Recipe 16: Gold Medal Flour’s Sour Cream Dressing (1910)

I didn’t know if I should keep attempting these recipes with everything happening. I went back and forth between worrying that I was being insensitive about the current state of affairs and thinking that I should keep things as normal as possible. I chose the latter. I decided that I would make recipes that used ingredients that I already had in the house and would make food I would actually eat (sadly, no more strange puddings for a while).

I looked through the only cookbook that I have from the 1910s, The Gold Medal Flour Cookbook, which was published in the year 1910. This is one of the most popular cookbooks from this decade according to Taste of Home.

Gold Medal Flour was manufactured by Washburn-Crosby in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from 1877 to 1928, when the company merged with other mills to form General Mills.

What I found most interesting is the great mill explosion that happened to Washburn-Crosby in 1878, just one year after the company was formed.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress

Yikes! I had to look at that closely to see that it was an artist’s rendering of the explosion. It looks like something out of an action movie.

Anyway, the company recovered and published cookbooks for their flour, which included advertising throughout.

Funnily enough, our grocer does NOT have more flour because of the COVID-19 panic!

There are even coupons in the back so that friends could request a copy of the cookbook!

The instructions are to send to “Wahsburn-Crosby Co., Minneapolis, MN” with no additional information for the address. That’s it. No street, no number, nothing else. Things are definitely different now.

Anyway, the book has recipes for many things other than flour-based foods (meats, vegetables, sauces). I needed to make some salad dressing, so I flipped to the Salad page and found what I needed.

I was looking for something that would use some leftover ingredients at the house. I was in luck with the “Sour Cream Dressing” because I had everything I needed. Yay!

The recipe is as follows:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Mix dry ingredients, combine with the egg slightly beaten, add cream slowly and cook in double boiler until like custard, when cool add vinegar.

Pretty simple! I did not use a double boiler (I do not have one and certainly was not going to go looking for one). I thought, “Meh, a regular pan will do!” I realize now as I type this that this was a mistake. The benefit of a double boiler is that it heats more gently and evenly. You can see what happens when you don’t use one below.

The first step is to mix the dry ingredients:

Then, combine with egg slightly beaten:

And slowly add the cream (I only had prepared mustard in the fridge and not mustard powder, so I blended it in when I added the sour cream, the other wet ingredient)….

Err…is it supposed to look like this?

…until thick and smooth.

Now, here’s where the double boiler was needed. The “dressing” is supposed to have a custard-like consistency (smooth), but instead it looks curdled and lumpy. The double boiler would have heated the ingredients to a lower temperature and not cooked the egg and curdled the sour cream. I realize now that the dressing would have actually looked like dressing had I FOLLOWED DIRECTIONS. I should never have thought that a regular pot would do the same job as a double boiler! I’m nowhere near experienced enough to make substitutions in cookware. Lesson learned.

(Honestly, though, I will admit that I did not realize the difference the double boiler would have made until I sat down to type this. I thought this is how the dressing was supposed to look right up until about 30 minutes ago. I thought before I posted this that I should see if the double boiler was really important to the recipe. I Googled “Can you substitute a regular pan for a double boiler?” and the general consensus is “No!”)

I cooked the mixture for about 10 to 15 minutes until it was thickened and as smooth as it was going to get.

Anyway, once the mixture cools, add vinegar and stir. You are done!

I put it on a salad and it was not bad! Just not as smooth as it should have been. It has a creamy mustard flavor (it reminded me of a honey mustard dressing without the honey). It didn’t go on the salad very easily. It has the consistency of the yolk part of a deviled egg , which is obviously not good for a salad dressing. Still, I pressed on, putting a spoonful on my lettuce and thinking that this was how salad dressing was in the past.

Time Travel Experience: The cookbook was the best part. I enjoyed seeing the advertisements in the pages and the cloth sacks of flour displayed throughout the cookbook (apparently, the company changed to paper sacks soon after this cookbook). I also enjoyed learning about the mill explosion and the dramatic artist’s rendition of the disaster.

Overall Experience: It did not taste bad at all. I give it a 7/10 for the taste. I will use EVERY BIT OF IT somehow so that I do not waste it during this time when certain foods are scarce. I just need to figure out a way to make it smoother. Also, I learned that when the instructions say to do something do what the instructions say to do!

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