Friday, May 13, 2011

Ripe Bananas? Make Cake Frosting/Watkins CB Review

My grandmother, who we referred to as "Mammam", always used Watkins' Pure Vanilla when she baked. She thought that their vanilla was the best, and that pure vanilla was worth the added cost over extract. When I found, recently, that Watkins' vanilla is still available at Target, I was thrilled and bought 4 bottles in one trip! I prefer to buy the smallest bottles because I think it stays fresher as I use it.
While roaming around the flea market at Canton, Texas, weekend before last, I was equally excited about my discovery of this 1938 Watkins' Cookbook. It is a blue, hardback cookbook that sold for $1.50 in the thirties. This example of cooking and advertising history, published by The J.R. Watkins Company of Winona, Minnesota, is worth your search. Fortunately my find is in very good condition. There are full page ads included in the cookbook for Watkins' cocoa, extracts and fruit syrups. For any history enthusiast, the advertisements make the book that much more interesting. The recipes in this cookbook have the expected wartime flavor; money and time-saving dishes all using Watkins' products.
In the thirties, some food items were expensive or in short supply (just like today!) so there are recipes for "One-Egg Cake" or "Two-Egg Cake", as well as, "Lima Bean Loaf" for a meatless meal. It covers a wide range of menu items, but I believe, because of Watkins' fame for baking supplies, the section for baking is the star of this book!
One of the more unusual baking recipes is for a Chocolate Angel Food Cake. I plan to try the recipe for Watkins' Jelly Roll, too. This book gives the history of the company and its sales strategy; good American salesmen selling great American products, including a map locating the 10,000 Watkins' dealers. Above the map it claims to be, "The Largest and Oldest Institution of its Kind in the World".
Our sample recipe today is a great way to use up that ripe banana that always seems to be lying on the kitchen counter.

Page 155 Watkins' Banana Frosting

Pulp of 1 ripe banana
2 C confectioners' sugar
1/3 tsp Watkins' Almond Extract

Sift sugar, slowly add to mashed banana. Blend to smooth paste. Add flavoring. (I think this would be great on a chocolate Texas Sheet Cake and then drizzle with chocolate!)

LATEST ADVENTURE IN TEXAS: SOUTHLAKE FOR JAPAN FUNDRAISER LAST WEEKEND (great bands, fantastic taco bowls, all-around-fun-time!!)


  1. I love all your discoveries. And it's terrific that you turned up this treasure. Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. What a lovely story to set up this frugal, tasty recipe! I love that you discovered a nostalgic brand of vanilla (and bought several bottles!), and I appreciate you including the detail that you prefer small bottles for freshness. I hadn't thought of that!

    Also, the cookbook sounds like another gem.

    I sure appreciate visiting from Food on Fridays. Thanks for participating!

  3. My bananas always go bad... I think it's a texture thing with me, and a problem with believing hubby that he'll eat them; so I throw them out a lot and make a lot of banana bread. This frosting sounds awesome... and a great solution that's not banana bread! :) Thanks for linking up to Friday Potluck.

  4. this sounds amazing very yummy love the fact that I just found a new way to use ripe bananas

  5. Can I put in a request? I'd love to see the chocolate angel food cake recipe! Great find! Thanks for linking up with Made From Scratch Tuesday!

  6. Jen, I will add the recipe on my next post. Tomorrow will be my Old Cookbook Review and I'll add your requested recipe at the end. Thanks for reading my blog :)

  7. Hi Marcia,
    I always look forward to your post every week to go along on your cookbook adventure, but this week it is really special. When I saw the Watkins Cookbook and the year, I shot up out of my chair and ran to my Grandmothers Watkins cookbook and turned to page 155. It is a different cookbook, but isn't that just the neatest find. I just love the recipe and the story. I am surprised I didn't run into you at First Monday. Thanks for sharing your adventures with Full Plate Thursday and come back soon!