History peeking through.
Seen in Lakeview. August 2015.
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. 😉 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.
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:
“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.
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:”
“2 tablespoons boiling water.
To water add enough sifted sugar to make of right consistency to spread; then add flavoring. Fresh fruit juice may be used in place of boiling water. This is a most satisfactory frosting, and is both easily and quickly made.”
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 all of that and so much more to me. How I love it so.
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 titled Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats (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:
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:
While I have no idea what “jumbles” were originally intended to look like, I thoroughly enjoyed my large, sugary circles. 🙂 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!
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 titled Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery, which is actually a British publication (but it contains Irish recipes as well).
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:
“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:
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!
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 titled A New Collection of Genuine Receipts. (That is my shortened name for it. If you want to see the full title in all its ridiculously long glory, look no further!)
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:
“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. 😉 Let’s see how mine turned out!
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 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? 😉
The 1818 recipe for “Queen Cakes” from The Universal Receipt Book (which I have used before) reads as follows:
“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. 😉
So let’s see how this Queen Cake came together:
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! 😉
Last week’s cookbook that I used for “Historic Everyday Eats” was so full of great recipes that I decided to use it again. This book, which I’ll just call The Universal Receipt Book (1818) in order to keep it short this time, has many great dessert recipes especially (we all know that’s the kind I gravitate toward!).
Of course, I decided to make a dessert once more this week. I actually searched the entire cookbook to find something that used ingredients that I already had around the house since there was a record-breaking snowstorm going on this past weekend, aka I didn’t want to leave the house to get anything.
The recipe I chose was for a dish that is essentially a bread soup, known as “Panada.” The recipe reads as follows:
“Boil for not more than two minutes some slices or crumbs of bread, with a blade of mace in a quart of water; then, taking out the bread and finely bruising it in a basin, mix as much water as will make it of a proper consistence. Put in a bit of fresh butter, grate a little nutmeg, and sweeten it to palate. If wine be required, though it is much best without, by no means boil it with the water and bread. This is a delicate diet for weak stomachs.”
This recipe seemed a little bit strange (stranger than most of these other 200-year-old recipes, I mean), but I wanted to give it a try. Before I go into the process of making it, however, I wanted to explain one of the ingredients–a blade of mace. I’ve discussed mace before, but only in its ground form. A “blade of mace” is a strip of the outer layer of a nutmeg in its whole form (before it is removed, ground, and sold as a spice). You can find out more about mace blades here. Since I only had the ground version of mace, I used about half of a teaspoon of it in place of an entire blade.
So, how did my “bread soup” turn out?
This panada had an nice flavor, but the consistency wasn’t really what I consider “great.” I think that panada would actually work better as a savory dish or as a small side for a dinner plate. I guess since it was meant for people with weak stomachs, it’s not supposed to be a “Wow!” dish. 😉 Nice try panada–maybe next time!