The Virginia Gazette

Nostalgic reader hungers for silver cake

Bill Daley
Contact ReporterThe Daley Question

Q: Greetings from a former Chicagoan. I grew up in Chicago in the '40s and '50s and I recall my mom buying a white pound cake with a silver or white frosting. The cake was prepackaged and sold in grocery stores and had a cellophane wrapper. It was approximately 10 inches long by 4 inches wide by 3 inches high. I can only remember the name "Silver" associated with the cake. I would love to be able to identify this cake item and find out if it is still available to be eaten in Chicagoland or elsewhere. I have exhausted all of my own ideas and all of my older relatives who might have helped me are dead.

--Allen S. Kominsky, Ormond Beach, Fla.

A: I, too, hit a dead end with this question. So, I'm turning it over to readers hoping someone may have a clue about what you're looking for, where to get it, or what might stand in as a good substitute.

In subsequent emails with Mr. Kominsky, I learned his mother did her grocery shopping at a Jewel store, where this cake must have been sold. He described it as white with silver frosting and wonders if the brand name was "Silvercup," which was the brand name for a popular bread baked in New York.

Mr. Kominsky, a retired attorney, added that he is "hungry for that cake to enjoy before I am called up to that Bar in the stars."

Let's try to help him find that cake! Send any info you have to me. My contact info is below.

In the meantime, I did some searching in the Chicago Tribune archive for a "Silver" cake because, well, I like the name -- it speaks to delicious good fortune.

A silver cake recipe starred as "Mary Meade's Cake of the Week" for March 15, 1949. Mary Meade was the pen name of then-food editor Ruth Ellen Church. As it was two days before St. Patrick's Day, the cake was adorned with a giant buttercream shamrock, tinted green. Church republished the cake recipe just two years later, saying it had become one of the food department's "most famous cakes."

I haven't made the recipe myself, but what do you have to lose? The lime filling seems particularly appropriate for Florida, I think. Instead of decorating the cake with a butter cream shamrock as originally called for, how about a butter cream palm tree?

Let me know how it goes and I'll let you know if I hear anything from readers about your question.

Silver cake

Makes: Two 8-inch layers

This recipe is based on one that ran in the Chicago Tribune's March 15, 1949, edition as "Mary Meade's Cake of the Week," and on a slightly reworded version published two years later on March 11, 1951. This cake has four stages: Making the cake, the lime filling, the 7-minute icing and the buttercream garnish. You can, of course, spread the work out over a day.

2 cups sifted cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon each: vanilla; almond extract

3 egg whites

1/4 cup sugar

Lime filling (see recipe below)

7-minute frosting (see recipe below)

Buttercream icing (see recipe below)

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cream butter thoroughly; add sugar gradually, creaming together until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients alternatively in thirds with milk and flavorings, beating after each addition. Now beat egg whites until stiff; gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar, continuing to blend until whites stand in peaks. Fold quickly but thoroughly into batter. Pour into two greased 8-inch pans lined with greased wax paper. Bake in 374-degree oven 20 to 25 minutes. Cool layers on rack. Put together with cooled lime filling and frost with seven minute icing. Make a shamrock (or palm tree or whatever) design on cake with green tinted buttercream icing.

Lime filling: Combine 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour and dash of salt in the top of a double boiler. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup lime juice and 1 well-beaten egg. Place over boiling water and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind and a drop or two of green food coloring. Cool.

7-minute frosting: Combine 2 egg whites, 5 tablespoons water and 1 1/2 teaspoon each light corn syrup and sugar in the top of a double boiler, beating with rotary egg beater or electric mixer until thoroughly mixed. Place over rapidly boiling water; beat constantly and cook about 7 minutes, or until the frosting stands in peaks. Remove from boiling water; add 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat until thick enough to spread. Cool.

Buttercream icing: Cream 2 tablespoons butter and work in alternately about 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice. Add a dash of salt, tint a delicate green with food coloring, and beat smooth. Apply design with a pastry tube.

Do you have a question about food or drink? Email Bill Daley at: Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.

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