Homemade Syrups and ingredient replacements


How many times in the middle of a recipe have you reached into the pantry only to find the one ingredient you’re out of is the one you need? If you’re like me, it happens all the time because I bake so much.

In the days when going to the store meant going to your stable to retrieve your horse or mule, taking the creature to the carriage barn,  hitching them to your buggy or wagon then making the miles long trip into town, what did a person do if they needed say, a cup of buttermilk and had none? Simple, they made their own right there from scratch.

Many home recipe’s for basic baking and cooking ingredients have long been abandoned and forgotten. Not in my house though. I rarely buy the store bought stuff. If you look in my spice cupboard you’ll see plenty of name brand ingredient containers inside. The difference is that inside those containers are for the most part filled with my homemade replacements.  Just out of curiosity, have you ever wondered what you would do if there were a disaster of some sort and stores were unavailable? It happened down here a few years back. A hurricane completely wiped our electrical system out. For 3-4 weeks, no store was open. If you had to buy food, you needed to travel quite a ways to find an open store then fight the long lines just to work your way to the stores nearly bare shelves. I am always prepared, not because I’m a “Prepper” but because I’m a “Scratcher”! (someone who cooks from scratch). Therefore I always have a bulk amount of basic food stuff. Everyone should know how to cook from scratch. Not being able to cook from scratch is enslaving yourself to the prepared food industry.

Here is a short list of ingredient items that you can make on the spur of the moment if you find yourself looking into an empty container of your needed ingredient.

Homemade powdered sugar.

Put 1 cup granulated sugar (some stores sell fine granulated) and 1 rounded tablespoon of cornstarch into the blender and process it at medium speed. Whirl it a while, turn it off, push down the sugar from sides of container, give it another whirl until it is a fine sugar that can be used in frostings.

Quick Buttermilk

4 1/2 teaspoons white vinigar, or fresh lemon juice and 1 cup milk

Place the vinegar in a glass-measuring cup, and add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid. Stir to combine and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes (The mixture will begin to curdle). Use as needed.


Make your own Vanilla

Split 4 vanilla beans end-to-end with a sharp knife. Add these to 2 cups of High Quality Vodka or neutral flavored grain alcohol of your choice, seal the jar, shake lightly. Place the Jar in a cool, dark spot for 8-weeks

Egg replacement

The Ratio to replace 1 egg in a recipe is as follows:

1 egg- 1/4 cup applesauce PLUS 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 egg- 1/2 cup applesauce Plus 1 teaspoon Baking Powder etc. etc. etc

Cake Flour

Cake flour is lower in gluten than even All purpose flour is. The lower the gluten the less stretchy it is. You want cake to be spongy, not stretchy! Lilly White is a good Southern wheat flour that has about the lowest of all gluten content in it. Thus, it makes delicious cakes and mouth watering biscuits!  To make Cake flour: combine 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons corn starch.


Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup hot tap water
2 cups sugar
2 cups non-fat dry milk powder (instant powdered milk)
6 Tbsp melted margarine

-Dump Hot water into a blender. Add the sugar, dry milk powder and melted margarine. Put the lid on the blender and whirl it around for a full minute. The mix starts out thin, but thickens within an hour.

Sour Cream
2 cups light cream
2 Tbsp buttermilk
-Combine cream with buttermilk in hot, clean glass jar with a lid.
Cover tightly and shake gently to thoroughly mix.
Let stand in a warm place till thickened (24-48 hours). Refrigerate. Stir before serving.


2 egg yolks (always use a pasteurized eggs for mayonnaise as it’s raw) add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, then ½ cup of oil and ½ teaspoon of salt

Separate the two egg yolks and save the whites for other recipes in the refrigerator. Add the lemon juice or vinegar to the egg yokes and use a wisk or an electric mixer (I use mine with a whisk attachment on it) to beat them until well blended. Slowly, and I mean slowly, add oil in very small (drops) amounts until mixture beings to thicken (this is called emulsification). Add more oil until it reaches the consistency you desire. Never just dump in the oil, it’ll ruin it. Continue to beat ingredients and add the salt. Add more vinegar or lemon juice if you desire but this recipe is about right the first time.

If you want to make Salad Dressing out of your mayonnaise, just add a  small amount of paprika, powdered sugar and garlic powder to taste.

Dough Enhancer (professional bakeries add this to achieve the properties of  ‘store bought’ bread.)

1/3 cup lecithin granules

1 tsp vitamin C powder

1 tsp ginger, ground

1 cup of powdered milk

1 tsp salt

1 Tbl sugar

1/3 cup of vital wheat gluten

Add 1 heaping Tbl to each loaf of bread mix
Mix all ingredients and store in tightly closed glass jar.
Add to other dry ingredients in equal amounts as the yeast.

Cake Flour

(used in non yeast baking recipes)
All Purpose Flour
-For every (1) cup of all purpose flour (remove 2 Tbsp of flour) and add 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch in its place to = 1 cup of cake flour. To ensure they are completely mixed, combine the flour and cornstarch and run them through a sifter into a container.

Double Acting Baking Powder

To make 1 teaspoon of Dbl acting baking powder;
1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

 Coffee Concentrate Syrup

(for baking)
2 cups VERY strong coffee
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In a small saucepan heat coffee just to simmering. Add remaining ingredients & simmer 8 minutes, stirring until sugar dissolves; cool before using.

Pancake Syrup;

1 3/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar (see recipe below for homemade)
1 c. water

Combine and bring to a boil. ( 230 degrees)Cover and cook 3 minutes. Cool slightly. Add:

1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. maple flavoring

Stir and let cool. Pour into jar with lid.  Makes about 14 ounces.

*Brown sugar recipe;

for each cup of sugar use:

1 cup of sugar

1 Tablespoon of Molasses

Blend together using a small bowl and fork and place in plastic container with a tight sealing lid.

Simple Syrup, (Karo Syrup)

2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to liquefy sugar. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 3 minutes. This will get any sugar crystals off the sides of the pan. Uncover and simmer, stirring often, until it reaches the soft ball stage (230 degrees). Cool and store in a glass  container at room temperature. Makes about 2 cups.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

makes 2 1/2 cups

3/4 cup hot water

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (see recipe)

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use dark for a richer taste)

1/2 teaspoon instant espresso coffee or just instant coffee (Coffee is optional but recommended, for richer taste I use espresso)

Pinch of kosher salt

1 Tablespoon light corn syrup (see recipe)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugars to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and whisk in the cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt, and corn syrup, whisking until all of the solids have dissolved.  Allow the mixture to simmer until it has slightly reduced and thickened whisking it frequently( 5-10 minutes.) The longer you cook it the thicker it becomes. At 10 minutes mine becomes like a hot chocolate fudge sundae syrup, at five minutes  more like a pourable chocolate syrup. Remove from the heat and only then stir in the vanilla. Let it cool down enough to put it into a jar with a lid. Refrigerate. If it becomes too thick in the fridge, just microwave it for a short time.

I would recommend that you print these and keep them somewhere in case you ever run short or just want to make a good tasting syrup!   JW

Old time Christmas dessert receipt (recipe)

Get ready folks, Christmas is just around the corner and the ghost of Christmas recipe past is rattling it’s chains!

Are you really thinking of going Scrooge on your family? Have you already bought some old dried up prefabricated dessert from your local Piggly Wiggly? Is this what you really want to serve to your family this Christmas? No? Then read on!

Now this is a dessert fit for your family this Holiday Season!

Real, honest to goodness post Civil War era old time Ginger bread with Lemon sauce poured over it. It’s a forgotten dessert in many homes but one that once you taste this desert, will reappear year after year on your Holiday table. Why it’s so good, you’ll start your own Holiday tradition.

christmas gingerbread

This recipe is posted verbatim from a very old cookbook I own and shelve in my collectors case. The recipe is pretty simple to follow. I put modern equivalents in parenthesis (  ).

Recipe Ingredients-cake (Recipe’s were actually called cooking or baking receipts then, not recipes)

1/2 cup of purified baking lard. Do not use frying lard. (vegetable shortening works great)

1 cup of white sugar (Granulated)

2 eggs

1/2 cup of Sorghum (Mollassas)

1 cup of boiling Water

2 Lg. cups of sifted Wheat Flour (All purpose will do just fine)

2 teaspoons of Saleratus (Baking soda)

1 teaspoon of fine ground up Ginger

1 teaspoon of  fine ground up Cinnamon

1 teaspoon of fine ground up Nutmeg

pinch of salt  (1/8th teaspoon, some say 1/16th but I use 1/8th. Amount thumb and index finger could pinch)


Cream 1/2 cup of Lard (Shortening)  and 1 c. of Sugar, add 2 well beaten Eggs. Add 1/2 c. Sorghum (molasses) and 1 c. boiling Water. Add after sifting together, 2 Lg. c. Flour, 2 tsp. Saleratus (baking soda), 1 tsp Ginger, 1 tsp Cinnamon, 1 tsp Nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Pour the mix into a rectangular (9×13) baking tin.  Bake in slow to moderate oven ( 300 degrees) for 20 to 30 minutes. Check with broom stick straw (toothpick works and I’m sure it’s cleaner) in center for doneness after 20 minutes.

Ingredients- Lemon Sauce

Mix 1/2 c. sugar and 1 Tbl. corn starch or ( 2 Tbl. flour) and a pinch of salt. Add 1 c. of boiling water gradually. Boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 Tbl. butter and 2 Tbl. of squeezed lemon juice. Stir and pour hot over Gingerbread cake and serve.

This old recipe will make a great treat dessert for your family and it beats the heck out making a Fruit cake!

PS. Save this recipe to hand down to your kids. It’s been handed down since before the turn of the last Century so keep it going!