Vintage cook books

Sandy ventured out into town for the first time in a while today (his ankle is much improved, thank goodness – thanks to everyone who has asked about it), and investigated a new second-hand bookshop that’s appeared (exciting!). He managed to find a chess book for the Danny (who was delighted) and a couple of smashing cook books for me.

One of my weaknesses is collecting cook books… I have….errrrmmm… quite a lot…! I particularly like vintage books which often contain the kind of simple, straightforward baking and cooking (but tasty I hope!) that I prefer. They’re also usually very useful when it comes to cooking on a budget and cooking with regard to the seasons, both of which we make a real effort to do.

Of course, part of the trick with vintage is seeing the potential – and sometimes you have to work very very hard. Look at these dreadful pictures from the ‘Good Housekeeping Picture Cake Making’:

Iced cakes
Some very scary icing!

Children's Christmas Tea Table

A soulless children’s Christmas tea table… look at that terrifying tinned fruit – that brings back awful memories!


Those little cakes look ok, but I can’t believe that burnt cake at that back. Standards in food photography have clearly improved signifcantly!

Peach gateau

A peach gateau – words fail me!

BUT there are some great recipes here – lots of lovely family fruitcakes and yeasted bakes. And of course, because frugality was still very much the order of the day, as a result of the 2nd World War, there’s quite a few recipes that don’t include egg , which is great if you are baking for someone with an egg allergy. Like Good Housekeeping publications today, it’s also full of brilliant, illustrated step by step baking lessons, which would make anyone feel more confident in their baking skills.

Finally there’s also some fun pictures too:

Good Housekeeping Institute Family Centre
I love this photograph of the Good Housekeeping Institute Family Centre. I like the way that the ladies (they’re quite definitely ladies!) are wearing hats and coats – one of them even has a fur coat…

Storage and weighing in the kitchen
And this is a brilliant picture of useful kitchen storage and weighing scales. I would love to have some of that stuff in my kitchen.

Kenwood Advert

Here’s a fabulous Kenwood advert. I love my Kenwood Chef very dearly, but it’s not half as funky as this one. It’s one of those ‘oh, that’s just like my mum’s!’ moments.. Also I would really appreciate a gingham overall – or is that a little bit too much Ena Sharples?

Vintage Tala advert

And finally this wonderful Tala advert – the colours are so evocative of the 50’s, when this book was published. I can see why Tala stuff is so popular now – it fits so well with all the fifties, vintage, retro & shabby chic looks doesn’t it..

Oh dear – I was going to tell about the other book too, but there’s too many pics here already (too much cake? surely not!), so will leave that one for another day. Enjoy the rest of your weekend…!

3 thoughts on “Vintage cook books

  1. Some of these pictures make me want to run to the Pepto bottle:-) I have a recipe book that was given to my parents as a wedding gifts – some of the recipes don’t inspire much confidence – but like you say I think it has some of the best cake/tea bread/traybake recipes I’ve ever found! Glad to hear Sandy’s ankle is getting better. x

  2. Brilliant! My eldest has recently started showing an interest in cooking and keeps bringing cook books back from charity shops. We have been marvelling at just how inedible old school food photography made things look. You are so right in thinking it has come a very long way.

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