A Cake Mixture With Many Possibilities--"Add Water and Bake"
LAYER cakes, cup cakes, drop cookies and cottage puddings come out of Aunt Jemima's latest creation. This product contains flour, sugar, shortening, powdered skim milk, baking powder and salt. all the cook needs is water to make a batter. In the Institute we used one and one-eighth cupfuls to a package, which is more than the directions call for. This made a simple, plain cake, which is best eaten as a cottage pudding or covered with a good frosting. One package (three and two-third cupfuls sifted) is sufficient for the usual cake, at about 16 cents.
One or two eggs added to the batter, decreasing the amount of water by a couple tablespoonfuls, makes a richer cake, which browns beautifully, and such ingredients as coconut, nuts, chocolate and spices give delightful variations. Any frosting improves the cake, whether baked in layers or in muffin pans as cup cakes. Do not stint the flavoring in either cake or frosting. Almond in the cake and chocolate frosting are an excellent combination. Delicious apple cake and fruit puddings are produced from this mixture when combined with the fruit and baked in a deep cake pan--easy desserts which are quick to make and good to eat.
How It Analyzed
The flour shows an analysis of 5.7 per cent protein, 11.6 fat, 26.9 sugar and 2.5 per cent total minerals. The 2.2 per cent milk sugar represents a little over a half pint of skimmed milk to the package. The baking powder content is slightly higher than in the cakes made at home, but not excessive for a packaged product, which must stand shipping and storage and cannot carry egg easily.
The product in question is "Aunt Jemima Company Cake." I couldn't find any links to the company cake online…just lots of pancake ads that are cute until you get to the creepy racist stereotypes.
--El Paso Herald, December 6, 1918
The same page also has references to "Muffin Makins" (an instant muffin mix) and "Flako" (an instant pie crust) as additional convenience flours.
The busy housewife and business woman alike (shall we include the bachelor who sometimes likes to play at cooking in his apartment) find in these flours a key to variety that requires but little skill or time in the turning." For the "unskilled laborer" gets expert assistance through these mixtures….The Institute does not for a moment advocate emergency cooking as a regular procedure, but it finds a useful and legitimate place for such well prepared products in short-cut cookery.
--New York Tribune, April 23, 1922
Anyway, this was all news to me, since Bisquick's official site certainly implies it's a revolutionary baking mix. Even more astoundingly, Aunt Jemima's official site claims its Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix came out in 1957 and its "Just Add Water" version came out in 1970. Yet the "just add water" pancake mix was EVERYWHERE by 1918 and probably earlier. The fine print in the ad above even notes you can use it for waffles! The Food Company Cookbooks has a good writeup on Aunt Jemima and an even better writeup on Jenny Wren Flour, another precursor to Bisquick.