February 20, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Smuckle Doodle Cake

Smuckle Doodle Cake

This recipe is much more interesting than I thought when I first looked at it. This afternoon, I realized that today is Saturday and I'd been planning to post a heritage recipe--but I hadn't yet decided what to make or gone grocery shopping. I started flipping the pages in the historical society cookbook, looking for something that I already had the ingredients for.

When I saw "sweet milk" listed as an ingredient in this cake, I immediately thought of sweetened condensed milk. I knew I didn't have any in my pantry, but if I had to go to the store, at least I'd only have to pick up one ingredient. I had the rest of the ingredients on hand--and I'm sure most of you do, too!

As it turns out, "sweet milk" is actually just regular old whole milk. Back in the day, when people didn't want to waste anything at all, they found a way to use all of it--even spoiled milk! So, if the recipe just listed "milk", it wouldn't tell the reader what type of milk: buttermilk, sour milk, fresh milk, etc. In this case, "sweet milk" is just ordinary cow's milk, like what you would pour over your cereal.

Happily, I did not have to go to the store. On the other hand, this recipe looked a little boring. I like the heritage recipes that have some background to them, though, even if it's just a few words so that I know how old it is or where it came from.

This recipe for Smuckle Doodle Cake was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by Ruth Finley in memory of her mother, Mae Clark. Ruth said that she always ate this cake at her grandmother's house when she was a kid. She specified that it was over 100 years old (and the book was published in 1995, so 126+ years old today). 

As usual, I'll share the recipe and then my notes underneath it and some more photos. That's where it gets interesting!

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe!

Smuckle Doodle Cake


1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
pinch salt
1/2 c. sweet milk
1/2 c. sifted flour


Mix thoroughly. Pour into a greased, small square pan. Sprinkle a mixture of sugar and cinnamon over cake before baking. Bake in a slow oven (350 F) about 35 minutes or until done.

My notes:

*I already addressed the sweet milk. I just used regular whole milk.

*I wasn't sure what a "slow oven" was. When I Googled it, I learned that it's an oven heated to a temperature between 250 F and 325 F. So, according to that definition, 350 F is not a "slow oven". But a slow oven is not a special oven, so that was what I wanted to make clear before I baked this.

I didn't know this, but there are lots of terms used to describe the baking temperature of an oven. I got this little chart from Wikipedia, as well as this info:

"Before ovens had thermometers or thermostats, these standard words were used by cooks and cookbooks to describe how hot an oven should be to cook various items. Custards require a slow oven for example, bread a moderate oven, and pastries a very hot oven. Cooks estimated the temperature of an oven by counting the number of minutes it took to turn a piece of white paper golden brown, or counting the number of seconds one could hold one's hand in the oven."

*The recipe didn't specify what size pan to use--it just said to use a "small square" pan. Looking at the amount of ingredients, I felt like an 8x8 pan (the smallest I have) would be too big. I didn't want to try doubling the recipe and messing up the baking times--I'm not a baker!--so I just decided to try the 8x8 pan and see if it worked out. I used an 8x8 square Pyrex baking dish.

*While I'm not a baker, I do know that there are usually some sort of (leavening?) ingredients to make cakes rise. So before I baked it, I kind of guessed it wouldn't puff up a lot. But what do I know?

The texture of the batter was like a very thin cake batter. I poured it into the greased pan and per the recipe, sprinkled some sugar and cinnamon on top. I put it in the oven and set the timer for 35 minutes.

Halfway through, I got curious and took a quick peak in the oven--I was very surprised to see that the cake rose, but not in a normal way. It was almost like there were big air pockets underneath. I figured it would level out. When the timer went off, I used a toothpick to check to see if it was done (and it was). The bubbles were still there, though.

I used a toothpick to poke at them and see if that would deflate them. That's when I noticed that the cake had a very unusual texture. I could lift it easily out of the pan. It looked like it had a bit of a crust on the bottom and then a sort of filling, and the flakey cinnamon-sugar on top. Not at all what I expected! But it smelled good. After lifting it, the air bubbles underneath were gone, so it was very flat. And as I expected, it didn't really rise.

Hopefully this is what it's supposed to look like... maybe I just messed it all up! Haha

When I tasted it, I first noticed that the texture was not at all what you imagine when you think of cake. I had a hard time describing it to Eli (who asked me what I made)--but eventually, I realized that it reminded me of a crepe. A very thick crepe. If you eat a crepe that has been folded a couple of times, that's the texture of this cake. I really liked it!

As for the flavor, it reminded me of rice pudding. Then I realized that I basically used the same ingredients in the cake that I use for rice pudding--only I used flour instead of rice. When I make rice pudding, I sprinkle cinnamon on top like I did for the cake, so I think that's why it popped into my head.

Overall, I really liked this! I will definitely make it again. It's not super sweet and would probably taste good with the same sort of things you would eat with crepes: fruit, jam, chocolate, powdered sugar, Nutella, etc. This was much easier to make than standing over the stove cooking crepes, too.

Smuckle Doodle Cake

Jerry's at work and the kids haven't tasted it, so I can't tell you their opinions. But I'm pretty sure they'd like it as much as I do. Now I'm tempted to go to the store for some strawberries...


  1. This recipe is similar to the recipes for Impossible Pie. This is an interesting challenge.

  2. Seems similar to a German pancake.

  3. I'm enjoying these recipes :) Sounds kind of similar to a Dutch Baby pancake that my daughter learned to cook in school.

  4. I too was going to say this almost sounded like a Dutch Baby! Which I love!


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