21 Retro Baking Recipes To Take You Back in Time|Recipes Spots

  • on November 4, 2023
21 Retro Baking Recipes To Take You Back in Time

Baking Pan of Chocolate Mayonnaise Sheet Cake with a Slice Cut Out
Simply Recipes / Annika Panikker

Community cookbooks and vintage Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks are my weakness. I have dozens. For fun I pull one from the shelf and comb through looking for undiscovered or forgotten gems, something that sounds enticing or is so outlandish that the only way to really know what it’s like is to bake it myself.

Recipes like this can take some of us back to our childhood days, times before fax machines or TV remotes. They might be recipes that your mother or grandmother or another loved one made. Some retro recipes have remained favorites over the years, while others faded to obscurity.

All of the recipes below are ones that the staff at Simply Recipes treasures enough to share with you. We hope they spark old memories or delight you with their offbeat unfamiliarity.

Lazy Daisy Cake

Slice of cake in a small plate with a fork, and in the surroundings, another slice on top of a stack of plates, a glass of cream, a mug of coffee, and a baking pan with more cake
Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

Here’s a quick and easy snacking cake that’s plenty appealing on its own, but the main event is surely the broiled coconut topping. You only need one bowl to make the hot milk sponge cake and the topping, so the cake comes together in a jiffy.

Million Dollar Pie

Million Dollar Pie
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Condensed milk, coconut, pecans, and pineapple get lightened with whipped cream in this cooling Southern icebox pie. Why is it called million dollar pie? Because it tastes like a million bucks!

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Baking Pan of Chocolate Mayonnaise Sheet Cake with a Slice Cut Out
Simply Recipes / Annika Panikker

Mayonnaise cakes have been around for many decades; they’re often chocolate, like this one. The mayonnaise stands in for the butter or oil and lends a tang and tenderness to the crumb. Better yet, our mayonnaise cake boasts a luscious frosting that’s the best you’ll ever taste.

Date-Nut Chews

A plate with date-nut chews garnished with powdered sugar
Steve-Anna Stephens

In midcentury cookbooks these treats are called Chinese chews, though there’s absolutely nothing Chinese about them. Chopped dates and walnuts meet in sweet and chewy bar cookies that’ll charm everyone who tries them.

Pudding Mix Cookies

Plate of 5-Ingredient Pudding Mix Cookies (With 2 Variations)
Simply Recipes / Sara Bir

A scoop of Bisquick, an egg, a little milk, and your favorite flavor of pudding mix form the dough for these super-simple drop cookies. Add chips and you’re on your way to the best cookies in 35 minutes flat. I liked butterscotch and lemon (both pictured above) the best of the pudding mixes I tried.

Grasshopper Pie

Overhead view of grasshopper pie cut into slices with one on a plate.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

The Grasshopper is a 1970s-era cocktail featuring crème de menthe and cream. Grasshopper pie takes those flavors and makes them into a filling that’s set with melted marshmallows. You can substitute mint extract if you want an NA version. Pour it into a chocolate crumb crust and top it with whipped cream.

Sad Cake

Sliced Sad Cake in a Parchment Lined Baking Pan With Some of the Cake Slices on a Plate Next to the Baking Pan
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

There’s nothing sad about this easy cake, which is really more like extra-chewy blondies with some coconut thrown in. Get it started with a few cups of Bisquick and brown sugar. As the cake bakes, it rises and then fantastically collapses to lend it a slightly wrecked appearance, giving the recipe its name.

Hummingbird Cake

Cake stand with hummingbird cake and blue plates with slices set around it.
Annika Panikker

Hummingbird cake is a classic Southern cake that originated in a pamphlet released by the Jamaican tourism board; hummingbirds are an national symbol in Jamaica, thus the name. The cake is indeed nectar-sweet, with mashed bananas and pineapple studding moist layers that alternate with cream cheese frosting.

Lime Cracker Pie

Easy lime icebox cake with two slices taken out on a blue plate with forks
Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

This icebox cake is a no-cook wonder that takes its flavor cues from key lime pie. Layer buttery and salty Ritz crackers with a zesty lime and condensed milk filling. The hardest part is waiting for it rest in the fridge!

Bisquick Apple Coffee Cake

A baking pan with bisquick coffee cake and two squares removed from the pan.
Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Perhaps you grew up eating or making this coffee cake, just as our founder Elise Bauer did. “A favorite family ritual growing up was this apple coffee cake on Sunday mornings,” she writes. “My father would prepare it for his six greedy kids, all of us begging for him to pile on the brown sugar streusel topping.” Elise says that her dad usually doubled the recipe to better feed their large family.

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska with Slices Missing on a Cake Stand, and in the Surroundings, Two Plates with Slices of Baked Alaska and Champagne Flutes
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Just look at this cake! Imagine what an impression it would make at a celebration. And it’s actually not that hard. The base of pound cake and the ice cream filling you can just buy; the meringue is the only part you actually need to make from scratch. Our tips and recipe will guide you to success.

Seven-Layer Magic Bars

A batch of 7-layer magic bars on a cutting board
Irvin Lin

Sometimes called Hello Dolly bars, these Midwestern cookies are often must-haves on annual Christmas cookie trays. They’re easy enough to make any time, just for the heck of it. Baking them is mostly a matter of opening packages or cans: graham crackers, coconut, chocolate and butterscotch chips, chopped pecans, and condensed milk form the layers.

Peanut Butter Buckeyes

Peanut Butter balls or Buckeye balls
Irvin Lin

These delightful chocolate and peanut butter candies hail from Ohio, where years ago an Ohio State Buckeyes football fan conjured them up in her kitchen. Nowadays you don’t need to root for the Bucks to enjoy a buckeye…or two, or four.

Snip Doodles Coffee Cake

Snicker Doodle Coffee Cake
Irvin Lin

Snip doodles? They’re reputedly a Pennsylvania Dutch coffee cake that has the cinnamon-sugar appeal of snickerdoodle cookies. Stella Parks of Bravetart shared this unique recipe with us.

Candy Cane Cookies

Completed Candy Cane Cookies Recipe
Irvin Lin

Raise your hand if you ever obsessed over the colorful 1963 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book. (And yes, it’s cooky with a “y” in the title.) Striking red-and-white candy cane cookies popped from the photos on its holiday pages. Unlike the Cooky Book recipe, ours has peppermint extract for that real candy cane effect.

Texas Sheet Cake

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake
Cindy Rahe

I can’t think of any church gathering or school boosters potluck growing up that didn’t include this super-sweet and lightly spiced chocolate cake. It’s simply not Texas sheet cake without that thin layer of glaze-like frosting; nuts are a point of debate. What do you think?

Strawberry Pretzel Pie

Strawberry Pretzel Pie in a Pie Dish with Slices Cut Out
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Strawberry pretzel salad is one of those Midwestern dessert salad-not-salads that features Jell-O. Our recipe makes it into a pie and uses fresh strawberries and unflavored gelatin for a truer flavor.

Ritz Torte

Slice of ritz torte on a plate (missing a bite)
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Ritz torte is from eastern Appalachia, and it’s alluringly unusual. To make the base, toast crushed Ritz crackers and nuts before folding them into a meringue. Bake in an 8×8-inch pan and add pillowy whipped cream on top. It’s one of those buttery and light desserts that’s also deceptively rich.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Chiffon Pumpkin Pie
Elise Bauer

Chiffon pies date back to the 1920s. If you’re tired of the same old pumpkin pie, give this airy version a try. It’s lightened with whipped egg whites and nestled in a gingersnap crust.

Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey Butter Cake Slice on a Plate Next to a Baking Pan with More Cake
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Like most beloved retro recipes, the origins of this wavy-topped St. Louis favorite are murky. What we do know is that it’s sweet and rich! A yeasted cake on the bottom meets a buttery, custardy topping for a memorable dessert. Our version uses no shortcuts, and it pays off in every single way.

Grandma’s Zucchini Cake

A plated square slice of zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting
Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

The grandma here is Elise Bauer’s grandmother, who lived with Elise’s family when she was young. Her grandmother taught her to bake, and this cake is one of the recipes she shared over the years. It’s like zucchini bread deluxe.

Article Categories:
Desserts · Salad

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