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A Vintage View of Homekeeping

Watergate cake with cover-up frosting January 13, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Vintage Recipes — LotusMama @ 9:46 am
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It all started innocently enough on Sunday morning. I sat down to do a little crocheting on a baby blanket before the rest of the house was awake. I typically like to have some background noise going while I crochet so I flipped on the TV, which just happened to be tuned to an infomercial hawking Time-Life’s Romantic Classics of the 1970s. Every song was one I knew. Now, given that I was born in 1971, my musical decade should be a little later but truly I probably know more 70s songs than any other decade. The commercial only played snippets of the songs but I got to hear Helen Reddy’s You and Me Against the World, Neil Sedaka’s Laughter in the Rain and one of my all-time favorite groups, Bread. In fact, IF this song doesn’t sum up the 70s love ballads, I’ll eat a whole pot of fondue:

I was listening to these bits of the 1970s, wishing they would play a bit of David Cassidy (they never did) and thinking I should get some John Denver songs off iTunes (because I wasn’t going to shell out 5 easy payments of $29 bucks for the compilation) when the next bit of 1970s culture hit me, though later that day.

My grandmother gave me her collection of vintage crochet patterns, circa 1975. There were many cute patterns mixed into the acrylic wonder that is 1970s crochet, but as any crochet fan will tell you, things kinda hit the skids for the craft during the 1970s. This was the age of bright orange ponchos and granny square hats, crochet bikinis and purple acrylic roller derby outfits. Crochet has only just begun to recover.

It was no coincidence that I was wearing my “bell bottom” jeans – well, bootcut is sort of like bell bottoms – and a pair of green suede wedgies. All I needed was a “Starsky and Hutch” style sweater and I would have been right in style for 1975.

Alright, so clearly I have the “Me Generation” in my mind lately. Sure, I enjoy reruns of Charlie’s Angels and I’ve been known to groove out to ABBA; I even saw KC & The Sunshine Band at my state fair and I still think Englebert Humperdinck is the best male singer ever.

Ok, I’ve said too much. Humperdinck has pushed me over the line, hasn’t he? Perhaps you will forgive me if I share another 1970s gem with you – the Watergate cake with cover-up frosting.

My family has loved the Watergate salad for years but I just discovered the recipe for the cake. Apparently, they are both likely named for the infamous break-in and cover-up; one explanation I read is that Nixon loved pistachios. Well, nothing says presidential crimes like pistachio pudding. So, if you are feeling a little nutty, get your Bee Gees album going (you know you have one) and try out this recipe.

“Here is a fantastic cake recipe that I like to prepare for special occasions,” writes Nels Wenman. “It was sent to me by a cousin in Arizona.”
Watergate Cake with Cover-Up Icing
1 (18 1/2-ounce) package white cake mix
1 (3 1/2-ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
3 eggs, unbeaten 3/4 cup oil
1 cup lemon-lime carbonated beverage
Cover-Up Icing
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil and lemon-lime in a bowl. Beat until well-blended. Pour into a greased and floured 13X9-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees 45 minutes. Cool. Spread with Cover-Up Icing and sprinkle with coconut and pecans.
Cover-Up Icing
2 (1 1/2-ounce) envelopes nondairy whipped topping mix
1 1/2 cups milk
1 (3 1/2-ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
Beat whipped topping mix, milk and pudding mix together until smooth and thick.”
—“My Best Recipe,” Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1976

I found the recipe at my favorite historical food site so all proper credit has been given; I too am not a crook.