Historic Everyday Eats – Apple Jelly

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Welcome back to another installment of Historic Everyday Eats! This time, I chose to delve into a kind of cooking with which I have very little experience (aka no experience): jelly making! The recipe for apple jelly that I chose to follow came from the same cookbook I featured in my last post, โ€œThe Complete Confectioner, Pastry-Cook, and Baker,โ€ published in 1846 and written by Eleanor Parkinson. I had a very interesting journey on my way to making apple jelly, and I’m excited to share it with you!

First, the recipe:
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“Take either russet pippins, or any good baking apples, pare and core them, cut them in slices into a preserving pan containing sufficient water to cover them; then put them on the fire, and boil them until they are reduced to a mash. Put it into a hair sieve, that the water may drain off, which you receive in a basin or pan; then filter it through a flannel bag. To every pint of filtered juice add one pound of loaf sugar, clarify, and boil it to the ball. Mix the juice with it, and boil until it jellies, stir it with a spatula or wooden spoon, from the bottom, to prevent burning. When it is boiled enough, if you try it with your finger and thumb, as directed in sugar-boiling, a string may be drawn similar to the small pearl: it may also be dropped on a cold plate; if it soon sets, it is done. Take off the scum which rises on the top. This is in general used for pouring over preserved wet fruits. This jelly may be coloured red with prepared cochineal.”

Now, let’s take a look at what the author means by “boil it to the ball” and her reference to sugar-boiling. Earlier in the book, she discussed the candy making process, which means boiling sugar to different stages. Her description for “The Ball” is below:IMG_0141

“Provide a jug of clean cold water, and a piece of round stick. First dip in the water, then in the sugar, and again in the water;* take off the sugar which has adhered to it, and endeavor to roll it into a ball between the finger and the thumb in the water: when this can be done, it has attained the desired degree. If it forms a large hard ball which will bite hard and adhere to the teeth when eaten, it is then termed large ball, et contra.”

“*This should be performed as speedily as possible.”

The above description means that you take a scoop of boiling sugar out of the pot, place it in cold water, and then manipulate it into a ball shape with your fingers to see if it will keep its shape. DO NOT do this without dipping the sugar in cold water, or you will suffer unimaginably painful burns!

 

As you can tell, this recipe is very light on ingredients and is more about technique, which is why it took more than one attempt for me to get it right! Let’s go through attempt one.

First, the ingredients:
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Sugar and apples (and water!). For my first attempt, I used:
2.7 pounds of honey crisp apples (not russet pippins, but still a good baking apple!)
2 pounds of sugar
6 cups of filtered water (I used filtered so that the end product would taste as pure as possible!)

To make the apple jelly, I first peeled and cored the apples and then placed them all in a large Dutch oven.


A quick note about using the Dutch oven: when making candies or jellies, it’s important to use tools that are nonreactive so they will not affect the acidity level of the fruit or the production of pectin (the compound in the fruit that will actually make it jelly). This is also why the recipe calls for using a wooden spoon and why I used one as well for stirring!

I then covered the apples with 6 cups of water, which ended up being way too much, I discovered later. After boiling the apples for 30 minutes, I drained them in a sieve lined with cheese cloth.

After draining the apples and smashing them with a spoon to extract as much juice as possible, I had 4 cups (or 2 pints) of juice. I added this juice back to my Dutch oven and added 2 pounds of sugar (by weight). This would be approximately 4 cups of sugar.

I brought this mixture to a boil and used a candy thermometer to measure the temperature.

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Boiling to the right temperature is where many mistakes can come into play (and where they did for me). Since the recipe above stated to “boil to the ball,” I went by the “soft ball” temperature mark on the thermometer, which was 230 degrees. It took a very long time (probably another 30 minutes of boiling) to get the mixture to that point because it there was so much water in this mix. (The more water there is, the longer it has to boil to release steam and become more of a syrup/candy mixture.)

I wanted to try to follow this recipe as closely as I could though, even though it said both to “boil to the ball” and then “boil until it jellies,” which I took to mean the same thing. (It’s not.) I boiled this mixture to 230 degrees and then transferred it to a VERY clean mason jar with a new lid and band.

It looked pretty in the jar and definitely seemed to be jelly-like when I poured it initially! I let it cool to room temperature on the counter and then placed it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, my husband and I tested it.

This was not my finest culinary moment. The mixture was way too hard, and I had to microwave it to get it to come out of the jar at all. When I did, it came out in sticky ropes. It was definitely more of a candy than a jelly – maybe even an apple honey. It tasted good, but there was no way you could easily spread this on a biscuit or a sandwich. I was disappointed, but I did still manage to use some of it as a sugar replacement in a batch of orange cranberry cookies that I then took to work and everyone loved (so not a total loss)!

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Consolation cookies

 

I waited a week, did some research with modern recipes for jelly, and gave it another go. This time, my ingredients were the same but in smaller amounts:

1.7 pounds of honey crisp apples
1 pound of sugar
3 cups of filtered water

I followed all of the first steps mentioned above again: peeled and cored the apples and placed them in the Dutch oven. I put enough water into the pot to just barely cover the apples, 3 cups this time, and boiled the apples for 25 minutes. This time, the apples were much more “mashed” when I finished boiling.


I then drained the apples in cheese cloth and a sieve again, this time squeezing as much juice out of the apples (wearing a “hot hands” glove).

This time, the amount of juice that I got from the apples was 2 cups (or 1 pint). I added this to the Dutch oven and combined it with 1 pound (approximately 2 cups) of sugar. After reading many modern recipes for jelly making, I decided to boil this mixture to 220 degrees, just 10 degrees shy of soft ball stage.

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As soon as the thermometer hit 220 (after about 10 minutes of boiling this time), I turned off the heat and pour the mixture again into a very clean mason jar, topped with a new lid and band.

This mixture looked very pretty again the second time around, and I let it cool to room temperature on the counter and then placed it in the refrigerator overnight. Then all I could do was wait!

The next morning, I made biscuits from scratch and hoped for the best!

When I opened the jar of jelly, I knew I had done it this time! The mixture was easily stirred but still gelatinous, all from the natural pectin that the apples released combined with the sugar! It was glorious to behold!

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Beautiful!

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The jelly tasted very apple-y, and it looked and felt just like modern jelly, only without the preservatives and extra pectin added!

The lessons here were to not add too much water in the beginning and to only boil the mixture to 220 degrees. As for the author’s instructions to boil the mixture to the ball, I believe she may have been referring to either making a separate syrup mixture before adding the remaining apple juice to it, or she may have cut it off right before the ball stage. Either way, I was able to use the core of her recipe to make something great, even if it took a couple of tries! Since this was my first time ever trying something like this, I’m so happy it only took me twice to get it right!

Experimenting isn’t always easy, but it’s almost always worth it! Until next time, I’ll be eating apple jelly on everything! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Historic Everyday Eats – Tea Cakes

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Hello from a long-time stranger! I realized when looking back at my blog that I haven’t written a historic recipe post in over three years, which is way too long! All I can say is that for quite a long time, I didn’t have the focus I needed to give the recipes the attention they deserved, and I’m starting to get a bit of that focus back. I recently even entered a recipe of my own into the Chicago Tribune Holiday Cookie Contest, and that really inspired me to get back into my historic baking routine. I would not have even had the confidence to enter that contest without my experience in experimental baking with these old recipes, so, in my mind, it was time to get back to it!

Today, I made tea cakes from the 1846 cookbook “The Complete Confectioner, Pastry-Cook, and Baker.” I purchased a hard copy of this entire cookbook, published by the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection, a few years ago with the intent to make as many recipes as possible out of it!

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I began the journey into this cookbook with a very simple recipe for tea cakes:

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The recipe states: “Beat eight eggs into a pan with a whisk till they come to a good head–then add one pound of loaf sugar powdered–beat both together till it becomes thick and whitish–then stir in one pound of sifted flour, but do not beat it again–take a spoon in your left hand and a knife in your other–lay a sheet of paper on your tin; take up a spoonful of batter, and with your knife strike as much out of the spoon as will make a cake the size you like–see that they are about an inch apart, and make them as round as you can–bake them in a rather brisk oven till they are nicely coloured over; if they do not come off the paper easily, when cold, damp the bottom as directed in Savoy biscuits. You may vary these cakes by dropping caraway seeds, sugar, or currants, on the top, before you bake them.” (The directions for getting biscuits off of paper was to brush the paper underneath with cold water, wait five minutes, and then remove the cookies/biscuits.)

Now, let’s decipher this crazy-long, run-on sentence of a recipe!

First, the ingredients. There are only 3 in the batter: eggs, powdered sugar, and flour. Since there are so few ingredients, how you put them together really matters! Just in case I really messed up this part, I decided to cut this recipe in half for my attempt in order to avoid a huge amount of waste. I used:

4 eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour, sifted
(I determined through a little research that 1 pound of sugar and flour is roughly 4 cups each, so I cut that in half!)
Caraway seeds and granulated sugar for topping

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I use powdered sugar so often lately that I have it stored in mason jars!

 

Next, the process. I preheated my oven to 375 degrees (a little hotter than normal since this recipe called for baking in a “rather brisk oven”) and lined my baking sheets with parchment paper.

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I then started whisking the 4 whole eggs in my stand mixer with the whisk attachment. I whisked them on high speed until they looked very frothy, which took about 5 minutes. IMG_0101

 

I then added 2 cups of powdered sugar to the eggs and beat them on medium speed for another 3-4 minutes, until the mixture was thick and creamy.

 

 

Next, I sifted two cups of flour and added it to the mixture of sugar and eggs.

 

 

I folded the flour into the egg and sugar mixture with a spatula until it was just incorporated, making sure not to beat it. This helps to keep the eggs airy, letting the final cakes rise without the use of baking soda or powder.

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The mixture looks very much like a thick cake batter!

 

I then took a tablespoon measuring spoon in one hand and a butterknife in the other to make little round drops of tea cake batter on my lined baking sheets!

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The batter ended up naturally spreading out in a round shape, so I didn’t have to work too hard to get them relatively round!

 

I left some cakes bare and topped a few others with caraway seeds and regular granulated sugar.

Once the cakes went into the oven, I kept a close eye on their edges. When I saw they were getting slightly brown, I made sure to remove them! I ended up baking the batches for 10 minutes, rotating once half way through baking. They were nicely browned and risen by the end! (This recipe, cut in half, yielded 20 tea cakes for me.)

The tea cakes had an interesting texture–a combination of cake and cookie, which is fitting since that is exactly what they look like! IMG_0116

Overall, I was very happy with how they turned out. By making sure to not overmix when adding the flour right before baking, the eggs were able to make the tea cakes rise without the aid of a chemical leavener or yeast. IMG_0114

In addition to looking nice, the tea cakes were also delicious! According to my husband and official taste-tester, they are mild, not overly sweet, and excellent with the addition of caraway seeds!

Tea cakes were a beautiful and fun way to get back into the world of following historic recipes, and I plan to do more very soon, especially for the holiday season!

Historic Everyday Eats – Sunshine Cake

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Greetings to all of my fellow food and history lovers! I am sorry that it has been so long since I last posted a historic recipe, but life has gotten in the way of my food experimenting time. ๐Ÿ˜‰ To make it up to you, I have found a recipe that very well may be the best one yet. It came from an 1896 cookbook for a girls’ cooking school (titled, of course The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book), and I can’t tell you how much I loved looking through this book and finding this cake recipe.

Boston Cooking School Cookbook

Plus, the author’s name is Fannie Farmer. That makes anything she writes pure gold. From what I could tell by her introduction in the book, she had a very scientific mind and had an eye to the future of proper dietary planning and its effects on personal health. Hats off to Fannie, a natural leader and a woman ahead of her time.

Since this is my birthday week, I wanted to make a cake if I could find a suitable recipe. I found one for which I already had all of the ingredients and supplies needed, so it was the winner! The recipe for “Sunshine Cake” reads as follows:

Sunshine Cake

“Whites 10 eggs.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

Yolks 6 eggs.

1 teaspoon lemon extract.

1 cup flour.

1 teaspoon cream of tartar.

Beat whites of eggs until stiff and dry, add sugar gradually, and continue beating; then add yolks of eggs beaten until thick and lemon colored, and extract. Cut and fold in flour mixed and sifted with cream of tartar. Bake fifty minutes in a moderate oven in an angel cake pan.”

Taking a shot at making egg whites stiff and fluffy is always daunting, but you know what? If our foremothers could do it without a stand mixer, I can certainly try with all of my modern amenities! Let’s see how my sunshine cake turned out.

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The ingredients: powdered sugar, eggs, flour, lemon (or in my case, orange–because it was what I had around) extract, and cream of tartar (not photographed–totally slipped my mind)! That’s right, just five ingredients.

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First, the hard part: separating 10 eggs and beating the whites until they turned from this yellow goop…

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…into this fluffy white mountain! This was all thanks to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. I beat the whites on high for about 8-10 minutes.

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I then turned the mixer on low and gradually added the 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.

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After the sugar was incorporated, I added the yolks of 6 eggs, beaten until they were thick and “lemon colored.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I then added in my orange extract (no, it’s not lemon, but it’s still a citrus and goes along with the “sunshine” theme). The resulting mixture was light and creamy.

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I then folded in the flour and cream of tartar by hand. You don’t want to overmix at this point–the batter needs to be airy.

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The batter went into my “angel cake pan” and into a 350 degree oven.

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50 minutes later, I had a perfectly golden brown sunshine cake. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I turned the cake upside down and cooled it on a cooling rack for an hour before taking it out of the pan. (I buttered just the bottom of the angel food cake pan to help it slide out easier.)

While my cake was cooling, I contemplated a frosting. After attempting one recipe and failing (I will try it again and make it work in the future–promise!), I decided to go with a super simple recipe I found in the same cookbook called “Confectioners’ Frosting:”

confectioners frosting

“2 tablespoons boiling water.

Confectioners’ sugar.

Flavoring.

To water add enough sifted sugar to make of right consistency to spread; then add flavoring.ย Fresh fruit juice may be used in place of boiling water. This is a most satisfactory frosting, and is both easily and quickly made.”

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In fact, this frosting was very simple. I heated two tablespoons of water to boiling in the microwave, added about 2/3 of a cup of sugar, and about a teaspoon of orange extract. Voila! Easy and delicious frosting!

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I poured the frosting on the cake and let it drip down the sides. The finished Sunshine Cake with Confectioners’ Frosting looked great!

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It tasted even better–light and fluffy but oh so flavorful!

Sunshine Cake was one of my favorite recipes to make so far. But really, I have loved all of the recipes with which I’ve experimented over these months, whether they turned out great or were duds. That’s just part of the process. This book said it best with this quote in its front pages:

Cookery means...

Cookery means all of that and so much more to me. How I love it so.

Historic Everyday Eats – Jumbles

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Hello, friends! It is time once again to delve into the world of historic recipes. This week, I was lucky enough to come across a tasty recipe for some little treats in a cookbook published in 1832 titledย Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeatsย (a book I have used before in my historic eats endeavors). This recipe was for baked goods called jumbles, which don’t exactly sound too appealing but are indeed delicious!

The recipe for “Jumbles” reads as follows:

Jumbles

“Three eggs.
Half a pound of flour, sifted.
Half a pound of butter.
Half a pound of powdered loaf-sugar.
A table-spoonful of rose-water.
A nutmeg grated.
A tea-spoonful of mixed mace and cinnamon.

Stir the sugar and butter to cream. Beat the eggs very light. Throw them, all at once, into the pan of flour. Put in, at once, the butter and sugar, and then add the spice and rose-water. If you have no rose-water, substitute six or seven drops of strong essence of lemon, or more if the essence is weak. Stir the whole very hard, with a knife.

Spread some flour on your paste-board, and flour your hands well. Take up with your knife, a portion of the dough, and lay it on the board. Roll it lightly with your hands, into long thin rolls, which must be cut into equal lengths, curled up into rings, and laid gently into an iron or tin pan, buttered, not too close to each other, as they spread in baking. Bake them in a quick oven about five minutes, and grate loaf-sugar over them when cool.”

Most of the ingredients listed are typical in our kitchens today with the exception of rosewater and mace, which as I have explained in previous posts, can be found in places like Whole Foods or specialty shops. Both of these ingredients pack very powerful punches, so small amounts are all you need to make a difference in a recipe! Let’s see how they made a dessert like jumbles taste:

(For the purposes of this recipe, the ingredient measurements were roughly cut in half to control the portions.) The ingredients are: 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 stick butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tablespoon rosewater, 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon mace, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

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I first creamed the (softened) stick of butter and cup of powdered sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.

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I then added the two eggs to the butter and sugar mixture. This is a little out of order from what the recipe states, but it makes it a lot easier for the batter to come together!

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I then added the flour, spices, and rosewater to the mixture and mixed it on medium speed for about 4 to 5 minutes.

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I then rolled out portions of the dough on a floured surface and shaped them into circles. I realized later that perhaps they were supposed to be tight circles and not large like I made them, but they still turned out great!

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I placed my jumbles on a buttered baking sheet and baked them in a 450 degree oven for 8 minutes–just a tiny bit longer than what the recipe stated.

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Once the jumbles came out of the oven, I sprinkled them with more powdered sugar.

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Even though these are probably much larger than they were meant to be, my jumbles turned out to be very delicious and pretty!

While I have no idea what “jumbles” were originally intended to look like, I thoroughly enjoyed my large, sugary circles. ๐Ÿ™‚ The rosewater and mace add very distinct flavors to the dough, and this is actually a very simple recipe to follow that does not take a very long time to make. For their ease and tastiness, jumbles would be great for any parties (or lazy Sundays) you have planned in the near future!

 

Historic Everyday Eats – Colcannon

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Top of the morning to you, folks! This week in historic everyday eats, I decided to make a traditional Irish dish in honor of St. Patrick’s Day! After some digging around, I found a dish so Irish that it practically jumped off of the page and demanded that I make it. I found it in a cookbook published in 1883 titledย Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery, which is actually a British publication (but it contains Irish recipes as well).

Cassell's

The recipe I decided to make for St. Paddy’s was none other than colcannon, a very simple yet hearty dish that uses some key ingredients that remind us all of Ireland–cabbage and potatoes. The recipe for “Colcannon” reads as follows:

Colcannon

 

“Boil separately equal weights of young cabbage, savoy, or spinach, and potatoes. Chop the greens and mash the potatoes, and mix them well together with a little pepper and salt, and one ounce of butter to one pound of the mixed vegetables. Heat the mixture over the fire for a few minutes, stirring it all the time; then press it into a hot, well-buttered mould. Turn out and serve. Or, press it after mixing into a well-buttered mould, and put it into the oven half an hour. Turn out and serve. Cold vegetables may be warmed up in this way. Probable cost, 6d. for a pint mould. Sufficient for three or four persons.”

Full disclosure: I love every single ingredient in this recipe, so I was really excited about making it! Let’s see how it turned out:

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The ingredients: three russet potatoes, 3/4 of a head of cabbage, 3/4 of a 6 oz. bag of baby spinach, 2 teaspooons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 stick of butter.

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I first peeled and chopped the three potatoes and put them in a pot to boil for about 30 minutes.

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I then chopped the head of cabbage (yes, I chopped it before boiling even though the recipe says to chop it afterward–it’s just easier this way!), and I boiled it with the baby spinach for about 18 minutes.

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Next, I drained and mashed the potatoes.

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I then drained the cabbage and spinach, added it to the mashed potatoes, seasoned them with the salt and pepper, and melted the butter into the mixture over medium heat.

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I put the whole mixture in a “well-buttered mould” (aka a 9×9 cake pan) and baked it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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The colcannon came out of the oven smelling rich and savory. I couldn’t “turn it out” of the pan though, so I just had to scoop it out!

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The scooped colcannon looked and tasted so delicious! This was such a satisfying dish to make!

Colcannon turned out to be a savory and filling dish. I enjoyed the entire process of making this recipe because it reminded me of when my grandmother would make boiled cabbage for me as a child (which I know sounds unappealing to many of you, but I always liked it!). Colcannon could be a standalone dinner, or it could be a filling side, depending on how much of it you would like to make and what ingredients you would like to add (modern recipes call for onions and bacon in addition to those here). Whatever you decide to do with it, it’s definitely worth a try!

 

Historic Everyday Eats – Fancy Biscuits

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This week in Historic Everyday Eats, I decided to get a little “fancy.” That is, I made Fancy Biscuits. I took the recipe from an 1831 book titledย A New Collection of Genuine Receipts.ย (That is my shortened name for it. If you want to see the full title in all its ridiculously long glory, look no further!)

Genuine Receipts 1831

After taking a look at all of the “curious arts and interesting experiments” in this cookbook, I decided to go with a dessert, of course. “To make fancy biscuits,” one must:

Fancy Biscuits

“Take one pound of almonds, one pound of sugar, and some orange flower water. Pound the almonds very fine, and sprinkle them with orange flower water; when they are perfectly smooth to the touch, put them in a small pan, with flour sifted through a silk sieve; put the pan on a slow fire, and dry the paste till it does not stick to the fingers; move it well from the bottom to prevent its burning; then take it off, and roll it into small round fillets, to make knots, rings, &c. and cut into various shapes; make an iceing (sic) of different colours, dip one side of them in it, and set them in it, and set them on wire gratings to drain. They may be varied by strewing over them colored pistachios, or colored almonds, according to fancy.”

Despite the long description, this is actually a pretty simple recipe…if you can tweak it just right to make it work. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Let’s see how mine turned out!

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The ingredients (cut in half from the original recipe so as to not have a ton of fancy biscuits sitting around): 8 ounces (1 cup) of ground almonds, 1 3/4 cups of sugar, 1/4 cup of orange blossom water, and 1 2/3 cups of flour. (Not pictured: additional water to make the biscuits come together as well as milk, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract for the “iceing” that the recipe did not explain!)

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My first step was to grind the sliced almonds I got for this recipe. I used the food processor to make this easier on me!

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I then added the sugar and orange blossom water to the mixture! (I had to guess and progressively add more orange blossom water to the recipe as I went along in order to make it come together. I ended up with 1/4 cup total.)

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I mixed the sugar, orange blossom water, and almonds together into a “paste” (or as close to a paste as I could get it).

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I then moved the mixture to a pan over medium heat and added 1 2/3 cups of flour, which is half a pound, equal to the weight measurements for the sugar and almonds.

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To make this mixture actually come together without adding anymore overpowering flavor (like orange blossom water), I ended up adding 1/4 cup of water to the pan. This resulted in a more cohesive dough after about five minutes of stirring over medium heat.

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After the dough came together, I let it cool for about fifteen minutes, then I rolled it into 2 inch balls. (I didn’t have the patience to make intricate shapes!) I set them on a wire rack to prepare them for icing!

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Since this recipe gave no instructions for the icing, I found a modern recipe for a sugar glaze that you can find here. I heated 1/2 stick of butter over medium heat, added 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and then loosened it up with 1 1/2 teaspoons of whole milk. I then poured the glaze over my biscuits, and I thus made them “fancy.” ๐Ÿ˜‰ I let the biscuits and glaze harden for about 15 minutes before eating!

My fancy biscuits turned out to be very tasty! They are very, very rich and nutty in flavor. The orange blossom water adds a fresh taste to these “biscuits,” and the sugar glaze on top adds a nice presentation as well as sweetness to the dessert. These fancy biscuits would be a great finger food for a party, as long as no one is allergic to nuts!

 

Historic Everyday Eats – Queen Cake

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Historic Everyday Eats is very special this week, folks! This entry should really be called “Historic Birthday Eats” because that is precisely the reason I made a cake! My mom came up to Chicago for the first time to celebrate her birthday last weekend (February 7), and I decided that this would be the perfect time to make my first historic cake! I picked a recipe for “Queen Cake” because what is better for a birthday queen? ๐Ÿ˜‰

The 1818 recipe for “Queen Cakes” from The Universal Receipt Book (which I have used before) reads as follows:

Queen Cake

“Take a pound each of dried and sifted flour, beaten and sifted loaf sugar, and fine fresh butter washed in rose or orange-flower water. Pour the water from the butter, squeeze it well in the hand, and work it by very small bits at a time, with half the flour and six yolks, but only four whites of eggs, beaten well together, and mixed with the butter. Then work in the rest of the flour and the sugar, adding three spoonsful of orange flower-water, a little beaten mace, and a pound of nicely picked and dried currants. The pans must be well buttered, and filled half full, have a little double refined sugar sifted over, and be set in a quick oven.”

Before going into the process of making this cake (which I did make as one big cake instead of several small ones), I wanted to explain a couple of the ingredients. The first is orange-flower water, or orange blossom water as you will find it in stores now. Like rose water, this is an extract made from the blossoms of orange trees. Unlike rose water, it is not nearly as strong (in smell or flavor), but it does produce a very nice aroma and taste in the finished product. The second ingredient in question is/are currants. Currants are a small berry, and I could not find their dried version in my grocery store. After doing some research, I found that dried currants can be replaced by raisins, so that is what I used in this recipe. As per usual, I cut this recipe in half so I wouldn’t have pounds and pounds of cake sitting around. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So let’s see how this Queen Cake came together:

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The ingredients: 1 2/3 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 sticks butter, 4 whole eggs plus two yolks, 3 tablespoons orange blossom water, 1 teaspoon mace, 1 1/2 cups raisins. (Powdered sugar is optional–I used it for topping the cake.)

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I started by mixing half of the flour, half the sugar, all of the eggs, and all of the butter (cut into small pieces after being soaked in orange blossom water for about 5 minutes).

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I then added in the rest of the flour and sugar in addition to 1 tsp mace and 3 tbsp orange blossom water.

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After mixing the batter together, I added 1 1/2 cups of raisins.

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This is a very sticky, wet batter, but it is very pretty with the chunks of butter and raisins!

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I then poured the batter into a well-buttered 8×8 baking pan and topped it with a little granulated sugar.

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I baked the cake in a 400 degree oven (which I thought would be “quick,” but not quite quick enough!) for 50 minutes. The cake came out golden and bubbly with a crumbly sugar top. ๐Ÿ™‚

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After letting the cake cool for about 45 minutes, I topped it with sifted powdered sugar just to make it a little more special. (It was for my mom’s birthday, after all!)

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The final product was a flavorful and aromatic cake that was very dense and sweet. The orange blossom water really makes this cake because of that extra layer of smell it adds.

Queen Cake was a pretty big hit among my husband, my mother, and myself. It probably isn’t a typical “birthday” cake per se, but I believe it would actually make a great breakfast cake (along the lines of coffee cake or muffins). It’s definitely worth a try, and it’s definitely fit for a queen! ๐Ÿ˜‰