One of my first blogs was about my favorite vintage food magazine, Sphere, which began publication in February of 1972. It also is the blog that people still find in Google and are so excited to learn that there are other die hard fans of the magazine to this day. There has never been a time since I wrote that original blog, that I don’t receive at least several requests per month for an old favorite recipe. Almost every email starts out – “I loved Sphere magazine. One of my favorite recipes was from the magazine, but I lost it. Could you help me?” The writer will go into detail about why they loved it, what occasion they first made it for, and what memories it brought back. Most times I can find the recipe and sometimes I can’t – but I always try. This summer, I had requests for the homemade ice creams, frozen desserts, and anything with berries. At Christmas, the requests are for cookies and holiday meals. I am expecting many requests for soups, stews, and breads coming soon. I had a request for a recipe in this particular issue from August/September 1972, and found it was the “HeritageWedding” article. I have had many, many requests for this one.
The article is about planning your own old-fashioned outdoor wedding, including the cake- and even the dress! It said this wedding and all its elements are like “poking into your grandmother’s treasure chest, finding the cameo you always wanted, and finally putting it on.” The food is simple and good, but the cake is the scene stealer, next to the bride, that is. You can see the unusual cake on the table, with its 12 layers, and displays of thistles, sunflowers, and mushrooms, all made of meringue. Six date-nut and lemon pound cake layers are stacked alternately, each layer covered with a cranberry, apricot, or plum filling, then sprinkled with a fruit liqueur. The frosting is coffee buttercream, along with chocolate leaves and stems. The layers of the cake can be baked three weeks ahead and frozen, the meringue decorations a week before, and the cake itself can be assembled and frosted the day before. The meringue mushrooms maintain an old European tradition. The mushrooms not on the cake are piled into baskets and distributed by the bride as a good luck wish.
Here is a beautiful slice of the cake.
The bride’s dress is embroidered with the theme of the simple foods and the natural outdoor environment. There even was a pattern you could send for to make the gown with the crewel embroidery, and bridemaids dresses, all for the huge sum of $2.25, which included the postage! The crewel on the dress captured the charm of Queen Anne’s lace, lunaria, wheat shafts, and mushrooms, done in white, ecru, and beige, with accents in rust and rosy beige. Made of ivory-colored Kettlecloth, the dress bears a decollete neckline elegantly, with sleeves that arch gently above the shoulder line and curve into a flair at the waist. The lines of the bridesmaids dresses dresses are identical to the bridal gown, but with a different fabric. As the article states, “Both are fun to wear; you can frolic in them!”
Now fast forward to the October 1973 issue of Sphere. There is an article titled “Encore for a Great Cake,” which is a smaller version, seen above, of the famous original. The tiered cake fed from 80 to 100 guests, while this scaled-down version serves 16-18. It could even be a groom’s cake.
One of these days I am going to make this cake; I have wanted to do it since I first saw it in 1972. Now all I need is a bride!