Good, because I have more New Year’s Cake receipts to share!
This one is from an 1846 issue of The Genesee Farmer,
the first major agricultural journal published in New York.
Note the instructions “to roll it thin and cut it in small cakes,”
resulting in what we today might call cookies.
New Year’s Cake.
Seven pounds of flour, two pounds
and a half of sugar, two pounds
of butter, and a pint of water,
with a teaspoonful of volatile*
salts dissolved in it. Work the
paste well; roll it thin and cut
it in small cakes, with a thin
cutter; lay them on tin plates
in a quick oven, for fifteen minutes.
This receipt is somewhat similar to an earlier one, and yet,
it’s not. The amounts of the ingredients are exactly half
of those in Amelia Simmons’ receipt in American Cookery:
seven pounds of flour, instead of 14; 2 1/2 pounds of sugar,
not 5; and only 2 pounds of butter, instead of 4. Although
it calls for water and not milk, oddly the amount of liquid
is still the same. There’s plenty of kneading with “work
the paste well.” And the yeast or the dissolved pearl-ash
is exchanged for volatile salts (aka spirits of hartshorn
or ammonia) placed in the aforementioned pint of liquid.
It’s kinda, sorta, almost the same combination.
However, there are no eggs or caraway seeds, making it
less rich. Of course, another receipt we looked at earlier,
the one from Eliza Leslie’s Seventy-five Receipts, also
didn’t have any eggs or seeds. It calls for the exact
same ingredients, yet not the same amounts. Surely,
the resulting cakes must be quite different? Or no?
Of course, the receipt above was published 50 years
after the one in American Cookery. Perhaps a few
alterations should be expected?
What’s interesting, as well, is that these receipts, whether
nearly the same or wildly not, are all called New Year’s Cakes.
I suppose, though, as with many other receipts, it’s not really
all that unusual. Still, with a specialty item such as this, seems,
perhaps, that they would be even more alike than they are.
The best thing to do, I suppose, would be to make each one.
See which tastes similar, and which tastes totally different,
either despite, or because of, the varying mixtures of ingredients.
*volatile salts=spirits of hartshorn, ammonia
water, ammonium carbonate
I gather it’s meant as a leavening agent that acts
much as yeast or pearl-ash would.