Baking Yesteryear by B. Dylan Hollis, a review

I decided to keep going with my reviews of new(ish) cookbooks.  Obviously, I’m still rolling through those published in 2023.   I’m not sure the featured book today made any “best of” lists, but it should have.  I laughed out loud from page one.

I love nostalgia and I love retro and I love a good hilarious read.  Roll this all up in one cookbook and you had me at “Tomato Soup Cake.”

About this book:

A decade-by-decade cookbook that highlights the best (and a few of the worst) baking recipes from the 20th century

Friends of baking, are you sick and tired of making the same recipes again and again? Then look no further than this baking blast from the past, as B. Dylan Hollis highlights the most unique tasty treats of yesteryear.

Travel back in time on a delicious decade-by-decade jaunt as Dylan shows you how to bake vintage forgotten greats. With a big pinch of fun and a full cup of humor, you’ll be baking everything from Chocolate Potato Cake from the 1910s to Avocado Pie from the 1960s.

Dylan has baked hundreds of recipes from countless antique cookbooks and selected only the best for this bakebook, sharing the shining stars from each decade. And because some of the recipes Dylan shares on his wildly popular social media channels are spectacular failures, he’s thrown in a few of the most disastrously strange recipes for you to try if you dare.

Baking Yesteryear contains 101 expertly curated recipes that will take you on a delicious journey through the past. With a larger-than-life personality and comedic puns galore, baking with Dylan never gets old. We’ll leave that to the recipes.

About the author:

B. Dylan Hollis is a Bermudian musician and social media personality, particularly well known for a series of Tik Tok videos where he makes baked goods from vintage cookbooks.

What I thought…

Hollis collects “the wild, the wacky, and the wonderful” (11) from those quaint community cookbook gems.  Hollis is a lover of old things and he learned baking and cooking out of his vintage collected cookbooks.  (Again, this is another book created from the boredom of the pandemic.)   I wonder if those church, knitting circles, and civic group ladies would appreciate his TikTok videos that inspired this book and his hilarious commentary that runs throughout?

I am also a lover of old things and I have countless (because I’m afraid to count them) Junior League cookbooks.  While they might be a bit more elevated than those churchy group books, they’re probably not as colorful.

Hollis starts at the beginning of the last century.  He credits Fannie Farmer with standardizing recipes.  Before her time as he acknowledges, there were measurements like “size of a walnut” and equally vague “suitable amount of flour” (27).  From there he takes us on a wild ride and ends with the culinary conundrum that was the 1980s.

Growing up, the cookbooks like Hollis references were the only ones we had.   We had our own church cookbook, grandmother’s quilting circle’s book, some extension homemaker ones, maybe a Betty Crocker one to round the collection out.  There was not a Gourmet cookbook in the mix.  Upon my first perusal of Baking Yesteryear I decided I would first document the recipes that I know were baked in the family kitchen and that I had at least eaten.

  • Pork Cake (only I’m familiar with one called Sausage Cake)
  • Blackberry Jam Cake
  • Wacky Cake
  • Mock Apple Pie
  • Dream Bars
  • Sauerkraut Cake
  • Tomato Soup Cake
  • Mayonnaise Cake
  • Cathedral Cookies (Do they even make Day-Glo colored mini marshmallows anymore?)
  • Cowboy Cookies
  • Haystacks
  • Hello Dollies (LOVE THESE)
  • Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes (I’m pretty sure I remember these at my cousin’s 6th birthday party.  I would have been five.)
  • Jell-O Poke Cake
  • The Robert Redford Cake (Only we knew it by another name…one that I can’t remember.)
  • Monster Cookies
  • Watergate Cake

Yep.  I have made a large portion of these recipes and I have eaten at least a bit of every single one listed above.

You must read the hednote to “Candle Salad” (160).  His introduction to this deconstructed fruit salad is hilarious.   (If you’ve never seen a “Candle Salad,” it’s a ring of pineapple with a vertical piece of banana thrusting upward, topped by whipped cream and a maraschino cherry.)  Imagine Hollis’ commentary here.  (The same is true with other recipes like “Liquor Balls” on the previous page.)

His final “Worst of the Worst” recipes are truly bad.  There’s Jellied Meatloaf (cringe worthy) and SpaghettiOs Jell-O Ring (with cocktail wieners in the center).  That latter one photographs fabulously though.  I DO want to try the Pickle Cheesecake recipe.  I think it would be a marvelous appetizer with it’s pretzel crust and cream cheese, sour cream, goat cheese and Parmesan combo.

While this book is kitschy and retro, some of the recipes definitely do need revisited and returned to our baking rotations.   If you like wry (and sometimes ribald) humor, you will definitely want to pick up this book.  To catch all the naughty puns and double-entendres, make sure you read this one cover to cover.

I’m inking up with Foodies Read for January.

6 comments to Baking Yesteryear by B. Dylan Hollis, a review

  • Sounds like a fun cookbook. I have one with recipes from the backs of boxes and cans and have made several of the same recipes you have.

    • To clarify, I haven’t eaten or made these in MANY years. 🙂 But I want to revisit some. I’m serious about that pickle cheese cake, too.

  • mae

    I look forward to your reports of what you try from this book.
    When I moved on from that retro style of baking and cooking, I loved the results. I just don’t share a lot of the nostalgia for those pre-Julia-Child recipes! Now I guess Julia Child recipes are kind of retro too. Time marches on!
    best, mae at

  • I am a huge Dylan fan and have been watching his YouTube channels for yonks. I’ve even made his chocolate mayo cake! that spaghetti jelly thing looks abysmal tho.

  • I love Dylan’s videos too! I was given the cookbook for Christmas but I haven’t made anything from it yet!