Consider yourself a good baker? You should give these recipes a try.

The recipes below were taken from within our collection and Janet, our Cataloguing Librarian, and I thought we would try and experience the domestic lives of young women from the 1920s through replicating their recipes.  These particular desserts were taken from Girl’s Own Annual: 1921-1922 which was a series of publications from the Girl’s Own Paper and Women’s Magazine. This publication is a particularly interesting example as it encompassed a wider audience through having an inclusive age range that spans through to adulthood.  Domesticity was a common theme targeted at young girls in the early part of the 20th century and we thought we’d give baking a go and see what we could learn about the time period through participating.

Here are the recipes: (click to enlarge)

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These instructions proved difficult to a modern day audience as the lack of definite instruction and ambiguous terminology meant that following these steps was not as easy as it appeared to be. The absence of any images meant that we had to use our imaginations as to what the expected outcome was supposed to look like. As we are used to precise recipes and exact timings, it was not a surprise when things started to go wrong.

The rolling technique did not quite go to plan

For the Railway Pudding we did two batches and varied the temperatures. The rolling process proved to be the most difficult and we ended up with broken and misshaped desserts. Despite different attempts at the same recipe we were unable to achieve the desired outcome which we assumed was similar to a Swiss roll.

The boiling water, flour and lemon zest

The Zephyr Puffs, despite their unusual and exciting name, were rather bland as the addition of lemon zest did little to the overall taste. Both puddings tasted like pancake batter and were only made sweeter by piling lots of sugar on top as they were cooling down.

In the article ‘Meals as They Are’ from the same publication, the changing nature of meal times in society was discussed. The aftermath of the war had brought relaxations in social conventions and it became more common to choose simplicity over labour intensive cooking. This was exemplified through the choice to use a slice of fruit to add flavour rather than stirring up a sauce.  Using lemon as flavouring for the Zephyr Puffs showed that items that take less time to prepare were now more favourable. The nature of instruction and the taste of the outcome were both reflections on this new-found simple approach to food and mealtimes.

This is the product of two and a half hours of baking and deep frying! Why not give these a go for yourself and see if you can do any better?

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Danielle Joyce

Girl’s Own Annual: 1921-1922
Vol. 43
Edited by: Flora Klickmann
London: William Clowes & Sons Ltd