Out of Helen's kitchen - Magic Baking Powder, a Canadian tradition


Helen Drysdale
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This year, Canada is celebrating 150 years since confederation (The Sesquicentennial). I thought I would spend the next several months showcasing some historic recipes in Canada’s honour. 

Magic Baking Powder was first made in Canada in 1897 by the E. W. Gillett Company in Toronto and is now owned by Kraft; a factory in Ontario produces it for the Canadian market. The label Magic Baking Powder is found only in Canada. Though the tin is now plastic, the label has not changed (apart from being metricized). In the 1980s, a representative from the Magic Baking Powder Company appeared as a guest speaker at a lecture for students at the University of Western Ontario. The speaker asked the students in the lecture hall how many of their mothers used Magic Baking Powder. No one knew. He held up a tin of it. Every hand in the hall shot up. “And that”, he said, “is why we’ll never change our label.” Magic baking powder put out many cookbooks through the years. My oldest one is from 1930. I will share one of the six prize winning recipes printed in the front. This recipe won $250 in the National Mystery Cake Contest. That was a lot of money back in 1930, when one could feed a family for $7 to 8 for a week in groceries. Recipes are printed as they are in the book.

Two-Tone Mocha Walnut
Miss M. McFarlane’s recipe
Named by Gladys Skibsted, Beynon, Alberta
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
3 tsp. Magic Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup strong cold coffee
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 egg whites
Cream butter thoroughly; add gradually sugar, creaming well with butter. Note: it is the thorough beating and blending of these first ingredients that lay the foundation of the final texture of your cake. Measure dry ingredients- sift together twice. Add dry ingredients alternately with cold coffee. Beat thoroughly until all ingredients are evenly blended. Add chopped walnuts. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour batter into greased cake pans – filling only two-thirds full. Bake in a 350° oven for 25 minutes.

3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. cocoa
2 Tbsp. strong coffee
1 cup icing sugar (or more)
Cream butter with 2 Tbsp. sugar; add liquid. Stir remaining sugar with cocoa. Add to the butter. Beat till light and fluffy. Note: to have an icing with a smooth glazed surface use liquid hot.

Marmalade nut cookies
This recipe comes from a Magic Baking Powder cookbook that is 50 years newer. 
Drop cookies – so easy to shape – feature nutmeats and orange marmalade in a happy combination. 
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. Magic Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Blue Bonnet margarine or butter
2/3 lightly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup thick orange marmalade
1 cup coarsely-chopped nutmeats
Grease cookie sheets. Preheat oven to 350°. Sift together flour, Magic Baking Powder, soda and salt. 
Cream margarine or butter; gradually blend in brown sugar. Add egg and beat it in well; mix in vanilla, marmalade and nutmeats. Add flour mixture part at a time, combining well after each addition. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls, well apart, on prepared cookie sheets. Bake in oven 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Yield about 5 dozen cookies.