Easy petits fours: Tiny old-fashioned teacake recipes from the ’50s

Petits fours

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Easy petits fours vintage recipe (1956)

Photo by sharonmcormack via Twenty20

Easy petits fours cakes

Yield: 36 cakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 2-3/4 cups sifted Kitchen Craft Flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons soda
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 5/8 cups butter or margarine
  • 1-7/8 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla or lemon extract
  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar
  • 7/8 cups boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Line bottom of shallow pan (10-1/2- by 15-1/2-inch) with waxed paper, and grease sides.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  3. Cream butter and sugar.
  4. Beat in eggs.
  5. Mix liquid and flavor; add alternately with dry ingredients, mixing well.
  6. Bake 30 minutes in a moderate oven (350 F).
  7. Invert cake; remove waxed paper.
  8. Cool.
  9. Cut triangles.
  10. Arrange on rack set in pan.
  11. For the icing, sift 2 pounds confectioners' sugar.
  12. Combine with 7/8 cup boiling water, corn syrup and vanilla.
  13. Add color.
  14. Pour icing on cakes; re-use dripped icing.
  15. Allow to set; decorate.


See more petit four cake recipes below

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 36 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1500Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 199mgCarbohydrates: 370gFiber: 1gSugar: 337gProtein: 6g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

Easy basic petits fours recipe (1956)

How to make classic petits fours: Tiny frosted cakes (1956)

From Family Weekly Magazine (April 22, 1956)

To turn out pastries as lovely as any shown, you will need a cake-decorating set, which includes a bag or gun and various tubes for making flowers, leaves, and other decorations.

Experiment with the set before you actually decorate any pastries; make your decorations on waxed paper—then you can scrape up the frosting and re-use it until you’ve mastered the designs. Fill the bag or gun only two-thirds full with frosting; if you’re using the bag, be sure to twist it securely at the top.

After you’ve learned to control the pressure, you merely guide the tube in the right direction. The more you practice, the easier decorating will become. The results will surprise and please you.

Photo by sharonmcormack via Twenty20
Photo by sharonmcormack via Twenty20

Butter sponge cake (gateau Genoise)

Butter bottom of 15-1/2 x 10-1/2 x 1-inch pan. Line with waxed paper cut to fit bottom exactly; butter waxed paper. Melt over hot water and set aside to cool 3 tablespoons butter.

Put into top of 3-qt. double boiler:

5 eggs
1 cup less 1 tablespoon sugar

Set double-boiler top over simmering water. Beat constantly until mixture is thick and piles softly (about 10 min. with electric mixer or 20 to 25 min with hand-rotary beater).

Remove from heat and continue beating until mixture is cooled. Blend in:

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Divide into four portions 1-1/4 cups sifted cake flour. Sift one portion at a time over egg mixture and fold gently together. Use flexible spatula and slip it down side of bowl to bottom.

Turn bowl quarter turn. Lift spatula through mixture along side of bowl with blade parallel to surface. Turn spatula over to fold lifted mixture across material on surface. Cut down and under; turn bowl and repeat process until mixture is just blended. Add melted butter gradually, folding only until blended. Pour batter into pan.

Bake at 325°F 40 to 45 min., or until cake springs back when lightly touched at center. Run spatula gently around sides of pan. Cover with cooling racks; invert and remove pan. Immediately peel off waxed paper and turn cake topside up; cool completely.

Small Fancy Cakes (Petits Fours)

Follow Base Recipe (Cake will yield about 150 1-inch squares)

When cool, trim cake edges and cut cake into tiny squares, diamonds, rounds, or other fancy shapes. Use the shapes whole or split. Split shapes may be hollowed out and filled or spread with filling. (Reserve some of Chocolate Butter Frosting or Butter Cream Frosting for filling.) Remove any loose crumbs. Frost as directed in Fondant Glaze (see recipe).

Remove cakes from rack with spatula and trim glaze from bottom edges with sharp knife. Decorate cakes as desired with chocolate shot, finely chopped nuts, coconut, or candied cherries. Or force Decorating Frosting (see recipe) through cake decorator or pastry tube to form flowers, leaves, and borders.

Photo by ksedington via Twenty20
Photo by ksedington via Twenty20

French Pastries

Follow Base Recipe (Cake will yield 6 rectangles, 4 squares, 6 rounds, and 6 ovals or diamonds)

When cool, trim edges from cake and cut into pairs of 3 x 1-1/2 inch rectangles, 2-inch squares, 2-1/4-inch rounds, and 3-inch ovals or diamonds. Spread one half of shapes thinly with raspberry, strawberry, or apricot jam, and then with Chocolate Butter Frosting or Butter Cream Frosting (see recipes).

Top with remaining matching shapes. Frost sides and tops of pastries with same frosting as in center. Cover sides with flaked toasted almonds, grated pistachios, or toasted nuts.

Decorate tops of pastries with frosting swirls, chocolate curls, chocolate shot, candied cherries, flaked or chopped nuts. Additional frosting may be forced through pastry bag and tube to form borders, flowers, and leaves.

Tint small portions of Decorating Frosting (see recipe below) any desired color for decoration, or frost as directed in Fondant Glaze (recipe below).

SEE MORE: 100+ classic cake recipes: The ultimate vintage collection

Chocolate Butter Frosting

BASE RECIPE: Melt in the top of a double boiler over simmering water 6 ounces (1 pkg.) semisweet chocolate pieces 3/4 cup strong coffee beverage (dissolve 1/2 teaspoon concentrated soluble coffee in 1/4 cup hot water)

Remove from heat; blend well. Set aside to cool.

Cream together until light and fluffy:

1-1/2 cups firm unsalted butter
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Set aside.

Put into a small saucepan 3/4 cup white corn syrup. Cook to 234 F (thread stage — a small amount spins a 2-in. thread when allowed to drop from fork or spoon; remove from heat while testing). Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down crystals from sides of pan from time to time.

Meanwhile, beat until thick and lemon-colored:

4 egg yolks

Beating constantly with electric mixer or hand-rotary beater, pour the hot syrup in a steady, thin stream into beaten egg yolks.

After all the hot sirup is added, continue beating 2 to 3 minutes, or until frosting is very thick and of same consistency as the whipped butter. Cool completely.

Beat egg yolk-corn syrup mixture, about 2 tablespoons at a time, into butter mixture until just blended. Add chocolate mixture gradually; blend in.

If tightly covered, this frosting may be stored for several days in refrigerator. Enough to frost sides and tops of two 8- or 9-inch cake layers.

MORE: 20+ vintage cake mixes you don’t see anymore

Vintage petits fours - mini cakes

Butter Cream Frosting

Follow Base Recipe. Omit chocolate and coffee.

Chocolate Rolls — Mark 3-in. squares on waxed paper on baking sheet. Melt semi-sweet chocolate over hot water. Spread 1 teaspoon melted chocolate within borders of each 3-inch square. Cool at room temperature, then set in refrigerator to harden.

To roll, remove from refrigerator and loosen chocolate from paper. As chocolate softens and becomes pliable, roll it by slowly folding the waxed paper over itself, loosening the chocolate as you roll it. Chill immediately.

Chocolate Slabs — Melt semisweet chocolate over hot water, then pour onto waxed paper on baking sheet; spread to Vig- to 1/8-in. thickness. When chocolate has cooled and set, cut into slabs to fit sides of pastries or to decorate tops.

Decorating Chocolate — Melt semisweet chocolate over hot water, then cool it enough so it can be piped through deco-rating tubes. (If chocolate is too thin, stir in a bit of confectioners’ sugar.)

MORE: Delicious old-fashioned frosting recipes for homemade cakes & cupcakes

Fondant: Base recipe

A candy thermometer will be needed. Set out a large platter or marble slab. (Surface must be smooth and level.)

Mix together in a 3-qt. saucepan having a tight-fitting cover:

3 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and bring mixture to boiling. Cover saucepan and boil mixture gently 5 minutes. Uncover and put candy thermometer in place. Continue cooking without stirring.

During cooking, wash sugar crystals from sides of saucepan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cook until temperature reaches 238°F (soft-ball stage — a small amount forms a soft ball in very cold water; it flattens when removed from water; remove from heat while testing).

Remove syrup from heat; remove candy thermometer. Wipe the platter or slab with a damp cloth. Immediately pour syrup onto the platter or slab; keep pan close to platter or slab while pouring and do not scrape pan. Without stirring, cool to lukewarm (about 110°F) or until just cool enough to hold platter on palm of hand.

Pour onto the cooled syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract With a wide spatula or wooden spoon, work syrup in circles from edges to center until white and creamy. Pile into a mound, cover with a bowl, and allow to rest 20 to 30 minutes.

With hands, work Fondant (with a kneading motion) until soft and smooth. Ripen for 24 hours in a tightly covered jar.

Makes about 1-1/4 pounds fondant

Photo by zelik via Twenty20
Photo by zelik via Twenty20

Fondant Glaze

Follow Base Recipe. Put ripened Fondant in double-boiler top. Set over simmering water. Stirring constantly, melt Fondant, heating to 130°F (no higher temperature). Blend in, to taste, any desired flavoring.

To tint, blend in 1 or 2 drops food coloring. If Fondant is not thin enough to pour over Small Fancy Cakes, add, one teaspoon at a time, and stir in hot water until Fondant is of pouring consistency.

Frost Small Fancy Cakes by quickly pouring melted Fondant over the cakes set on a rack over a tray lined with waxed paper. Collect dripped Fondant from tray; re-melt and use again, repeating the process until Small Fancy Cakes are completely coated.

ALSO TRY: How to make a perfect old-fashioned spice cake

Chocolate Fondant Glaze

Follow Base Recipe. When melting Fondant, add 4 sq. (4 oz.) unsweetened chocolate cut in pieces. When temperature reaches 130°F (no higher temperature), stir in, 1 tablespoon at a time, hot water (about 4 tablespoons) until thin enough to pour.

Decorating Frosting

Cream together until butter is softened

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend in thoroughly, in order:

1-1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon warm cream

Tint to desired color with about 1 drop food coloring. Use for decorating French Pastries. About 1-1/2 cups frosting.

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