Along similar lines, last week I was looking for baked empanada recipes. Every single one I came across walked you through making the dough and the filling, then how to stuff and fold them and ended with "and bake until golden brown." No temperature, no time, just bake!
You just described all the family recipes. If asked, grandma and the aunts explain that they all had different ovens, some hotter than others but they all knew the temperature to bake a cake on their own oven. *sigh*
I helped a friend compile a family cookbook years back. All of her grandmother's recipes called for something on the order of "bake in a medium oven until done." That was state of the art, back in the day.
My favorite cookbook has a copyright of 1893. The temperatures are "hot", "very hot", "warm", etc. The recipes are to die for, but figuring out the temperatures took me some time.
Because in the days of wood-burning cookstoves, there were no oven temperature controls/thermostats/thermometers. You learned to judge temperature by opening the oven door and sticking your hand in. It was a matter of practice, so in most cases a young girl started by helping her mother. By the time she married, she knew that an oven that felt just so
was a "medium" oven (about 350o
Most baked goods are just not that picky
. If your recipe calls for a 400o
oven for 10 minutes, your cookies will bake just fine at 375 for 15 minutes. Any recipe that calls for a generic temperature like 'hot' that does not go on to give a temperature number I would start with the oven at 375o
F (UK gas mark 5) and adjust my cooking time as necessary.