Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book was first published in 1950 by General Mills. The first publication run was for 950,000 volumes and the regular cookbook had a retail price of $2.95, with a deluxe edition available for $3.95. Betty Crocker is a fictional character created to promote General Mills Products in 1921.
General Mills had published several other cookbooks using the Betty Crocker name before 1950. Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Cook became a revolutionary publication because the cookbook contained recipes beyond the normal baked goods that Betty Crocker was famous for, the cookbook contained new methods of cooking old recipes, and most importantly the cookbook contained pictures, both photographs, and drawings, to demonstrate cooking techniques and processes.
Outside of the first few sections that cover food storage, preparation, and meal planning, the cookbook is organized alphabetically. Sections of the cookbook include:
- Helpful Information
- How to Prepare
- Table Service
- Bread, Quick
- Bread, Yeast
- Salad Dressings
- Supper Dishes
Within each section there are subsections, for instance in the Quick Breads section, there are pages for Muffins, Biscuits, Corn Breads, Pancakes, Waffles, Doughnuts, Fritters, Dumplings, Loaves, and Coffee Cakes. Within each subsection, normally there is a “Key Recipe”, or master recipe and then there are variations given using the “Key Recipe” as the base. Below is an example of the Biscuit subsection:
Biscuits, Key Recipe
2 cups sifted Gold Medal Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
Sift together 2 cups sifted Gold Medal Flour, 2.5 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in finely 1/4 cup shortening. Stir in to make soft dough 3/4 cup milk.
Round up on lightly floured cloth-covered board. Knead lightly. Roll or pat out about 1/2-inch thick. Cut. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a hot oven (450-degrees) until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve piping hot with butter also jelly, honey, syrup, etc.
*For richer biscuits, use 2 cups Gold Medal Flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 6 tablespoons shortening, and 2/3 cup milk.
Follow Key Recipe above – except, in place of milk, use buttermilk. Use only 2 tablespoons baking powder and add 1/4 teaspoon soda.
Bacon Biscuits – Perfect with eggs.
Follow Key Recipe above – adding 1/3 cup drained cooked bacon bits (about 4 strips) to flour and shortening mixture.
Cheese Biscuits – Golden and savory with salads.
Follow the Key Recipe above – adding 1/2 cup grated dry shart American cheese to flour and shortening mixture.
Chives Biscuits – A dash of green and taste supreme.
Follow the Key Recipe above – adding 4 tablespoons minced chives to flour mixture.
Herb Biscuits – Gourmet’s delight with roast meats.
Follow the Key Recipe above -adding 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon dry sage, and 1 1/4 teaspoons caraway seeds to the flour mixture.
Curry Biscuits – Super with veal, lamb, chicken eggs, etc.
Follow the Key recipe above – adding 1/4 teaspoon curry powder to dry ingredients.
Follow the Key Recipe above – except increase milk to 1 cup. Drop from spoon on a greased pan or into greased muffin cups.
Orange Tea Biscuits
Follow the Key Recipe above – except add grated rind of 1 orange to dry ingredients. Before baking, press 1/2 cube of loaf sugar, dipped in orange juice, into the top of each biscuit.
Filled Biscuits – Quick, easy snack for young people.
Follow the Key Recipe above – except roll dough only 1/4-inch thick. Place a piece of cheese or a pitted date or a bit of deviled ham, etc. on each biscuit. Fold it over, press edges together. Bake.
Whole Wheat Biscuits
Follow the Key Recipe above – except substitute 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the white flour.
Scones – A tea time favorite in the British Isles.
Follow the Key Recipe above – except add 2 teaspoons sugar to dry ingredients; use only 1/2 cup milk, and add 1 slightly beaten egg. Roll dough 1/4-inch thick. Cut into triangle and diamond shapes. Place slightly apart on the baking sheet. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake.