Catskill Cake


A Vintage Recipe / Kelli Huggins

Scone-esque and buttery with a burst of fruitiness from dried currants, Catskill Cake is well-suited to the holiday (even breakfast!) table.

In March 1887, Good Housekeeping printed a letter to the editor from a reader in Pewee Valley, Kentucky, referred to only as LTC. 


LTC’s letter detailed three recipes for using surplus egg yolks, including one bake called "Catskill Cake."

"One cupful of sugar, one-half cupful of butter, one-half cupful of sweet milk, one and one-half cupful of flour, yolks of seven eggs, one teaspoonful of cream of tartar, one half teaspoonful of soda. A cupful of currants floured and put in adds to this, when baked in a solid cake."

There is no indication of what exactly makes this cake "Catskill".” And unfortunately, as the writer was identified simply as LTC, tracing any personal or family tie to this area would be difficult, if not downright impossible. 

Mystery aside, newspapers across the country reprinted the recipe for Catskill Cake. It was relatively popular in 1887, but how does it suit a 2018 palate? 

Catskill Center staff sampled a test bake of Catskill Cake and it got the thumbs up all-around. 


Catskill Cake

1  cup sugar

1/2 cup room-temperature butter 

1/2 cup whole milk 

("sweet milk" in the original recipe)

1 1/2 cups flour, plus ~1tbsp for flouring currants

7 egg yolks

1 tsp cream of tartar

Before ovens had controls, bakers managed their oven temperature by adding fuel or moving coals

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup currants (you can substitute raisins)

Preheat  oven to 325. 

Cream butter and sugar until light. Add egg yolks one at a time, combining completely. 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda. Alternate stirring the dry ingredient mixture and the milk into the sugar, butter, and egg mixture until all ingredients are fully combined.Dust the currants with remaining flour and stir into the mixture.

 Grease well and lightly flour a bundt pan. Pour mixture in an even layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Wait until completely cooled to remove from pan. 

Decorate with powdered sugar or serve plain.