From 1950: Butterscotch Squares


I am thirty years old today. THIRTY. That’s weird to say. I don’t feel thirty. I don’t think I’ve felt like I’ve aged at all in a very long time. Twenty-one is probably the last big birthday you celebrate once you become an adult. So, it’s really just another day to me. But, since I typically write about history and today has a theme to it for me, let’s talk about my birthdays of the past!

Since I was four years old, I’ve had to share my birthday. My brother, despite being four years younger than me, was born two days before my birthday. So, from what I can hazily remember, my fourth birthday party was ruined. And, ever since then, my parents celebrated our birthdays together.

When we were little, our birthdays were a big to-do. My parents threw a big party, filled the garage with folding tables covered in that plastic table cloth stuff that comes on a roll, and had a picnic. For some reason, the only memory I retained from these days would be the sight of one of my uncles sitting at one of the tables eating raw onions from a bowl of hamburger toppings. No idea why, but thanks for those parties, mum and dad – I clearly got a lot out of them!

As we got older, the parties became smaller and more in-tune with our interests. From the age of nine-ish on, my half of the birthday party typically had some type of horse theme to it. And, beginning around that time, too, my brother and I decided that we didn’t like birthday cake, so we began getting birthday pies. There was always one for each of us, and I think they were typically chocolate cream and lemon meringue. I always ate the chocolate, so I don’t recall the second flavor. I think it was just whatever the person tasked with bringing the pies preferred.

You know what… I’m not going to bore you with personal history anymore. No one likes to watch home movies, and that’s what I’m doing to you. In any case, happy birthday to me (and my brother)!

So, what are we cooking? Birthday butterscotch squares from Song of the Kettle published in 1950.



Here are our ingredients: Butter (salted), brown sugar, one egg, flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla extract.


Step 1: Melt one stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. I used salted butter because I think it has a better flavor to it than unsalted butter. You just want to melt the butter – don’t let it start bubbling.


Step 2: While your butter is melting, add a packed cup of brown sugar to a mixing bowl along with one egg.


Step 3: Cream them together with an electric mixer.


Step 4: Once they’re creamed together, your butter should be melted. Pour it into the sugar and egg and beat it to combine.


Step 5: Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. I halved the salt measurement since I’m using salted butter. Add the vanilla, as well, and then beat everything together.


Step 6: Pour the batter into a buttered baking dish. I wiped the leftover butter out of my saucepan I used to melt the stick with a paper towel and then just rubbed the buttered paper towel over the baking dish.


Step 7: Bake the batter in a 300 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Final step: Let the squares cool before cutting them and serving. They will be a little gooey, so I used a spatula to get them out of the pan.

Like I said, around the age of nine, I decided I didn’t care for birthday cake. I still don’t. I don’t know what it is, but birthday cake has a flavor all of its own. The icing has a… sharpness to it? Maybe it’s just the slight burn the smoke leaves from the candles. Whatever. In any case, these butterscotch squares were the perfect substitute. They were the ideal way to say, “Happy Birthday! Here’s some sugar. Now, go take on your third decade of life!”

From 1950: Butterscotch Squares

  • Servings: Makes one 8x8 pan
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 1 stick salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Butter an 8×8″ baking dish.
  2. Cream together the brown sugar and the egg with an electric mixer.
  3. Beat in the melted butter, then add the flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla and mix to combine.
  4. Pour the batter into the baking dish and spread out level.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool before cutting.


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