Before you start, sample the rum and check for quality, begins a recipe for Christmas rum cake in Montauk Cooks with Friends. Like many community cookbooks, it features recipes from local residents and was published to raise money for a local organization, in this case the Friends of the Montauk Library. The cookbook came out in 1989; unfortunately, the community has lost a number of the contributors since then.
A so-called A. Nonymous pitched in with the Christmas rum cake recipe, which continues: Good, isn’t it? Now go ahead. Select a large mixing bowl, measuring cup, etc., and check the rum again for quality. It must be just right. Try again.
Among other, more serious recipes were ones from Jean Fischer, Donna Etzel, Eileen Bock, Barbara Metzger, Charlotte Schorr, Mildred Shapiro, Stephanie Krusa, and Jane Liebell. Sweetly, a number of contributors credit other people for the recipes: Cora Alice’s spicy pecans, Carol’s borscht, Claire’s creamy clam chowder, Amy’s chicken breasts with mushrooms, Nanny’s sour cream coffee cake, Grandma O’Dea’s candies. “There is no such thing as a book of entirely new and original recipes,” the Friends confess on the back of the title page. “This is a compilation of favorite recipes submitted by contributors who vouch for their excellence.”
Now, with an electric beater, beat 1 cup butter in a large, fluffy bowl, the rum cake recipe goes on. Add 2 large eggs and 2 cups baking powder and a pinch of rum, one teaspoon of soda and 1 cup of pepper or maybe salt.
The Montauk Library has a full pantry of charming vintage cookbooks that were used to raise money for such organizations as the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, the Montauk Historical Society, even the Parents Association of Most Holy Trinity School in East Hampton. A Youtube video offers a taste of them, and a Throwback Thursday blog also provides a sense of their flavor and, in many cases, quirky or just plain delicious illustrations.
Next sift in half pint of lemon juice, fold in chopped buttermilk and strained nuts, the recipe continues. Check the rest of the rum – and go to bed.