Saturday, July 2, 2011

Guest Post: Drum Cake

Hello, all! I'm Kelly, Wendy's big sister, fellow book addict, and fledgling semi-foodie.

At the farmer's market in my home town today, I stopped at the Friends of the Library booth. Two cookbooks caught my eye and I didn't even try to resist. Both Betty Crocker, both from the late 50s, both only $0.25. As I dug out my quarters, the volunteer running the booth told me cookbooks were three for $0.50, so I quickly selected a third...sadly not vintage Betty Crocker, but that's a blog for another time.

The first find was Betty Crocker's Book Book for Boys and Girls. It's hardcover, spiral bound, first edition from 1957. Frankly, it's falling apart, but it's still charming nonetheless. Along with the step-by-step directions (packed with General Mills product placements) and illustrations, there are comments from the home testers. Here's one:
"Baking is as much fun as my chemistry set. And you can eat what you mix up." Eric
Golly, boys cooking - how modern and forward thinking! And chemistry today's kids even know what those are?

The book starts off with cakes. The first few recipes are exactly that - directions on how to bake cakes from scratch. But farther into the book, the Extra Special party cakes are more about assembly and decorating than about baking...well, that and product placement. This one in particular jumped out at me:

Drum Cake
To celebrate the Fourth of July - make a cake for the family picnic and decorate it for the holiday.

Bake cake in layers as directed on Betty Crocker Chocolate Devils Food Cake Mix package.

Frost cooled cake with Betty Crocker Fluffy White Frosting Mix.

The photograph on the opposite page is of the Drum Cake.

On sides of cake press striped peppermint candy sticks at angles into icing all around cake. Set a maraschino cherry at end of each stick. If you like, cross two candy sticks on top of cake for drumsticks.
See? More of a cake decorating idea than a recipe. The illustrations truly are necessary here. Would we know the cake is supposed to look like a drum without the marching band in front of it? Perhaps the boys and girls of 1957 would.

I do love the marching band, though. It reminds me of the opening credits of The Music Man. If it weren't for that, I'd question associating a cake that looks (questionably) like a drum and the Fourth of July. But for me, the Fourth of July and The Music Man will be eternally linked. And who can argue with chocolate cake?

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