Thursday, March 1, 2012

Daffodil Cake for St. David's Day

March is here, and neither the roaring
of the lion nor too early appearance of the
"March Lamb" can dim our joy, for
March is the first month of spring and all
nature is waking from its winter sleep.

"The Modern Gladiolus Grower" 1914

Since the weather has been so cooperative in my neck of the woods this year, I thought it the perfect time to share a Daffodil Cake recipe for St. David's Day! St. David is the Patron Saint of Wales. In times past, and in some regions today, men wear a leek in their hat in tribute to St. David and women wear daffodils the national flower of Wales.

I first re-encountered Daffodil Cake over at Marjie's a while back and since, I've been waiting for just the right day to introduce it to you! We all know I'm not much of a baker, heck lately I'm not much of a cook either but that's a story for another day, lol:) Marjie was so sweet to let me share her cake with you and for that I thank her! Thank you Marjie. You can get Marjie's recipe which she harvested from the "new" Fannie Farmer cookbook (I'm guessing the revised edition by Marion Cunningham ) over at The Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet blog:) Don't you just want to devour it? As Marjie says, "The cake had a wonderful citrus flavor."

Daffodil Cake
Daffodil Cake

I remember skimming through a few of the early editions of Ms. Farmer's cookbooks and couldn't find a recipe for Daffodil Cake. As far as I can tell, the original Daffodil Cake recipe surfaced sometime in the 1930s. What "cracks" me up about the recipe is the amount of eggs it uses. To have such an egg laden cake so popular during the 1930s seems rather odd but, it seems, the purveyors of Swan's Down Cake Flour may have introduced it in the late 1920s or early 1930s. I did find a copy of the Van Nuys Newspaper online published in July of 1932 where three cakes were provided for contestants to bake in a cooking contest. One was a Daffodil Cake. It's extremely difficult to read but if you want to give it a try, and maybe your eyes are stronger than mine, here's the link. (the online magnifying glass is easy to manipulate once you get the hang of it:) BTW, the other two choices were Chocolate Angel Food Cake and Burnt Sugar Cake. (you really should follow those links one is at Anna's Cookie Madness and the other is for Old Fashioned Burnt Sugar Cake which looks phenomenal!)

Swans Down Cake Flour

What is a Daffodil Cake? I guess you could say it is a marbleized yellow sponge/angel food cake baked in either a Tube pan or an Angel Food cake pan. Unlike Chiffon Cakes, it contains no butter, shortening or oil. It can be served unfrosted, or for special occasions such as birthdays, it can be glazed or frosted with butter cream. When prepared correctly, the colors are reminiscent of a cheerful daffodil!


The secret to any these types of Foam Cakes is all in the beating and the incorporation of air. Here's what I found at The Joy of Baking.

Sponge: A light and airy cake that contains three basic ingredients: room temperature eggs, sugar, and flour and is leavened solely by the air beaten into the eggs.  A basic sponge cake is made by beating the egg yolks and sugar until thick and lemon colored (when beaters are raised the mixture will form a ribbon as it falls back into the bowl) and then stiffly beaten egg whites (with a little sugar) are folded in.  Contains no fat.  A very versatile cake that can be flavored with extracts, nuts, citrus zests, liqueurs and can be baked in round cake pans or else a sheet pan.  Can be eaten plain or filled with whipped cream, buttercream, jam or preserves, fruit, fruit purees, nuts, chocolate, etc.
Angel Food Cake: Sometimes referred to as Angel Cake and because of its airy lightness is said to be the "food of the angels".  This cake has no egg yolks, fat, or artificial leavener so it relies totally on stiffly beaten egg whites for leavening.  Its sole ingredients are egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar, flour, salt and flavoring (such as extracts).  Angel Food Cake has the highest sugar content of all the sponge cakes and this added sugar is needed to support and stabilize the whipped egg whites. Because the egg whites give the cake its volume and structure care must be taken when adding them to the dry ingredients so they do not deflate.
Foam Cakes

Daffodil Cake was quite popular well into the 1970s. Here's a recipe from Betty Crocker.

Daffodil Cake | Betty Crocker Recipe file 1972

As I was searching for Daffodil Cake variations, I stumbled upon Pig Lickin' Cake. Well, since today is also National Pig Day, I just had to include it too! Apparently, Pig Lickin' Cake, a Mandarin Orange Cake, is very popular in the south and often confused with Daffodil Cake. Like Daffodil Cake, it too can be prepared with a cake mix:)
Today is also Peanut Butter Lovers' Day for all you Peanut Butter Lovers out there. While I'm at it, and since I won't be back until Sunday, don't forget Banana Creme Pie Day tomorrow and National Mulled Wine Day on Saturday.
revised Feb. 2014

1. Fannie Farmer Cookbook (1896 @ Feeding America)
2. Candy Daffodils (From Good Housekeeping made from Laffy Taffy and fondant)
3. Pretty Daffodil Cake (The daffodils are made with gum paste. The stems are marshmallow fondant.)
4. Recipe Bridge (a newly discovered recipe search engine) hey you talented "foodtographers" submit your gorgeous pictures!
5. No-Bake Daffodil Cake (Sandra Lee)
6. Daffodil Cake Custard
7. Retro Daffodil Recipe (1952)
8. Daffodil Cake Pops (so cute)
9. Welcome March (last year's monthly list and days)