Monday, September 19, 2011

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake Reminds Me of Home-Delivered Foods; When 'Dugan' Was an Eagerly Awaited Envoy From the City

The Dugan delivery truck.
When I was about 4 years old, my family moved from Astoria, Queens (New York) to Lindenhurst, Long Island. Amazingly, I remember many details about the move and where we used to live but I suppose most striking was the contrast between the 'country-like' settimg we found ourselves in with stores and neighbors not as numerous as they were in our former city neighborhood.

Back then, delivery men transporting all kinds of produce were a daily part of life in the suburbs. In the city, we would walk to the corner to get milk, cake and groceries but on Long Island we discovered there were milkmen who delivered dairy products right to your door! Our milk came from Sagtikos Farms located in Bay Shore, Long Island. A silver box had a permanent spot on our front doorstep and magically, fresh milk, eggs and other products appeared. I'm sure my mother ordered these things but to us it was a phenomenon unlike anything we'd ever seen! Not very much information exists about the Sagtikos Farms  but it was probably part of Sagtikos Manor, a historical home located on Montauk Highway in Bay Shore, still there today. I found some photos of antique glass milk bottles from the company online and a mention on a website of diver named Adam Grohman who discovered one of the bottles in the waters off Long Island:
Over the past few weeks, I have come across some neat finds while diving both the South and North Shores of Long Island. My first find of interest is a "Sagtikos Farm" milk bottle. It is a full size glass milk bottle with embossed writing. Additional lettering reads as follows: Long Island Est. 1692 (on the Front) Store Deposit 5 Cents Deposit Bottle - One Quart Liquid. (on the Back) I have done some preliminary research, but I have only found a slogan the company used back in the 1950's "Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be Gay...Drink Sagitkos All the Day!"
I did find out that the name 'Saktikos' is a Native American word meaning "head of the hissing snake" and is derived from the sound of a small stream that flows through the neck of land upon which the Manor lies. And we were happy, healthy and gay back in those early days out on Long Island!

Sagtikos Manor, Bay Shore, Long Island.
Then there was the bread and cake man. 

Our bread delivery came from a company called Dugans. Not fully understanding that he was part of a larger entity, we called our delivery man Dugan and of course became quite enamored of him because he not only delivered bread but oftentimes cakes and cookies. Dugan's started in Brooklyn in 1878 when David H. Dugan started a business with a push-cart selling breads and cakes. A year later he opened up a home baking store with his brother and business thrived. Brooklyn was country-like in the 1800s and the Dugans were delivering fresh baked goods six days a week eventually expanding to many horse and wagons. 
Our 700 horses averaged about 20 miles a day and served about 10,000 customers. By the early nineteen-thirties, the last or the horses went to pasture and the trucks took over pushing the routes far and deep into New York, especially Long Island, suburban New Jersey, parts of Pennsylvania, much of Connecticut and bits of Massachusetts.
Dugan's lasted until October of 1966. For us, our relationship with 'Dugan' probably ended when my mother learned to drive and could get to the the A&P in our town. Dairy and baked goods delivery men are part of the past but personal food services are making a comeback with grocery deliveries being offered by most supermarkets to today's busy working families and shut-ins. 

Entenmann's delivery was by horse and carriage.
There were other companies like this to be sure: Ebingers (founded 1898) in Brooklyn, Horn & Hardarts (noted more for their Automats, founded in 1902), Holtermann's (founded 1878) on Staten Island and Entenmanns, one of the few surviving bakeries from back in the day. Interestingly, all were German-born bakers.

William Entenmann was educated in baking from his father in the family business in Stuttgart, Germany. In 1898 he and his family moved to America with the dream of being an entrepreneur and after some training here in the United States, started his own bakery business in Brooklyn, New York. Like the aforementioned Dugan's, William delivered the bread door-to-door by horse and carriage, later deciding to sell to local markets. Today, the Entenmann's brand has over 100 baked goods and is currently owned by Bimbo Bakeries USA. Seriously!

Entenmanns brand is legion in our family although my husband is a big fan of the Ebinger's Blackout Cake, but another favorite cake is a chocolate-chip loaf cake that I remember from Dugan and more recently, Entenmanns. I had some sour cream left over from another recipe and decided to make sour-cream chocolate chip cake reminiscent of the 'delivered' variety. This comes close and is easy to make.

Sour-Cream Chocolate Chip Cake
Ingredients2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10- to 12-cup tube pan; dust with flour
  • Sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until completely blended. Beat in eggs and then sour cream until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Slowly add the sifted dry ingredients, making certain to scrape the sides of the bowl into the mixture. Stir in the cinnamon and vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips. Mix until batter is well blended.
  • Pour the batter into the pan, spread evenly, and bake 35-40 minutes. (mine took a bit longer to cook, FYI) To test that the cake is done, insert a tester into the center. If the cake is done, it will come out clean, without any batter sticking to it.
  • Cool the cake for at least 20 minutes in the pan. Slide a thin knife around the perimeter and center to make sure the cake is separated from the pan before removing. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to decorate.

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