Posts Tagged ‘early 19th Century foodways’

Several dishes that I made for use this past
December at The Israel Crane House during
the annual Essex County (NJ) Historic Holiday
House Tour were “repeats” from the previous
year. They included mulled cider, Pounded
Cheese, and of course, a visitor favorite,
Gingerbread Cakes.

As with last year, I used Hannah Glasse’s
receipt from her book, The Art of Cookery,
made Plain and Easy
(1747). They were fairly easy to do, and
they turned out quite well. However, there was one very slight
difference in this year’s batch: I was forced to use molasses
instead of treacle. dagnabit. As you may recall, in 2010 I was
extremely eager to follow Glasse’s receipt largely because it
called for the use of treacle. Those Cakes were a huge hit, so
I wanted to make them again. Alas, when I went to the grocery
store that usually sells treacle, there was not a can to be found.
Not a one! I even checked back THREE separate times. It was
highly disappointing, to say the least. And so, I had to substitute
molasses for the treacle. dagnabit. It was mighty painful to do so.
Sure, they were fine; everyone who stopped to visit me in the Crane
kitchen loved them; but, still…. And believe me, there IS a difference
in the taste. They seemed just a bit more bland. At least, to me.

Ahh, well…maybe next year. One thing is certain: if I see any cans
of treacle at that store between now and then, I’m buying up several!



NEXT: those “unique” meat dishes

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The holidays have come and gone. It’s a new year. And,
dagnabit, now I need to start blogging again! Yes, I’ve
become a lazy, good for nothing, ol’ dang…whatever.
I must say, it’s quite amazing how NOT posting entries
for just a few days can easily become a bad habit. And
a very shameful and self-defeating bad habit, at that.

Nevertheless, let’s get back to some of my recent (fairly)
adventures in historic cookery. And there are alot of them!

Now, for an entire weekend back in December, the Israel
Crane House was included on the Essex County (NJ) Holiday
Historical Houses Tour. Of course, I participated by cooking
at the Crane kitchen hearth. A fantastic time was had by all.
Particularly me! HUZZAH!

I’ll explain more later about what I cooked before and during
each day of the Tour, but for now, I’ll give you a look at the
Shrewsbury Cakes that I baked at home and then set out
for visitors to enjoy. I must say, they were mighty popular!

Incidentally, I used the receipt (recipe) from Amelia Simmons’
American Cookery (1796). More on that later, as well.


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Spent this past Sunday cooking at the hearth in the Israel
Crane House
. Since it’s early December and winter is upon
us, I discussed and demonstrated various after-butchering
activities. Made sausage, fried up some salt pork, rendered
lard, and so on. Had many opportunities to compare “back
then” to the present day. Had a great time, as always!

I have a few photos to share. It’s always difficult, though,
to find free moments take any. Yes, too many visitors! Not
that I’m complaining, mind you. The more the merrier!


During a brief break in the steady stream of visitors, I handed
my camera to another gal, who then took a few photos:

I really like the next one, except it’s a bit blurry…dagnabit!

Here’s another that’s a little bit better…almost:

Ahh, well…maybe next time!

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Receipts for New Year’s Cake began to appear frequently
in 19th century published cookbooks. Here’s another,
from the ninth edition (1836) of Seventy-five Receipts
for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats
, by Eliza Leslie.
Interestingly, this was NOT included in her first edition
(1828) or any other earlier editions.

Other items of note in this receipt are: the layout,
with ingredients and their amounts listed separately,
followed by the instructions; the use of pearl-ash,
a leavening agent extracted from wood ashes,
instead of yeast; the amount of kneading; and
the option to apply a design.

The fun part, however, is the paragraph dealing
with the required kneading!



Three pounds of flour, sifted.
A pound and a half of powered white sugar.
A pound of fresh butter.
A pint of milk with a small teaspoonful
of pearl-ash melted in it.

Having sifted the flour, spread the sugar
on the paste-board, a little at a time,
and crush it to powder by rolling it
with the rolling-pin. Then mix it with
the flour. Cut up in the flour the butter
and mix it well by rubbing it in with your
hands. Add by degrees the milk. Then
knead the dough very hard, till it no
longer sticks to your hands. Cover it,
set it away for an hour or two, and then
knead it again in the same manner. You
may repeat the kneading several times.
Then cut it into pieces, roll out each piece
into a sheet half an inch thick. Cut it into
large flat cakes with a tin cutter. You may
stamp each cake with a wooden print,
by way of ornamenting the surface.

Sprinkle with flour some large flat tin or
iron pans, lay the cakes in them and bake
them of a pale brown, in an oven of equal
heat throughout.

These cakes require more and harder
kneading than any others, therefore
it is best to have them kneaded by
a man, or a very strong woman.

They are greatly improved by the addition
of some carraway seeds worked into the dough.


NEXT: New Year’s Cake at home

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