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Cookbook Spotlight: Baking With the Brass Sisters

Marilynn and Sheila Brass are on a mission to bring old-fashioned home baking to everyone’s kitchen. In Baking with the Brass Sisters: Over 125 Recipes for Classic Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Breads, Desserts, and Savories from America's Favorite Home Bakers, they’ve gone to their collection of trusted manuscript cookbooks and handwritten recipes to discover home-baked favorites that were brought to America from around the world, as well as many created right here. 

Home bakers will find wonderful recipes for treats such as Grandma Goldberg’s Honey Cake, Chocolate Walnut Banana Muffins, Billy Goat Cookies, Cobblestone Apple Tart, Mother Carleton’s Black Walnut Bundt Cake, and many more. Baking with the Brass Sisters is a classic baking book that people will cherish for years to come.  

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Scroll down for a sneak peak of the cookbook, plus a chance to enter to *win* your own copy of Baking with the Brass Sisters!


Pink Velvet Cake

We’ve always loved Red Velvet Cake, even making it into diminutive cupcakes, but we were looking for a very special cake for a young birthday girl, and we decided to bake a Pink Velvet Cake, just as delicious, but very “girly.” We based this recipe on the Red Velvet Cake in Heirloom Cooking. We admit that this cake, when frosted and decorated, reminds us a bit of those plastic doll cakes from the 1960s and 1970s, with their skirts made of cake. The Pink Velvet Cake relies on seedless raspberry jam for its pink color. We found that boys and men also enjoy a slice of this feminine cake.    


Aunt Minnie’s Date and Oat Bars

This recipe for Aunt Minnie’s Date and Oat Bars is based on one that comes from our friend Sue Truax’s Aunt Minnie, who made them throughout the 1950s and 1960s. They were a holiday special in the Schleiger and Story families. Sue remembers Aunt Minnie cutting her Date and Oat Bars and layering them in a large oatmeal cylinder between sheets of wax paper at Thanksgiving and other holidays. These bars are sweet and chewy, and they make a great gift. We added the grated lemon zest and lemon juice to the date filling.    


Grandma Goldberg’s Honey Cake

This recipe from the 1930s comes from Hilary Finkel Buxton, a friend from our days at WGBH, the public television station in Boston, and her sister, Sandy. Their grandma Celia Goldberg admitted to 101 before she died. She was beloved by her family, and they treasured the sometimes cryptic notes she bequeathed to them for her Honey Cake, Mandlebread, and Noodle Pudding. Grandma called her sister, Yetta, who lived to be 102, every day when they both lived in the Bronx.    


Mrs. Finkelstein’s Marble Cake

We were given this recipe by our friend Anne Marie Geldart, and when we asked her who Mrs. Finkelstein was, she said she didn’t know. She received the recipe from her mother, and her mother didn’t know. We have not solved the mystery of Mrs. Finkelstein, but whoever she is, she sure makes a great cake!

SWEET TIP: We suggest that you treat cake batters gently when using egg whites as part of the leavening so that the air from the beaten egg whites in the batters doesn’t deflate. That’s why we gently shake the pan filled with batter rather than tap it on the counter to remove air bubbles.  

Recipes posted with permission from Baking with the Brass Sisters: Over 125 Recipes for Classic Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Breads, Desserts, and Savories from America's Favorite Home Bakers