Ada Bixby was my husband's "Grandaunt" on his mother's side. Many of the recipes I'll be translating will be in her post-Victorian hand. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I'm sure the rest of the Bixby clan will fill in some of the blanks for us here. There seems to be no lack of stories about dear 'ol Aunt Ada! Thanks to Loren Tripp for the scan!
Beat 4 eggs together very lightly – both yolks and white – Beat in two (2) cups white granulated sugar – 1 cup of sifted flour a little at a time.
Then add another cup of flour in which add two teaspoonsful of baking powder well mixed in flour. Lastly one cup (small tea cup) of hot water almost boiling. Do not put it all in at the same time. Flavor with lemon. Bake in shallow tin in moderate oven.
Date: early-mid 20th century
By: Ada Bixby “Maiden Queen” of
Location: Francestown, NH”
Eggs were smaller at the time this recipe was written, so reduce amount of eggs from 4 to 3.
Flour would have probably been unbleached. Modern flour also has anti-caking ingredient, so for authenticity, use a unbleached organic flour.
A small tea cup of the period holds approximately 6oz of liquid, or ¾ cup.
Baking Powder typically did not used to include cream of tartar, but other dry acids that made them “double acting.” Most modern commercial baking powders are double acting.
A “moderate oven” would be about 350 degrees by today's standards.
Athough Ada did not specify that she greased the pan, I would fall on the safe side of this and grease the pan lightly with unsalted butter and maybe flour, too.
"Ada Bixby’s Sponge Cake"
3 large eggs
2 cups white granulated sugar.
2 cups organic, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ hot water (not boiling)
Fresh lemon juice to taste.
Preheat oven to 350.
Beat eggs lightly in a bowl. Beat in sugar slowly. Sift in 1 cup of the flour into the egg and sugar mixture a little at time. Add the other cup of flour and baking powder. Mix well. Slowly add in the ¾ cup of the hot water while mixing. Add about 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Spoon batter into (lightly buttered) pan. Bake in middle of the oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and/or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes.
FINAL NOTE: I have not tested this yet myself. If you do, and you have suggestions on how the recipe should be adapted. Let me know! And send photos!