28 Dec

The search for the Gold-N-Sno cake

The cake naming contest ad featuring the cake eventually called "Gold-N-Sno."

Yesterday I picked up a book at the library: Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America’s First Lady of Food. I haven’t read too much of it yet, but I did see the ad, pictured here, from 1933, for the Betty Crocker Cake Naming Contest. The contest promised a $5,000 in cash prizes to winners who suggested a name for the cake pictured: “a light, fluffy, orange-flavored cake, three full 9-inch layers, with creamy orange filling and covered with luscious white icing and moist shredded cocoanut (sic). The layer cake itself also contains cocoanut.”

This caught my eye. I love coconut. I love orange cake. I must make this cake. Maybe for New Year’s. According to the book, the winning name for the cake was… Gold-N-Sno. Times must have been more innocent then, because to me, golden snow means the yellow snow you had better not eat. But the cake looks good, so I’ll make it anyway.

Sometimes it seems that every recipe ever written down has found its way onto the Web somewhere, so I figured I’d find the Gold-N-Sno cake — maybe spelled a little differently — with a quick Google search. How wrong I was.

I found a few vintage newspapers with Gold-N-Sno mentions — invariably in ads for bakeries who made this cake. The cake seems to have been relatively well-known. Here are a couple from Oswego, New York, in 1934 and 1939, and one from Sewickley, Pennsylvania in 1940 (please click to see the complete images):

But no recipes. (There is a site, newspaperarchive.com, which charges a hefty sum to look at their archived newspapers. The Gold-N-Sno cake is mentioned pretty frequently in newspapers there from the 1930s, but I cannot tell if the recipe is lurking there without paying them. Most of the examples there did also seem to be ads, though.)

I tried changing the spelling to “Gold-N-Snow”. I found a few more ads, from Cass City, Michigan, 1941 and 1942, and Oswego again in 1934 and 1940 (once again, please click to see the full images):

Still, no recipes. I still thought the recipe must probably be online somewhere, but someone must have changed the name. So I looked more closely at the ad pictured in Finding Betty Crocker. Underneath the picture of the cake, I saw that Betty Crocker ever-so-helpfully labeled every part of the cake, and listed all the ingredients. Thank you, Betty!

With arrows pointing to the various parts of the cake, I read “Cocoanut Icing,” “Oranges” (these are orange pieces arranged decoratively around the base of the cake), “Three Layer Orange Cake,” “Cocoanut in Cake,” and “Creamy Orange Filling.”

The ingredient list “for Cake, Filling and Icing” is: “Shortening, sugar, eggs, flour, salt, baking powder, orange juice, orange rind, cocoanut, corn starch, lemon juice.”

With all the ingredients, I ought to be able to find the recipe online somewhere, yes? And sure enough, it wasn’t long before I stumbled on the “Prize Orange Coconut Cake.” This recipe is all over the various web recipe collections. It seems to come from a single source, one with quite a few typos. It is unclear what that source may be. The ingredients match the list in the ad exactly, with the exception of corn syrup in the frosting, as does the construction of the cake. I think this is probably the once popular Gold-N-Sno. Here it is, with typos fixed and some editing to make it easier to read (I hope):

(Note: since I posted this, I have actually made the cake. See here for comments. I’ve edited a couple of things in this post, now that I’ve tried the cake.)

Prize Orange Coconut Cake (possibly the 1933 Gold-N-Sno cake)

Total quantities of ingredients you need to have on hand, if I’ve counted correctly (I rounded up a couple of times):

  • 3/4 c shortening
  • 4 3/4 c sugar
  • Rind of two oranges
  • 6 eggs (you’ll be using the yolks and the whites separately, so don’t throw any away)
  • 3 1/2 c cake flour
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Slightly over a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 c orange juice
  • 1 c water
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 4 T corn starch
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 tsp corn syrup

Batter:

From the ingredients you’ve gathered for this recipe, take:

  • 3/4 c shortening (I used Crisco Butter Flavor)
  • 2 c sugar

Cream together, then add:

  • 1 1/2 tsp grated orange rind (preferably organic)
  • 2 egg yolks, well beaten

Blend together,then sift:

  • 3 1/4 c cake flour, sift once (I used Softasilk)
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add sifted ingredients to first mixture with:

  • 1/2 c orange juice
  • 3/4 c water

Beat enough to make batter smooth. Blend in:

  • 1/2 c moist, shredded coconut
  • 4 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks

Pour into three 9-inch cake pans, greased and floured.
Bake 30 minutes in moderate oven at 350 degrees F.
Cool completely on cooling rack before frosting.
Put the layers together with orange filling (see below) and cover with orange frosting (also below). Sprinkle with 3/4 cup moist shredded coconut.

Orange Filling:

  • 2 level T flour
  • 4 level T cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks, well beaten
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Mix until smooth in double boiler.
Add, slowly, the following, stirring constantly:

  • 1/2 c orange juice
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 1/4 c water

Then add:

  • 2 T butter
  • grated rind of 1 orange

Cook over water, stirring occasionally until thick, about 20 minutes. Cool. Spread between layers of cake. (Ours thickened a little more quickly than 20 minutes.) The result is sort of an orange curd; very orangey and good.

Orange Frosting:

(This is a variant on the 7-Minute Frosting boiled frosting recipe that can be found in many sources. You should wait until the cake is ready to frost before you make this, as it must be used immediately after cooking.)
IMPORTANT: When we made this, it did not make enough frosting to cover the whole cake. I recommend doubling this recipe. However, I have not yet tried it with the doubled amount so I can’t be sure the proportions wouldn’t need to be tweaked. So I’m leaving the original amount here for now.

  • 1 tsp light corn syrup
  • 7/8 c sugar
  • 1/4 tsp grated orange rind
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 T orange juice

Put in double boiler.
Beat constantly with rotary beater while cooking over boiling water 6-7 minutes.
Remove from heat and add:

  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • sprinkling of salt

Beat thoroughly for about 2 minutes until it’s a spreadable consistency, and then spread on cake immediately.

So. Is this the Gold-N-Sno cake from 1933? Anyone know? I think I will try it soon and see if I like it. I’d like to know if it’s the same cake, and if it’s good at all.

(Added later: Yes. It’s good. I think it is the same cake, too.)

Incidentally, while researching this, I found Kitty Wells’ Orange Coconut Cake, which is somewhat similar and apparently quite tasty.

One other thing — I noticed that a couple of those vintage bakery ads mentioned “malted milk” cakes. If there is any cake that sounds as good to me as orange-coconut, it is chocolate malted milk. Good God, I love chocolate malt flavor. That vintage recipe, at least, is easier to track down, and the results are apparently excellent. I can see I might have to make two cakes for New Year’s Eve.

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