Known as the Queen of Southern Cooking, Camille Glenn was a chef and cookbook author. Her parents owned a a popular hotel in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, during the town's heyday as a mineral springs and spa. It was there she learned to cook. That's my hometown too. In fact, her childhood home wasn't far from mine.
Raised in the kitchen of her parents' Kentucky country inn, Camille Glenn went on to have her own cooking school and catering business. She also wrote popular food features and columns for the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper. Mrs. Glenn was particularly known for her White Trillium Cake. Of all the woodland wildflowers in eastern North America, trilliums often rank high as a favorite. In Louisville, this cake was known as Jenny Benedict's Soufflé Cake. Jenny Benedict was famous for the sandwiches, cakes, and ice creams she served at her restaurant as well as for catering debutante parties and weddings in the early days of the twentieth century. Miss Benedict was very partial to flavoring her cakes with rum.
CAMILLE GLENN'S WHITE TRILLIUM CAKE:
3 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
(2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces
2 c. sugar
1 Tbls. milk
1 c. water *The water in the cake may surprise you, but water makes a lighter white cake than milk.
1 tsp vanilla or rum extract
6 lg. egg whites (approx. 6 oz.)
1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) butter, cut into pieces
5 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted 2-5 Tbls. heavy cream, warmed
1 Tbls. vanilla or rum extract.
Preparation - CAKE: 1. Preheat oven to 350 F. 2. Combine the sifted flour, baking powder and salt, and sift again. Set aside. 3. Cream the butter and sugar thoroughly with an electric mixer. Add the milk and beat hard (the mixture will become smoother). 4. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar in batches, alternating with the water, beating it in by hand with a rubber spatula or whisk. Add the extract and mix well. 5. Beat the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak, but are not dry and grainy. Gently fold them into the batter. 6. Spoon the batter into 2 greased and lightly floured or wax-paper lined 9-inch cake pans. Place the pans on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the layers spring back at once when lightly touched ... 30-35 minutes. 7. Remove the pans from the oven and allow them to rest a few minutes. Turn layers out onto cake racks and allow to cool completely. BUTTER FROSTING: 1. Cream the butter and sugar together in a processor or with an electric mixer. 2. add the cream gradually, stirring until the frosting has a good spreading consistency. 3. Stir in your choice of extract. Serves 8-10.
Mrs. Glenn loved recipes filled with spices, dairy fat, and liquor and collected many for her cookbooks. An outspoken woman who never lacked for strong culinary opinions and shared them freely, she considered the use of sugar in a vinaigrette or in mayonnaise an "abomination". Whether purchased or homemade, she was a stickler for the best ingredients. However, she was never dogmatic. Her Best-Ever Pumpkin Pie calls for canned pumpkin rather than fresh because she considered fresh to often be too "stringy".
Her cookbooks contain many useful tips such as breaking off rather than cutting artichoke stems which makes it easier to pull out the fibrous strings, covering candy truffles with plastic wrap to make them sticky, and allowing gingerbread to cool in the pan for five minutes to help prevent cracking. Glenn's cookbooks have been popular for decades. Her Old-Fashioned Christmas Cookbook was a Book-of-the-Month Club Good Cook Book Selection.
In spite of all the rich ingredients she used in her recipes, Camille Glenn lived to the ripe old age of 100. Perhaps it was genes. Perhaps it was growing up in small town America. Or just maybe it was that famous mineral well water.
Nestled in a wooded area of Dawson Springs is the Tradewater River, a tributary of the Ohio. In 1914, a baseball park was erected in this area to serve as the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. During a three-year period, Riverside Park saw the likes of greats such as Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.1
(Babe Ruth and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Dawson Springs, 1920)