I've been curious about vanity cakes for years. In the 70's I tried making them from the Little House Cookbook, and from recipes printed on postcards I ordered from either DeSmet or Mansfield. Everytime I tried, all I got were heavy small round fried cakes, not hollow. I've had an idea-thinking of Hostess fried apple and cherry pies-could vanity cakes have been rolled out and the two halves pinched with a fork at the edges? Then dropped into hot fat? That would puff, and be hollow, like a Hostess pie wih no fruit inside. Maybe the idea was born during hard times whe there was no fruit. I haven't tried this crimping two halves and frying, but betcha I'm right !
I'm on the other end of the house so I can't check, but in "I remember Laura" Stephen Hines has several chapters on some recipes and trying to adapt them to modern ingredients and cooking methods. But I believe he says that the result is much more like a hush puppy than a delicate sweet cake.
So this is how it feels to be crazy - it's just using your head to be losing your mind
A hush puppy is exactly like what I got, but of course I made them with "beaten eggs and white flour". Hmmm...I still think that an "empty Hostess pie" is what vanity cakes were. Nothing else would be hollow.