For this months Cinema and Canape I am going to just do a quick recap of the movie and then talk about the recipe. I am running out of time for all the things I want to post. We will see if I can keep it short….
I love watching Christmas movies and specials and try to watch as many as I can. I had a hard time picking one because I love so many. I finally settled on Christmas in Connecticut from 1945. It stars the amazing Barbara Stanwyck as Elizabeth Lane,
Dennis Morgan as Jefferson Jones
Sydney Greenstreet as Alexander Yardley
Reginald Gardiner as John Sloan
and S.Z. Sakall as Felix Bassenak
So now that you know the cast of characters. The basic plot is that Barbara Stanwyck plays a very popular food and lifestyle writer for a women’s magazine. The hitch is that she really can’t cook and lives in a small New York apartment versus living in a quaint New England farmhouse with a husband and new baby. The only people who is in on the ruse is her boyfriend John Sloan and restaurateur Felix Bassenak, who provides her with the recipes.
Dennis Morgan plays a solider, Jefferson Jones, who is healing in a military hospital. Stanwyck’s character Elizabeth Lane’s column has kept him going through the war. A nurse at the hospital arranges to have him meet Miss Lane and have a traditional Christmas with her. Obviously Elizabath Lane has to fake it with the help of her two cohorts. Sloan provides the Connecticut farm and family while Bassenak secretly cooks for her. A wrench is thrown in the plan when Lane’s pushy boss Alexandar Yardley invites himself to the whole shindig. Hijinks happens while Stanwyck’s Lane and Morgan’s Jones fall in love. Oh and Barbara Stanwyck wears some beautiful costumes against a very idyllic Christmas background.
The movie came out in 1945. Luck would have it as I have a December issue of McCall’s magazine from that same year. I flipped through the pages and landed on a easy cake in a Swan’s Flour ad that also featured Kate Smith. It is called Holiday “Mix-Easy” Cake but I refer to it as Fruitcake Lite as it is chock full of candy fruit and nuts. Even though by December 1945, World War II had ended, the country was still in ration mode with certain items. This recipe therefore has two sets of instructions depending on how much sugar one had. This does not mean the cake isn’t sweet. They just substituted another sweetener source for the rest of the sugar in this case using corn syrup.
Holiday Mix-Easy Cake
An easy fruit cake straight from 1945.
- 1/2 cup butter or shortening, softened and at room tempature
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/3 cup corn syrup (see notes if you want to use all sugar)
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 cup chopped candied cherries
- 2 tablespoon chopped candied orange peel
- 2 tablespoon chopped candied lemon peel
- 1 cup chop nuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease well a loaf pan.
- Add butter to bowl then sift in the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add the milk and almond extract and beat with a hand mixer (or stand mixer) for one minute. Set aside.
- In a seperate bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy and white. Then gradually add 1/4 cup of sugar, beating till the meringue forms soft peaks. Add the meringue to the flour mixture and beat for 2 minutes.
- Fold in the fruit and nuts.
- Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a cake tester and it comes out clean.
- Let stand over night and then slice.
Notes: If you want to omit the corn syrup: sift 2/3 cup sugar with the flour instead of 1/4 cup and increase the milk to 2/3 cup.