Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category
Several stalks of rhubarb
Premade tart shells or pie crusts
Granulated white sugar
Take the young green stalks of the rhubarb plant, or spring fruit as it is called in England; and having peeled off the thin skin, cut the stalks into small pieces about an inch long, and put them into a sauce-pan with plenty of brown sugar, and its own juice. Cover it, and let it stew slowly till it is soft enough to mash to a marmalade. Then set it away to cool. Have ready some fresh baked shells; fill them with the stewed rhubarb, and grate white sugar over the top.
For covered pies, cut the rhubarb very small; mix a great deal of sugar with it, and put it in raw. Bake the pies about three quarters of an hour.
Miss Leslie’s Directions for Cookery by Eliza Leslie, 1851
Comments: Instructions to use “granulated white sugar” seem redundant today, when that’s pretty much the only way that sugar is commonly sold. In the 19th century things were different. Sugar was produced at the cane-refining mills in molds shaped like cones to make the end product easy to remove. The sugar cones were then wrapped in paper and shipped to market without further processing. Grocers would upon request break off a chunk of smaller size, since few people could either afford a whole cone or had (ant-proof!) ways to store it at home. In either case the cook was often called upon to get the amount needed for an individual recipe from the chunk by means of a hammer and chisel, and then scrape it over a grater to the desired fineness. Brown sugar, since it still contained much of the molasses that had been refined out of the white sugar, was often softer and easier to work with.
Tart apples, sliced
2 sheets pie crust
Nutmeg or lemon
To eat immediately, the following is excellent. Lay the slices into the plate upon an under crust; fill it quite full; sprinkle the rim with a little flour, to prevent the upper crust from adhering to the under one. Bake forty minutes, or till the apple is tender, and then slide off the upper crust and add a small bit of butter, some nutmeg or lemon, and sugar to your taste. Mix them well with the apple with a silver spoon, and return the upper crust to its place.
From The Young Housekeeper’s Friend by Mrs. [M. H.] Cornelius, 1863.
Comment: Apples in the 19th century came in a dazzling array of varieties, most a specialty of a particular geographical region where the peculiarities of genetics and pollination had brought forth a sport. The over-bred, oversized, mushy, tasteless fruits of today, selected more for their ability to look “perfect” and withstand long shipping, were unknown. This dessert would have been a treat available only once a year, at the time when the apples were coming ripe on the trees. Those to be preserved for winter would have to be either canned or packed into barrels where, with luck and dry conditions, they would slowly wrinkle but not rot.
2 c. fine-ground hominy, boiled and cold
3 c. sour milk. If sweet, add one tsp. cream-tartar
1/2 c. melted butter
2 tsp. salt
2 tbs. white sugar
1 large cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
Beat the hominy smooth, stir in the milk, then the butter, salt and sugar; next the eggs, which should first be well beaten; then the soda, dissolved in hot water; lastly the flour.
There are no more delicious or wholesome muffins than these, if rightly mixed and quickly baked.
From Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: We are puzzled by the phrase “fine-ground hominy” as hominy is usually a whole-kernel form of corn. This sounds more like it would be based on grits, the next size up from corn meal. Experimentation may be called for.
The “sour milk” called for here does not mean milk which has spoiled, but rather a thin version of sour cream, which may be substituted. Further confusing things, “sweet” milk is not milk to which sugar has been added but simply means that it is not sour, i.e. regular fresh millk.. In combination with the baking soda (and cream of tartar if regular milk is used) the two act as mild rising agents, basically homemade baking powder. The three cups called for seems alarmingly excessive but that is how Mrs. Harland wrote it in her book so we have no choice but to repeat it here. Since the typographical error is not a modern invention, we again suggest experimentation. Keep adding the liquid until the batter looks like that which is usual for muffins.
10 c. flour
6 c. sugar
3 c. butter
3 c. buttermilk or sour cream thinned with milk
1 c. wine
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, ground
1 lb. currants
1 lb. raisins
To ten cups of flour, put six of sugar, three of butter, three of sour milk (a little warm), eight eggs, a glass of wine, a large teaspoonful of saleratus, a nutmeg, a pound of currants, a pound of raisins.
From The Young Housekeeper’s Friend by Mrs. [M. H.] Cornelius, 1865.
Comment: We know this is intended to be a “cup cake” because it is in a section of Mrs. Cornelius’ book with that overall label. As the little paper cupcake holders with which we are familiar today had not yet been invented, these were normally baked in, well, cups. Regular cups normally used for coffee, tea or the like. One would probably not use the finest family china for this task, but any sturdy porcelain or other smooth drinking vessel would be appropriate.
“Saleratus” was a precursor of baking powder used to produce rising in baked goods for which yeast was not appropriate. Use regular baking powder in similar proportions. Using the quantity of ingredients listed here will produce a great whacking lot of cupcakes, so for family use one might want to consider cutting the amounts called for in half.
12 oz. sugar
1/4 lb (1 stick) butter
1 lb. flour
2 oz. ginger
1/4 oz. cinnamon
1/4 oz. cloves
Take twelve ounces of pounded loaf sugar, a quarter of a pound of fresh butter, one pound of dried flour, two ounces of pounded ginger, and of cloves and cinnamon a quarter of an ounce each. Mix the ginger and the spice with the flour, put the sugar and a small tea-cup full of water into a saucepan; when it is dissolved, add the butter, and as soon as it is melted, mix it with the flour and other things; work it up, and form the paste into cakes or nuts, and bake them upon tins.
From The Cook’s Own Book by “A Boston Housekeeper” (Mrs. N. K. M. Lee) Boston 1832
Comment: This is an interesting variation on the theme of “gingerbread” but what exactly qualifies it for the name of “Indian” is unclear. It contains neither corn meal, which was known as “Indian meal” in much of the 19th century, nor what we would consider “Indian” spices today such as curry. Certainly cinnamon and cloves come from what was then called the “East Indies” but they were used in vast numbers of products that never had the Indian name attached. Some things just must remain mysteries.
This evidently makes a very thick dough and the resulting products would resemble cookies more than anything else.
2 large lemons, peeled
4-5 oz. sugar
yolks of 6 eggs
1/2 lb. butter
Boil the peel of two large lemons till they are quite tender, and then pound it well in a mortar, with four or five ounces of loaf sugar, the yolks of six eggs, half a pound of fresh butter, and a little curd beaten fine; pound and mix together, lay a rich puff paste in some patty-pans, fill them half full, and bake them carefully.
From The Cook’s Own Book by “A Boston Housekeeper” (Mrs. N. K. M. Lee), Boston, 1832
Comment: “Curd” is the hard part of cottage cheese. Either get the dry form of this or put regular cottage cheese in a strainer and rinse the milky white stuff out. Unlike modern cheesecakes, those of the period were baked in regular pie crust, not the crushed graham cracker version more common today. The boiled lemon peel should be the yellow part only with as little of the underlying white pith as possible, as it is bitter. It will mush up with the sugar in the mortar more easily the thinner the strips into which it is cut.
“Loaf sugar” is just regular white sugar, which in the 19th century was normally sold in hard blocks or cones and grated into granulated form for use. We can, thankfully, skip that step today.