Welcome back! I am cooking every recipe in the 1929 Photoplay Cookbook and you are invented to join me. This week’s recipe is from a star who is most remembered for a sound era cameo.
You can catch up on all my taste tests here.
Anna Q. Nilsson played one of the “waxworks” in Sunset Boulevard but I encourage everyone to check out her silent era work, she was easily one of the most talented actresses to ever grace to screen.
Arguably America’s first Swedish-born superstar, Nilsson was a subtle performer whose career spanned every genre imaginable. She was a socialite-turned-social-worker in the gangster film Regeneration, a fearless Union undercover agent in The Confederate Ironclad and an abandoned frontier wife in The Toll Gate.
We love Anna on the screen but what do we think of her baked goods? Let’s find out!
At this point in history, eggs were still something of a luxury. They weren’t out of the price range of most people but they did cost enough to make bakers pause at using too many. According to a U.S. government report from 1924 eggs are listed with an average price of $0.44 a dozen (over $6 in today’s money). So a one-egg muffin recipe would definitely have an appeal.
As I always do with vintage recipes, I used full-fat everything. I have found that older recipes rely on the fats in dairy to stay moist and substituting low-fat or skim can be disastrous. I also used European-style butter, which has a higher fat content.
I found the instructions for this recipe to be a bit confusing. This recipe calls for so little butter that I simply could not see it working to “cream” it into the flour. I did a little research and found that most one egg muffin recipes from the period call for mixing the melted butter, egg and milk into the dry ingredients and I followed this method.
The batter is really more the consistency of drop biscuit dough: wet but definitely too thick to pour. I was concerned about density and the middles not getting done so I opted for small muffins. I put about two teaspoons into each muffin liner and ended up with a dozen. (I used Wilton Elegance Cupcake Liners. Aren’t they cute?)
Ten minutes was about right for the muffins an a 400 degree oven but do keep an eye on them. Any quick bread recipe is prone to a burned bottom.
Score: 3 out of 5. They’re cute little hybrids but not quite as tasty as buttermilk biscuits, scones or muffins. I think if the recipe went either a little sweeter (with some vanilla) or savory (with some cheese and chives) then it would be better. That being said, all my tasters wolfed these down, especially when I offered honey and apricot jam.
Here are some pictures. I have changed my setup for photgraphing finished recipes (the in-process photos are still snapped on my smartphone because I am not really set up to take proper photos and cook at the same time).
I molded my butter using mini silicone molds just to add an extra touch to my presentation. (I didn’t press firmly enough and thus had some air bubbles but I still think they look nice.)
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