testing, it turns out that it doesn’t really matter which teacup you select (unless it’s weirdly gigantic or super small). So the lesson learned is that baking isn’t necessarily the strict science it’s made out to be. And going old school is way more fun, am I right?
Choose your weapon. Come on! You can do this thing!
Pick your favorite china sweetie and crack an egg into it. Add sugar to the top. Throw it into a bowl, stir it with a fork, add a heap of sour cream, a little flour and a couple of fixins’ and you’ll be baking a moist and super luscious sour cream blueberry muffin treat for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Did I mention picnic, brunch or potluck? Either way, it’s made in America vintage style!
After I tried the recipe the first time, I thought about adding fresh fruit to the recipe but I wasn’t sure. So I went exploring (but only over to my sister’s house in the Hollywood Hills). 🙂 And this is what she served with her brunch — fresh blueberries and fresh strawberries in a charming little cup. What a nice teacup treat.
Later in the week, I found myself starting the day with a newspaper and a little strawberry yogurt topped with a good sprinkle of plump blueberries. And it got me thinking…
Then I went to the downtown farmer’s market for some board room snacks for the office. I was certain the blueberry message was coming through loud and clear when I found these lovely morsels. I decided that these little blue darlins’ would make the perfect fresh punch for this simple little recipe.
Recipe Historiography: (I know, weird word, but I think I like it.) This is not my own mother’s recipe, though I know she’d love it (I love you, Mom!). This recipe comes from a book whose cover and title page became lost over the many years that my great-grandmother and grandmother used it (to the BONE). So I had no idea what the name of my book was. With a little research, I found the same recipe — but it was not in my same book. Turns out, this recipe pops up in a number of different old cook books before and after the turn-of-the-Century. Like in “The Household (of The Detroit Press)” edited by May Perrin Goff” and published in 1881.
And then I finally found my grandparents’ book. It was re-published by Frank M. Lupton in 1890 in his incredible book with a very long title: “The Universal Household Cyclopaedia, a Volume of Ready Reference…Including Decoration, Household Management, Domestic Affairs, Cookery, Ladies’ Fancy Work, Medical Matters, Floriculture, Etiquette, Home Amusements, The Nursery, Artistic Embroidery, Decorative Painting, Lace Making…The Laundry, Etc.” (emphasis on et cetera).
Francis Moore Lupton (1854-1910) published an amazing series of encyclopedias containing a veritable world of information about farm and household crafts from at least 1881, including his 1888, “The National Farmer’s and Housekeeper’s Cyclopaedia” that explains: how to build a fence, train a vicious horse, make homemade fertilizer, build a chicken coop, stack hay, graft a tree, and how to make some lovely cakes and jams, including this recipe on page 341. My great-grandfather, John Halverson, read it from cover to cover.
I tried to find out a little more about the publisher when I stumbled on a New York Times article published on October 7, 1910.
The article starts off: “Frank M. Lupton, head of a big publishing house at 23 City Hall Place, Manhattan, was found dead in a bathroom of his home, one of the finest in Brooklyn, at 839 St. Mark’s Avenue, yesterday morning, with his throat cut. Beside him lay an opened penknife. The police put the case down as one of suicide.”
So, hats off and over our hearts for Mr. Lupton who passed in dramatic fashion at the young age of 57. He brought a great deal of learning to the farmers and to the ranch women of America. He made his hometown of Mattituck proud by building them an awesome library with his publishing fortune. He even taught the fancy ladies a thing or two about domestic work and entertained everyone with his inexpensive mail-order re-prints of famous novels.
Bring on the simple baking! You’ll need to grab a: teacup, a big bowl, a fork and a spoon and lay these puppies out in some muffin pans for a nice little homemade treat.
Slight Recipe Variation: I removed a lot of the fresh nutmeg (because a half of a fresh nutmeg is way too spicy) and I zing’d it up with some fresh lemon zest and a load of blueberries. Otherwise, it’s the same nice and simple one-bowl cake recipe.
I made different sized muffins — medium and small, 12 of each baked at the same time from the same batch of batter by filling the cups half full – instead of the normal 2/3 full.
The mini muffins are what my office peeps call “poppers” because they are just about a mouthful and disappear in a pop. I think the mix of small and large look cute for presentation (and those watching their weight can suck in their wasp-waist girdles and enjoy right along with the rest of us).
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 and prepare one regular 12-muffin pan and one mini 12- muffin pan with butter and flour, cooking spray and flour or paper liners. Here are the 2 sizes of paper liners that I used (medium and small liners). When you bake with old baking pans like I do, these paper liners come in handy.
2. Grate a pinch of fresh nutmeg into a large bowl with some fresh lemon zest. (Notice I’m not giving you exact measurements — another first!) 🙂
3. Crack a large egg into your favorite vintage teacup. (This is the star event!)
4. Pour granulated sugar over the egg until the tea cup is filled. Remember, I tried it with lots of different teacups and all the batches came out great — so live dangerously and use a teacup!
5. Gather one cup of (full-fat) sour cream. There’s no butter or oil in this recipe so a little fat here does the trick.
6. Beat the teacup mixture with a fork in a large bowl until light and creamy, then mix in the sour cream.
7. Add enough flour “to make a stiff batter”. haha!
Okay, I’ll make an exception and clarify: Add 2 cups of flour (I used whole wheat), 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir with a fork until thoroughly mixed.
8. Fold 2 cups of fresh blueberries gently into the batter. That’s a lot of blueberries but I think you’ll love them!
Tip: Fresh fruit sometimes sinks to the bottom when baked so I suggest you powder them lightly with a little flour before stirring them gently into the batter. You can use a strainer to remove the extra dredging flour.
9. Scoop the batter into a medium-sized muffin tin and a mini-sized muffin tin, filling them half full. What did I tell you? My muffin tins are OLD!
10. Bake “in a moderate oven” (we’ll call that 350 degrees) for about 20 to 25 minutes until they are lightly golden and a toothpick test shows clean. Keep your eye on the mini muffins because you might have to remove them a few minutes earlier.
Here’s the two different sized cakes, okay muffins, hot from the oven. I love it when the blueberries burst and spill out over the edge of the muffin. 🙂
Sparkle option: This sugar dusting ratchets up the dazzle of these little cakes with just a tiny touch of extra sweetness. Sanding sugar looks like little crystals and it doesn’t melt into the cake.
When hot from the oven, spray (or sprinkle) the top of one muffin lightly with water and sprinkle it with a little sanding sugar. Repeat for each muffin. If you don’t have sanding sugar, try a tiny bit of regular sugar.
I hope you’ll find these little cakes sweet and moist with flavor enough to reactivate kitchen crafting history and wow your friends and family.
And now that you’ve got your tea cups out, you may as well go ahead and pour some hot tea and ask a friend over. You’ll definitely have something good to serve with your conversation.
I hope you’re hanging with us on Pinterest (so much inspiration from everyone!). Shoot me a photo of your favorite vintage tea cup and I’ll post it.
Happy vintage baking!
You may also enjoy reading:
Miss Leslie’s Boston Cake (bakethiscake.com)
Roasted Pumpkin Bread (bakethisbread.com)
Applejack Sour Cream Spice Cake (bakethiscake.com)
Sour Cream Pound Cake (bakethiscake.com)
Love it! I shall have our “Odell baker” give it a whirl! Thank you.
My mother and I are on our iPads both reading your fascinating post. We love the teacup cake idea and were both intrigued with Mr. Lupton’s publications. We are looking forward to trying this fun recipe.
Thank u Cathy & to your mum! I’m so happy you’re both exploring the teacup cakes. 🙂