To celebrate Valentine’s month, we’d like to pay tribute to the impressive person who donated hundreds of cookbooks to Vanderbilt’s History of Medicine collection.
Elizabeth Neige Todhunter is the donor behind the collection, and she has a long history with Vanderbilt University.
Elizabeth was born in 1901 in New Zealand, and she became a star pupil at Christchurch Technical School and the University of Otago. She received her masters degree and taught in the home science department in Otage for many years. Dr. Todhunter left New Zealand for Columbia University and received her Ph.D. in nutrition in 1933 during the height of the Great Depression.
Dr. Todhunter taught at Washington State University and then the University of Alabama, where she was dean of home economics for many years. She retired in 1966, and came to Vanderbilt University as a visiting professor of nutrition. Much of her time at Vanderbilt was devoted to the growth of the Eskind Library’s History of Nutrition Collection, to which she left not only her own collections but a financial legacy as well.
The Todhunter Collection includes hundreds of cookbooks representing many different cuisines, countries, and ethnicities. Dr. Todhunter also saved menus from hotels, professional functions, restaurants and diners, and even airplane menus! This recipe for a raspberry cake is from Dr. Todhunter’s personal, handwritten cookbook.
Raspberry Cake Recipe by Elizabeth Neige Todhunter
- 4-5 cups, piled flour
- ½ cup butter
- 3/4 oz sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- ½ teaspoon soda
- 1 teaspoon slightly piled cream of tartar
Beat butter and sugar thoroughly and beat eggs till thick and light.
Add beaten eggs alternately to the mixture with the sifted flour.
Dissolve soda in the milk and add it to the batter.
Add cream of tartar to the batter.
Pour the mixture in a shallow, greased and floured tin and bake in a moderate oven 30-45 minutes.
When cold split in half and put the following mixture between.
Whipped Cream Filling:
- ¼ pint whipped cream
- 1 tablespoon raspberry jam
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Beat all of the ingredients with a mixer for 3-5 minutes, or until it has stiffened.
(Recipe Notes: This cake turned out to be a lot like shortcake. It had a biscuit quality that was tasty with fresh whipped cream and raspberries. I would recommend adding a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the batter for better flavor. I used two 6 inch cake pans for this recipe, but I think drop biscuits would work well too.)
Writing – original draft, Recipe Developer, and Photographer: Leanna Myers, web designer and social media coordinator at Vanderbilt Libraries
Writing – review & editing: Christopher Ryland, curator of History of Medicine Collections at Vanderbilt Libraries
Supervision: Celia Walker, assistant university librarian For Assessment, Communication, and Engagement