The Dessert Collector

By Susan LaRosa

Baker Susan LaRosa rescues vintage cookbooks and cherished family recipes in search of forgotten favorites.

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Susan LaRosa
By Seth Smoot

How It Started

My fascination with vintage recipes started about 15 years ago. I was at an estate sale in the Adirondacks when I came across a copy of Mrs. Osborn's Cakes of Quality, a cookbook from 1919. Technically it was just a bunch of recipes typed on parchment and bound together with string. But to me it was a window into the past. I saw how tastes have changed -- desserts were rich but not overly sweet -- and I got a sense of what life was like for housewives back then. Baking was how women expressed themselves, and their recipes are pretty much the only written history they left behind.

I started buying up vintage dessert recipes at yard sales and flea markets and on eBay. When I launched my blog, A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn, in January 2010, it was mainly because I wanted an excuse to test all these recipes. It was easier to justify spending so much time baking if I made it a project. I planned to blog for one year, posting a new dessert every week or so, but now I can't stop!


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