Fresh, hot doughnuts, served Civil War-style

Using a recipe hand-written in the “Sanitary Fair Cookbook Bangor 1864,” Laurel McFarland of Cheryl Wixson’s Kitchen made these doughnuts just like Maine women would have cooked them 150 years ago. The recipe is one of 99 printed in the cookbook, to be released in a modern version in July 2012.

Now you, too, can eat doughnuts prepared just like those eaten by your Civil War ancestors.

The “Sanitary Fair Cookbook Bangor 1864” contains 99 recipes for foods prepared for an 1864 fundraiser in Bangor. Among the recipes is one for doughnuts.

Here is the original recipe:

“One cup of sugar, two thirds of milk, one egg, two teaspoonsful melted butter, one teaspoonful cream of tartar, half of soda. To be mixed as thin as can be rolled easily. The fat to be very hot before dropping them in _ ..”

And that’s where the 1864 recipe ends. The Bangor Museum and History Center is publishing a modern version of the original cookbook. Each recipe will be presented in its 1864 version and its 2012 version — and more than one 1864 recipe ends abruptly, at least by modern standards.

“The fun and frustrating part of this project is [that] the [unidentified] author wrote recipes in such a manner that she assumed a reader already knew quite a bit about cooking,” said Jennifer Pictou, who heads the BMHC. “The recipe is translated exactly, so that’s where the original recipe ends.”

Here is the modern recipe for 1864 doughnuts:

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
2 T melted butter
1 tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp baking soda
3 cups flour
Canola or other oil for frying
Heat oil over medium heat.
Sift together dry ingredients. Wisk together egg, milk, and butter and stir into the dry ingredients. The dough should be relatively stiff. Dump dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll to about ½ inch thick. Cut out doughnuts.
When oil is hot, fry doughnuts, turning as the underside turns golden brown. Drain on a rack over paper towels. Serve immediately. Makes 24.
Serving suggestion: Roll doughnuts in powdered sugar or a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
Nutritional Information (per doughnut, before frying): 103 calories, 1 grams fat, 20 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 33 mg sodium, 0 grams fiber.



Brian Swartz

About Brian Swartz

Welcome to "Maine at War," the blog about the roles played by Maine and her sons and daughters in the Civil War. I am a Civil War buff and a newspaper editor recently retired from the Bangor Daily News. Maine sent hero upon hero — soldiers, nurses, sailors, chaplains, physicians — south to preserve their country in the 1860s. “Maine at War” introduces these heroes and heroines, who, for the most part, upheld the state's honor during that terrible conflict. We tour the battlefields where they fought, and we learn about the Civil War by focusing on Maine’s involvement with it. Be prepared: As I discover to this very day, the facts taught in American classrooms don’t always jibe with Civil War reality. I can be reached at