Sunday, July 31, 2016

Iced Brandy Pound Cake

Iced Brandy Pound Cake


The following recipes come from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations.


Pound Cake
1 lb. of flour, 1 lb. of sugar, 1 ¼ lb. of Butter beat to a cream, 1 lb. of eggs beaten very light, nutmeg or mace and a wine glass of French Brandy. & the flour to be stirred in, the last & sifted.

About Pound Cake
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest record of Pound-Cake is from Hannah Glasse’s, 1747 The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (London). Here is that recipe which gives the option of including either caraway seeds or currants (very typical for the time period):


There are many different examples of historic pound cakes and some are called other things, such as Cup Cake or 1-2-3-4 Cake (named for the 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs in the recipe). Because the name Pound Cake infers that the baker will have a scale to weigh out all of the ingredients, those who could not afford a scale needed to use a cup system in its place. The size of the cup was less important than making sure that the same cup was used for measuring all of the ingredients required in the recipe for the sake of uniformity. While Fannie Farmer is often given credit for inventing the modern American system of measuring ingredients with cups, many bakers throughout the 19th century were doing this, particularly cookbook author Eliza Leslie and Lydia Child. Here is a recipe for a cup cake from Lydia Child's 1830 The Frugal Housewife (Boston):


Brandy Pound Cake: Modern Recipe Adaptation

Ingredients:
  • 4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Grated Nutmeg or Mace (or a bit of each)
  • 1 1/4 Pounds Butter (5 sticks), Softened
  • 2 1/4 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 8 Large Eggs, Separated
  • 1/4 Cup French Brandy

Directions: 
1.  Heat the Oven to 375º F.
2.  Grease a 12 cup capacity tube/Bundt cake pan.  The tube in the center facilitates even cooking, but you can use a regular cake pan.
3.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and spices. Set aside. 
4.  In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to blend the butter and sugar together. Add the egg yolks and brandy and beat until well-blended. 
5.  Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until very fluffy to the point where soft peaks form.
6.  Add the egg whites and flour alternately to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until everything is well-incorporated.
7. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake about 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. 
8.  Let cool for just a few minutes and then remove from the pan immediately. 
9.  Top with the recipe for icing, also from the Morris manuscript, at the bottom of this page.

Icing for Cakes
For a large one, beat & sift eight oz.’s of best loaf sugar, put in a mortar with four spoonfuls of Rose Water & the whites of two eggs beaten & strained whisk it well, & when the cake is almost cold, dip a feather in the icing & cover the cake well; set it in the oven to harden, but do not let it stay to discolour.

Rose Water:
The flavoring for this icing is rosewater. Rosewater has been made by steeping the petals in water, oil or alcohol since the days of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. The process of distilling rosewater evolved in the 3rd-4th centuries AD in Mesopatamia. Persia became a rosewater distillation center by the 9th century, and the fragrant essence made its way to Europe in the 11th century with the crusaders, and subsequently became very popular in Medieval English cookery.

Icing: Modern Recipe Adaptation

Ingredients:
  • 2 Cups Confectioner's Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Rose Water
  • 2 Egg Whites

Directions:

1.  Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
2. Pour or drizzle over cake. Allow the icing to dry and set.


Reference:
Alan Davidson, The Penguin Companion to Food, 2002

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ginger Wafers

Ginger Wafers
Rolled and Filled with Cream (top) and Flat (Bottom)


The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).


Wafer Cakes
1 lb. of flour, ¼ lb. sugar, ¼ lb. butter, 4 eggs & a little spice. Make it into a dough, roll it in pieces and bake in Irons, when baked crisply, roll them with a fork as you take them from the Irons.


About Wafers
A wafer is another form of a waffle in that both are baked on hot irons. Wafer batter is sandwiched between two very hot plates incised with a design and when pressed together the batter spreads and becomes a thin disc. When taken off the wafer iron, the wafer disc can be rolled into a cone shape and filled with cream. Note: Morris's recipe had to be altered a bit ( two additional eggs were added) to make them "rollable" - her recipe as written makes a wafer that is too brittle to roll without breaking.


Wafer Irons for the Hearth
source: wikimedia commons
Modern Electric Wafer Iron

Wafers can be traced back in British history to the 13th century when they were introduced to England by the Normans. At that time, it was not unusual to place a slice of cheese inside the wafer to make a Medieval version of a grilled cheese sandwich. Additionally, there is a wafer recipe from the 15th century that contains soft cheese and the ground stomach of a pike fish!



In 15th century Britain, wafers were a very important part of royal households and often even boasted of having a "royal wafery" where only these delectable treats were prepared. Importantly, understand that these simple crispy confections were actually only served on feast days to the King/Queen, dukes, earls, the chief officers of the household, and important visitors. Therefore, at that time this food was not democratized to the general population. By the time of the Elizabethan era (1558-1603), wafers were a bit more democratized and were actually sold in the streets.



Of course, wafers rolled into cones eventually evolved into the basis for a very popular snack food today, the ice cream cone!  The earliest evidence for this goes back to 1807 and can be found in an engraving of Frascati Paris, a cafe of sorts specializing in ices that opened in 1792 on the Rue Richelin, across from "The Gardens of Frascati".   


Wafer Cakes: Modern Recipe Adaptation 
Yield: About 18 4-Inch Wafers

Note: You will need a wafer/pizelle maker to make this recipe

Ingredients:
  • 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Ounces (1 Stick) Butter, Melted
  • 6 Large Eggs
Directions:

1.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and ginger.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition.  Add the flour last. Beat until well mixed.
3.  Measure out about 2 tablespoons of batter for each wafer and cook based on the manufacturer's recommendation for your device.
5.  You can keep the wafers flat or roll them into cones and fill them with whipped cream or ice cream.


Use a Fork or a Special Utensil Like This to Roll the Wafers into Cones

REFERENCES:
  • Peter Brears, Cooking & Dining in Medieval England, Prospect Books, Great Britain, 2008.
  • Alan Davidson, The Penguin Companion to Food, New York, 2002
  • Robin Weir, "An 1807 Ice Cream Cone: Discovery and Evidence," Food History News, #62, Vol. XVI, No. II.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Stewed Beef: A Hint of Cloves Gives This Dish an Historic Taste

Stewed Beef

The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).


This recipe is notable for its simplicity, frugality, and great taste. 


  • This a simple dish  because of the relatively meagre ingredients list and the ease at which the stew comes together with minimal effort.  However, it does take a relatively long time to complete (about 3 hours); this might seem anything but simple, particularly in a 21st century society where speed and convenience tend to dominate the culinary scene, but it is worth the wait. So, have a glass of your favorite drink, sit back, and relax while the stew is cooking. You won't be disappointed.
  • This is a frugal dish because the stewing beef required is one of the less expensive cuts of beef available. 
  • Great taste is revealed after the beef has slow-cooked for hours in the aromatic onions, carrots, and tomatoes.  The cloves add that extra flavor so reminiscent of historic British and American cooking.
The cloves make this dish!

Stewed Beef (Mrs. Hollingsworth)
Put your beef in a Dutch oven, and when it is about half done, add Tomatoes carrots, sliced, one onion, 6 cloves & salt stew them together, dust a little flour over, and mix a little water with it to make the gravy – it will require about 3 hours to be in the oven ---


Stewed Beef: Modern Recipe Adaptation
Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
  • 3 Teaspoons Salt, Separated
  • 1.5 Teaspoons Ground Black Pepper, Separated
  • 1.5 Pound Stewing Beef (such as a chuck or brisket cut)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, Bacon Grease or Lard
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 1 Cup Chopped Carrots
  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups Chopped Tomatoes
  • 6 Whole Cloves
  • 2 Cups Water

Directions:
1.  Heat the oven to 325º F.
2.  Mix together 1 teaspoon of the salt with 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Rub this mixture on both sides of the beef. Set aside.
3.  In a large Dutch oven, heat the fat (oil, bacon dripping or lard).  Add the beef and brown for about 2-3 minutes per side, until a crust appears. 
4.  Cover the Dutch oven and place in the oven for 90 minutes.
5.  About 60 minutes into the cooking, prepare all of the vegetables and make sure to measure out the flour, cloves, and water. 
6.  After the beef has cooked for 90 minutes, remove it from the oven. Take the beef out and place it on a plate and set aside.
7.  Place the Dutch oven on a burner set to medium high heat. Add the onions and remaining salt and pepper. Stir with a flat-edged spatula to scrape off bits of meat and juices from the bottom of the Dutch oven.  Do this for 2-3 minutes and then add the carrots. Stirring frequently, cook for five more minutes. Then sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir until all the flour is evenly distributed. Cook 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour taste.
8.  Stir in the tomatoes, cloves, and water and stir once again. Then add the beef and any juices that may have leaked onto the plate back into the Dutch oven. Cover and return to the oven. Cook for an additional 90 minutes but check periodically to make sure the gravy is not drying out--add more water, if necessary.
9.  Serve as it with no adornment, or you can serve this over rice, egg noodles, or roasted potatoes. 

Note: You can easily double or triple this recipe!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lemon Blanc Mange: A Refreshing Historic Dessert

Lemon Blanc Mange


The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).


Lemon Blanc Mange
Pour a pint of warm water on one oz. of Isinglass, when dissolved, add the juice of 3 lemons, the peel of one grated, the yelks of 6 eggs, half pint of wine sweetened with sugar—1 lb. & quarter and boil it.




Source: Isabella Beeton, Beeton's Book of Household Management 

Blanc Mange
Blanc mange/blancmange is an anglicized version of the French term, blanc manger, which simply means "white food." According to the Oxford English Dictionary, blanc mange/blancmange is "a sweetmeat made of dissolved isinglass or gelatine boiled with milk, etc., and forming an opaque white jelly; also a preparation of cornflour and milk, with flavouring substances." An older meaning of the term actually refers to a sweet and savory substance made of  "fowl, . . . but also of other meat, minced with cream, rice, almonds, sugar, eggs, etc."

While there may be a wide variation on the manner in which these recipes were constructed, opaqueness is their most distinguishing and therefore consistent trait, as opposed to a clear gelatin. What is also traditional and seemingly contradictory to the name of this dish is that often color was added to the recipes , therefore belying the original "white" intent. This recipe for a yellow lemon blanc mange is a perfect example of this practice. 

There are many recipes in 18th-19th c. American and British cookery books for a variety of types of sweet blanc manges. The recipe in the Morris manuscript is distinctly different in that it uses wine and egg yolks as opposed to milk or cream to  make the pudding opaque, the key to any blanc mange.

Here a some other historic blanc mange recipes to look at:

1717:  The Accomplished Housekeeper and Universal Cook by T.Williams, London:
This recipe is very interesting because it offers ways to color the blanc mange in a variety of ways (green, red, yellow and violet) and even suggests layering the colors to make a rainbow style blanc mange.  Also, note that to serve just the plain white style blanc mange, there are directions to "garnish with jellies of different colours."



1777: The Lady's Assistant by Charlotte Mason, London:
This set of recipes is really fun because of the many creative ways Mason suggests the gelled pudding can be made. I particularly like her idea to make a faux poached egg using white blanc mange for the egg white and a preserved apricot for the yolk!




1
1884: Mrs. Owens Cook Book and Useful Household Hints by Frances Owens, Chicago:
In a preface to the section on blanc mange, Frances Owens offers her American readers a nice description of varieties of blanc mange to make and useful hints about the best way to make them.




Lemon Blanc Mange: Modern Recipe Adaptation

Ingredients:
  • 1 Cup White Wine
  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups Cold Water
  • 1-Ounce Package Knox Unflavored Gelatin
  • Juice of 3 Lemons
  • Grated Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 6 Egg Yolks*
Directions:

1. Place the wine and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, until the mixture has reduced and is syrupy.
2. While the wine/sugar mixture is cooking, place the cold water in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle all of the gelatin on top and set it aside.
3.  When the wine/sugar syrup is ready, add the lemon juice and zest to it and stir. Then, add this mixture to the cold gelatin in the large mixing bowl and stir well. The mixture will still be too hot to add the raw egg yolks without tempering. Follow the next step carefully to temper the eggs.
4.  Place the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl and whisk. Then, add about 1/4 cup of the hot gelatin mixture to the egg yolks and stir well.  Then, add the egg yolks to the larger mixing bowl with the hot gelatin. Stir well. Note: You need to do it this way to avoid the egg yolks from cooking and scrambling, so don't leave this step out!*
5.   Pour the mixture into a medium-sized decorative jelly mold and refrigerate several hours until the jelly is completely firm.
6.  Place the mold in a bowl of hot water for 30-60 seconds to help release it from the mold. Turn out onto a plate and decorate with slices of lemon and mint.





*Consuming raw or undercooked eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Queen Cake: Royally Delicious!

Queen Cakes
The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

Queen Cake or Sponge Cake
15 eggs with their weight in sugar & the weight of 10 eggs in flour. 2 lemons rasped & the juice of one. let the yolks & whites of the eggs be separately well beaten. the lemon juice added just before it is put in the oven—the flour stirred in last and sifted.


About the Recipe:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a Queen Cake is "a small currant-cake, typically heart-shaped." and the OED's earliest reference for them goes back to 1734 in J. Middleton & H. Howard's 500 New Receipts with a reference for "Fine Queen-Cakes." However, an older recipe from 1725 can be found in Robert Smith's Court Cookery (London):

Being that the published recipe goes back to 1725 and given the commonly accepted belief that recipes could have existed for decades before they were ever published, it is possible that the recipe was made in honor of Queen Anne who ruled as England's sovereign from 1702-1714. However, there is no evidence to prove this, just a speculation.


Also, because most Queen Cake recipes instruct the baker to make them in individual small cakes, usually heart-shaped, it is possible that they were called Queen Cakes after the concept of the "Queen of Hearts"--but who knows?!  Morris does not specifically state that her recipe be made in this way. Perhaps she assumed they would be made that way. Her recipes are merely just "aides memoire" not designed to be too detailed and instructive in the same way a modern recipe is written. Therefore, she probably just assumed the user would know to bake them in that way. Finally, most Queen Cake recipes include the dried fruit, currants. Morris did not include them in her recipe.

To further your knowledge of Queen Cake, here are some additional period recipes to investigate:
  • Amelia Simmons, American Cookery (1796)
  • Susanna Carter’s, The Frugal Housewife (1803)
  • Lucy Emerson’s, The New England Cookery ( 1808)
  • Eliza Leslie’s, Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats (1828)
  • Eliza Leslie’s, Directions for Cookery (1840)
  • Elizabeth E. Lea’s, Domestic Cookery (1869)
  • Fannie Merritt Farmer’s, The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook (1896). 
  • Recipes for Queen Cake are found well into the twentieth-century.

Queen Cake or Sponge Cake: Modern Recipe Adaptation
Makes 24 1-Ounce Cakes

Ingredients:
  • 5 Large Eggs, Separated
  • 1 2/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • Grated Zest of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1.5 Cups of All-Purpose Flour

Directions:

1.  Heat the oven to 350º F. Grease a mini-muffin or cake pan of your choice. Note: Heart-shapes were customary in historic recipes for Queen Cakes.


2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks together with the sugar. If using an electric mixer, beat for about 2 minutes on the medium-high setting. 

3. Add the lemon zest and juice to the egg yolk and sugar mixture and beat for just a few seconds to incorporate it evenly throughout the batter. 

Add the flour to the egg and sugar mixture by forcing it through a sieve or sifter to lighten it. Be sure to fold, not stir,  the flour into the egg yolk mixture to keep it as light as possible. Click here to learn how to fold. The flour doesn't need to be completely mixed before you move to the next step.

5. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites, which are in a separate large mixing bowl, until stiff peaks form. 

Hint: If you use a copper mixing bowl to whisk the egg whites, the egg whites will be glossier and firmer than in any other type of bowl. Click here to read more about the science behind this theory.
Egg Whites Whip Up Better in a Copper Bowl


6.  Then, fold the egg whites into the egg yolk batter, being very careful to keep the batter as light and airy as possible. 


7.  Spoon 2 Tablespoons of batter into each opening of the mini cake pan you are using. Bake for 18 minutes, or until the cakes are firm and no batter remains on a skewer inserted into the center of the cakes.