All-Bran Tea Cake
(donated by Miss M Bulgin)
- 2 tab dripping/butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup sweet milk
- 1 cup Kelloggs All-Bran
- 1 heaped cup plain flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of raisins/sultanas
Sift dry ingredients and add alternatively with the milk.
Add raisins/sultanas last.
Bake in a moderate oven (180 deg c) for an hour. (35 minutes *** see notes).
My Results and Notes
My first concern was whether Kellogs All-Bran in the late 30s to late 40s was the same product that is sold today. I looked at a few vintage ads by Kellogs such as this one here and here and found that as best I could see from the pictures, All-Bran hasn't changed much from when Miss M. Bulgin was baking.
I was a little bit naughty and made a few substitutions, such as sultanas for raisins and butter for dripping but I think this wouldn't have had a huge effect on the overall product. I also added a tiny splash of almond milk to the milk, in an attempt to sweeten it a little.
The batter came together nicely but spoon or bowl lickers beware! This isn't a particularly sweet batter because there is only a small amount of sugar. I prepared the pan by buttering all inner sides, covering the bottom with baking parchment and flouring the sides.
The recipe calls for the cake to be baked in a moderate oven for an hour. I pondered this a little and decided that if the recipe was actually from the 30s and the kitchen range/oven was one like those sold in the ads for ovens a change would be required. Firstly, the seal on modern ovens is far more successful at keeping heat in the oven. Secondly, I suspect that our modern ovens hold a more regular and high temperature.
(important note ***) I decided to play it safe and only baked the cake for 35 minutes at 180 degrees celcius. It turns out that that was perfect.
I added some creamed cheese icing (cheated and bought Philadelphia Cheese's pre-made frosting) and added some blueberries on the top.
The cake had a thick and heavy fruit cake consistancy and tasted wholesome. It was only a little sweet but I found this very pleasant.
Upon sampling the cake I regretted adding sultanas. They bought a nasty, overcooked fruit taste to the mouth and was the only feature of the cake I didn't enjoy.
I would like to try making this cake again but instead of the sultanas, I'd add chopped dried apple pieces and a small dash of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Pondering Miss M. Bulgin
I found a few articles in the Courier Mail (courtesy of the Trove, the NLA's digitisation project) mentioning a Miss M. Bulgin.
Given that at this early stage in the project I don't have a clear date for the publication of the book, I am not able to easily determine whether the earlier articles in 1933 or the later ones in 1941 relate to our donor.
A Courier Mail article in 1933 lists a Miss M Bulgin as being responsible for the 'fish pond' at a local fete to raise money for the Baptist Church in Nundah. Other stalls at the fete included fruit and vegetables, woodwork, plain and fancy needlework, potted plants and cakes and sweets.
One article in 1937 mentions a Miss M Bulgin attending a lovely afternoon tea party at Rowe's hosted by Mrs A. M. Anderson visiting from Adelaide. I like to imagine Miss M dressed in a sweet floral dress seated with her friends for a spot of tea in the old Rowe's Arcade.
Another, more exciting article is from August 1941 when a (17 year old) Miss M. Bulgin of West End received a letter from a relative overseas at war. Inside were some snapshots and a few letters from a person called Roy/Ray to his Aunt. Miss M Bulgin was hoping that the Courier Mail may help her find the Aunty the lost letters were adressed to.
Is the West End Miss M this the same Miss M from the fete stall at Nundah in 1933? If so, she would have been only 9 years old and running the fish pond at the fete. My thoughts are that it is possible but unlikely.