Monday, August 22, 2011

retro recipe revamp: cinnamon scroll cake with fresh raspberry frosting

I'm so excited about this little project; I reckon I spent like, 47% of my time last week thinking about what to make next. That's a lot of time, when you're meant to be finishing a PhD. Unfortunately, all of the rest of the time I was thinking about my thesis; this didn't leave much room for anything else. Oh well. Sorry Martha Stewart.

I'll tell you what though, it was worth it. This week's retro recipe comes from one of my little McAlpin's Test Kitchen Recipe booklets, of which I have a couple. They're not dated, but the Mixmaster in the test kitchen picture is the same 1950s model that I have at home and judging from the ovens and stoves, I'd say we're looking at the mid 1950s. You want to see what this test kitchen looks like - trust me.

Dita Von Teese, eat your heart out! Oh, I guess she already did. I just love the set up here: not only can the audience see how to use McAlpin's flour to make all kinds of goodies, but they can marvel at the pristine white cooking-lab coats the demonstrators wear. This little booklet cost 1 florin (or 2 shillings) at the time, which is equivalent to around $2.90 today, according to the Reserve Bank's pre-decimal inflation calculator (!). I guess that makes these little treasures the equivalent of a modern budget cooking publication like Woolworth's goodtaste magazine ($3.95), only it's filled with around 175 recipes for baked goods. Which, of course, made it difficult to decide what to make. I was tempted (?) by the Wholemeal Savoury Tongue Squares, but decided in the end to go with what had caught my eye early on, the Cinnamon Scroll Cake with Pink Frosting. So on Saturday morning, I got to work.

This is basically a coffee cake, flavoured with cinnamon and coffee essence, with a gorgeous pink swirl running right through. The Test Kitchen tops this marvel off with a frosting flavoured with raspberry essence that is tinted pink. I realised this week - with ensuing shame - that I had never made a marble cake before, or indeed anything 'swirled' or 'marbled', so it was this that I was most excited about. I decided to go with the cake recipe mostly as it was originally written; I only swapped the coffee essence for some espresso powder and added a little more milk, because the batter seemed a little thick. The resulting was light and moist, with just a pretty whisper of cinnamon and coffee flavours. And yes, swirling pink batter through coffee-coloured batter with a knife was as exciting as I'd hoped it would be.

The real excitement in the end though, was the frosting. I kept an eye out this week for raspberry essence but the closest I came was Queen's Strawberry Essence. This is just didn't seem right. And actually, I realised, I wanted a bright and punchy raspberry flavour to liven up a relatively plain coffee cake. So, I used fresh raspberries in my frosting. And Quincy nodded in her small puffy way, the sun came out and the birds began to sing.

Another excellent retro recipe vamp experiment. I'd do this for a living, I reckon.


Cinnamon Scroll Cake with Fresh Raspberry Frosting
Cake recipe adapted from McAlpin's Test Kitchen Recipes (circa 1955) 
Frosting recipe adapted from

For cake:
230g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
200g caster sugar
115g butter, softened
2 eggs
7 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
a few drops of rose (or cochineal) food colouring
1 quantity of Fresh Raspberry Frosting (recipe below)

1. Heat oven to 180C. Prepare a 7 inch square cake tin by greasing and lining bottom with baking paper.

2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a medium bowl.

3. Add the espresso powder to 1 tbsp of the milk, mix to dissolve and set aside.

3. In the large bowl of your stand mixer, or a larger bowl, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Sift in the   dry ingredients, add 4 tbsp of milk, and mix at medium speed until well combined. Don't worry if your batter looks a little dry and lumpy at this point.

4. Add the eggs and 2 remaining tbsp of milk and mix to make a smooth batter.

5. Pour or spoon 1/4 of the batter into a medium bowl. To this smaller quantity, add a few drop of food colouring. Beat to incorporate. Pretty!

6. To the remaining mixture, add the dissolved espresso mixture and the cinnamon. Beat to combine.

7. Pour or spoon the cinnamon batter into your prepared cake tin. Add the pink batter to the top of this and with a butter knife, swirl the pink mixture through until it looks pleasantly marbled.

8. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes (or until a cake tester poked into the middle comes out clean; mine took 45.)

9. Sit on a cake rack to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove cake from tin. Allow to cool completely on rack before frosting.

For frosting:
3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
55g butter
1/4 - 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
a little milk to loosen, if needed

1. Heat raspberries in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon to break up. When the berries are no longer whole and look more like a coulis or sauce, strain to remove the seeds. Return the seedless liquid to the saucepan and look a little longer until reduced by nearly half. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

2. In the small bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand-held mixer, beat butter a little. Add 1 cup of icing sugar, 1/2 tsp lemon juice and raspberry puree. Beat until well combined, then add remaining icing sugar. If the mixture seems too stiff, add the extra lemon juice. Check again and if you still want it softer, add milk a teaspoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.

3. Put on your cooking-lab coat, and spread artfully onto your cake.


  1. I have seen raspberry essence in gourmet cake shop. But ya know, the fresh berries always have much better appeal! :D Great cake!

  2. Beautiful cake from a beautiful lady (SWISH!) :D This looks fabulous, and I am so very, very, very glad that there's something in your life (not-PhD-related) that is filling you with excitement and gives you something to look forward to. Hurrah for baking!

    P.S. I'm so sorry I haven't replied to your email! I'm so hopelessly overwhelmed with emails I owe responses to right now, but please know it made me SUPER happy and I'm so excited for you tooooo!

  3. LOVE that cookbook, and the cake looks amazing! Yum!

  4. I love the sound of this cake! With a nice cup of tea, vintage teacups of course in keeping with the retro theme.

  5. Thanks for the recipe share :) Sounds delightful

  6. Anh: thanks for the tip! You are so right about fresh berries though. I could eat this frosting with a spoon and make myself very, very ill.

    Hannah: No worries, lady! I thought of you on Friday when I was frantically shopping for something I didn't need and popped into Cue. That dress looks better on you than it does hanging in the store. Also, loads of great belts. Want.

    RetroRuth: Glad you like the little McAlpin's! I'll have to blog about the older one I have too.

    Not Quite Nigella: It's a real pretty cake, Lorraine! It reminded me of the cakes my grandmother made before we started baking with olive oil and yoghurt and whole boiled oranges. She'd make something like this once a week just to have around in case people popped in for tea. I love that.

    Vivian: Thanks for visiting!


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