Baked Apples (1907)

A tart treat from the turn of the century

While looking through old newspapers doing research for my upcoming book, I noticed several papers had a section with recipes. As I looked through these recipes, I wondered to myself, just how did the food from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s taste? I’ve decided to try out a few of these recipes and share them with my readers.

This recipe is from The Spanish American, a newspaper published in the once thriving community of Roy, New Mexico. Roy is located on the desolate high short grass prairie of northeastern New Mexico and now has less than 300 residents. However, Roy was once a growing community with new settlers searching for their fortune and rushing to claim their own piece of land.

Old Barns near Roy, NM

Many of these settlers were brought in on the railroad. The El Paso Southwestern Railroad first came through the area in 1903. The line was constructed to reach the rich coal mines in Dawson, NM. The railroad helped bring settlers and grow the isolated communities in northeastern New Mexico. Folks relied on the train not only for travel, but also for goods and supplies, and to ship their crops and livestock to market.

Anyone who has driven down modern day Highway 39 through Roy may wonder what types of goods there were to be shipped. The landscape looks like nothing but desolate grassland as far as the eye can see. Cattle ranching seems to be the only industry left in the area. At one time however, there were significant farms, mills, and even orchards in the area.

Mills Canyon (site of Melvin Mills orchards)

Prior to the dust bowl, many of the settlers tried their hand at farming and crops such as wheat, corn, maize, beans, and other crops were grown in abundance on the dry-land farms of the area. Flour was milled locally in Solano, NM and a tremendous fruit orchard was located in the Canadian River Valley just miles from Roy. In fact, back in the early 1900’s all of the ingredients for this dessert were grown or produced locally around Roy.

The ingredients for this recipe are not hard to find today. What is a bit more complex is deciphering the measurements and wording used for recipes in the early 1900’s. You will notice in the recipe, it calls for a teacupful of powdered sugar. After a bit of digging, I found out that a teacupful is equal to about 3/4 of a cup. In addition, the recipe calls for sweet milk. If you are thinking sweet milk is Carnation, you would be wrong (just as I was). Back in the day, there were two types of milk used in recipes, sweet milk and butter milk. When a recipe calls for sweet milk, it is simply calling for regular whole milk. Finally, the recipe doesn’t give a temperature for cooking your dessert. I guessed at 350 and it came out just great.

Below is the recipe as printed in the Roy Spanish American Newspaper on Saturday, July 6, 1907. I hope you enjoy!

Baked Apples
Line a buttered pan with six thinly sliced apples, a little butter and cinnamon; then take one teacupful powdered sugar, one-half teacupful butter, cream together, add whites of three eggs beaten to stiff froth; two cups of flour, one and one-half teaspoonfuls of baking powder, one-half cup of sweet milk; pour this batter over the pan of apples. Bake slowly one hour. When turning out, turn pan upside down so apples will be on top. Serve with whipped cream.

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