How you doin’? Growing up in Southern California I remember the blue-windmill designed buildings that were known as Van de Kamp's Holland Dutch Bakeries. Van de Kamp’s was founded in 1915 as a Los Angeles potato chip stand by Theodore J. Van de Kamp and Lawrence L. Frank, all recent transplants from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The first stand was operated from a mere eight foot frontage at 236 ½ South Spring Street next to the Saddle Rock Café—the very heart of Los Angeles at the time.
They expanded the business to baked goods and by the mid-1950s had evolved into a regional bakery/restaurant chain. At the company’s height, 320 Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakeries dotted the West Coast from California to Washington selling some of the most innovative and delicious baked goods. There were several “signature” foods that I still long for today—Van de Kamp’s Chocolate Cake and Sugar Crisps.
In 1930 the company built a large bakery and administrative offices to support its growth in Glassell Park, Los Angeles. The Van de Kamp Bakery Building was designed by New York architect J. Edwin Hopkins. The company's trademark blue windmills featured on their bakery store signs and atop their chain of famous restaurants that were known throughout the region. Its slogan was to capitalize on the association with Dutch cleanliness and freshness: "Made Clean, Kept Clean, Sold Clean."
One of my Van de Kamp favorites was their Dutch Apple Slab… the easiest Dutch Apple pie-like dessert ever made. This is THE traditional “Dutch Treat” for birthdays or holidays. Preparation is very quick and you really can't go wrong! Add a cup of rum-soaked raisins to apples if desired.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 45 to 50 minutes
Yield: 12 to 16 servings (1-9-inch springform pan)
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
8 large tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced
ChefSecret: If desired, sprinkle a 1/4 cup of granulated sugar over the top of the dough to create a crunchy, sugary top crust.
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: “While many of us are staying around the house to be safe, every time you talk to your wife your mind should remember that this conversation will be recorded for training and quality purposes.”
Long ago in a faraway place… I worked with the Frank and Van de Kamp families as the Design and Marketing Director at Lawry’s Foods just up the street from the Fletcher Street Van de Kamp’s Bakery. I got access to some of the best baking recipes and this is one of them.
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