After enjoying your roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and a side salad, how about a dessert using custard sauce?
The ingredient here that caught my eye was ‘Spry’. Quick internet research revealed that Spry was an American brand of vegetable shortening introduced by Lever Brothers around the 1940s (although I have found Spry pictured in ‘The 1930s Scrapbook’) and is no longer produced. Its closest competitor was Crisco, which we can still buy today.
My grandmother taught me that the secret to successful shortcrust pastry was to use half butter and half Crisco. Have a look at grandma’s Crisco Pastry recipe (including more notes on Crisco history). What was a new innovation in food technology in grandmother’s time is however very much out of fashion these days because of new scientific knowledge.
Crisco, being a type of hydrogenated vegetable oil with four grams of trans fats per tablespoon, was in trouble when information about the health risks of trans fats emerged. As a result, in January 2007, Crisco was reformulated to contain ‘zero trans fats per serving’ (read the press release). Do note that zero grams ‘per serving’ doesn’t mean no trans fats whatsoever; as this Associated Press news report reminds us, “U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows any product with less than 0.5 grams trans fat per serving to list zero grams trans fat”.
These wonderful pictures (front & back) of a cookbook put out by Spry really give a flavour of those times – ‘thrifty and healthful’. Well, it was also the era when Capstan cigarettes were advertised with pictures of athletic swimmers :).