Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Anne's Anodyne Liniment Cake

The Book Lover's Cookbook
Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Kay Jensen
Ballantine Books (2003)
ISBN 0345465008

This was probably the last cookbook I bought before we left the Netherlands. I found it at a local bookstore and it said it needed to come home with me. I resisted at first but finally went back to buy it. As a result, it moved with us and didn't end up in storage for six months. It's a lovely book; each quote from a book is followed by a recipe related to that book. I've used it at least once, but for the last couple of years, it's been sitting on the shelf unattended.

I haven't made a proper dessert in the last days, so tonight I thought I'd try Anne's Anodyne Liniment Cake from Anne of the Green Gables. (That's a book I've never actually read, but heard recently on the BBC iPlayer.) The woman who provided the recipe for the cookbook is the granddaughter of the author.

As I frequently do, I did all the cake mixing in my cuisinart and baked it in my 9"x13" pan, rather than two 9" round cakepans. But something wasn't quite right. The cake rose very high on the outside edges, mostly along the long edges, rather than the short ones. After a very short cooling it came away from the sides of the pan.

For an icing, I used the Creamy Butter Frosting recipe that's printed with the cake recipe. Definitely wouldn't do this bit again. Much too sweet and I added only about 2/3 of the sugar required. A nice cream cheese icing, not too sweet, as we prefer, would be better. Or maybe a chocolate icing to contrast with the vanilla cake. This time, since the whole cake looked a bit sad, we thought we'd top it off with some hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles, for those whose Dutch is rusty).

The cake actually tasted pretty good, but the texture was more like a thick, fluffy pancake. I'm not sure what caused the strange rising and texture , but wonder about the amount of baking powder. One tablespoon was called for, where I'd expect no more than 1-1/2 teaspoons (a half tablespoon). It also seemed to me that there wasn't enough batter for two 9" pans. If there were less leavening, I think the cake might work fine in a 9" square pan. I'll try this again in a few weeks.

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sunday.


  1. Where I come from, Anne of Green Gables is almost impossible not to read as a child. PEI, which is only a couple of hours from Halifax, has a whole tourist industry based on Anne, including the house where the author lived (which has, wait for it, green gables), dolls and prullaria. It's been made into a movie, a TV series (with Sarah Polley, who is now a director) as Anne, and a musical. For some reason, Anne has a cult following in Japan.

  2. That's a pretty interesting looking cake, and I'm intrigued - did it actually have liniment in it? I'm inclined to agree with you that does seem like rather a lot of baking powder. Shame you found the icing a bit sweet - chocolate icing sounds as though it would be nice.

    Thanks so much for sharing this at Cookbook Sundays.

    Sue xo

  3. Sue, In the book, Anne accidentally made the cake with liniment instead of vanilla -- oops! I didn't make that mistake!

  4. In the US, a tablespoon is what we call a dessert spoon in the UK. A UK tablespoon is a US serving spoon. Perhaps you were using the wrong size spoon for the baking powder?

  5. Anonymous, I just went to check the book. It's published in the US, and I used my American measures, and American baking powder. So it should have been OK. This does remind me to try this again soon with a more reasonable amount of baking powder and a smaller pan.

  6. The most amusing thing about this blog post is that in the book Anne is worried about the cake not rising because of not enough baking powder!

    "I'm sure I haven't forgotten anything this time, Marilla. But do you
    think it will rise? Just suppose perhaps the baking powder isn't good? I
    used it out of the new can. And Mrs. Lynde says you can never be sure of
    getting good baking powder nowadays when everything is so adulterated.
    Mrs. Lynde says the Government ought to take the matter up, but she says
    we'll never see the day when a Tory Government will do it. Marilla, what
    if that cake doesn't rise?"

    I'm a bit surprised by the recipe tho... it doesn't really look like what is described in the book, which is probably something more like a Victoria Sponge