Archive for the ‘dessert’ Category
1/4 lb. butter
1/2 pint milk
1/2 c. brandy
1 bottom pie crust
Additional pie dough, cut in strips and twisted (optional)
Stew a fine sweet pumpkin till soft and dry; rub it through a sieve, mix with the pulp six eggs [beaten] quite light, a quarter of a pound of butter, half a pint of new milk, some pounded ginger and nutmeg, a wine glass of brandy, and sugar to your taste. Should it be too liquid, stew it a little drier, put a paste [strip of pie dough] round the edge, and in the bottom of a shallow dish or plate–pour in the mixture, cut some thin bits of paste, twist them, and lay them across the top, and bake it nicely.
From The Virginia Housewife or, Methodical Cook, by Mary Randolph, 1841
Comment: Canned pumpkin is so universally available, and so cheap, that few indeed are the people who make a pie by starting with a raw fruit of the vine. Since the situation was quite reversed in Mrs. Randolph’s day, she omits a few processing details. These include the detachment of the rind (the hard, thin outside shell) from the edible part of the pumpkin (the soft yellow-orange flesh) and of course the removal of seeds and strings from the very center as you do when making the jack-o-lantern at Halloween.
The stewing process is probably best accomplished in a double boiler to avoid scorching, since the intent is to use just barely enough water to cook all the chunks through and then evaporate.
The rest of the recipe is quite straightforward, until of course we get to those elaborate cooking instructions: “bake nicely.” The usual directions for pumpkin pie baking say to start at 450 degrees for the first 15 minutes and then reduce to 350 for the remaining 45 or so. The use of any sort of top crust is unusual today but might be considered if this is to be made for an educational or other public setting such as a living history exhibit or fundraising project.
We note that this pie is called a pudding but is basically a custard. Thus does nomenclature change over time.
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.
1 and 1/2 pints orange juice
1/2 pint water
1/2 lb. powdered sugar
Take a pint and a half of orange juice, and mix it with half a pint of clear or filtered water. Stir in half a pound of powdered loaf-sugar. Pare very thin the yellow rind of six deep-colored oranges, cut in pieces, and lay it at the bottom of a bowl or tureen. Pour the orange juice and sugar upon it; cover it, and let it infuse an hour. Then strain the liquid into a freezer, and proceed as for ice cream. When it is frozen, put it into a mould, (it will look best in the form of a pine-apple), and freeze it a second time. Serve it in glass cups, with any sort of very nice sweet cakes.
From Miss Leslie’s Directions for Cookery by Eliza Leslie, 1851
Comment: Yes, indeed, they did have ice cream, sherbet and similar concoctions in the Civil War era, and well before. What they did not have was such items that we take entirely for granted today, like cheap orange juice, sugar sold in granulated form (in the 19th century it was normally sold in solid cones, from which the requisite amount was chipped and then grated or ground in a mortar to achieve crystalline form), and for that matter pure water on demand at every tap. This is clearly a recipe intended for the well-to-do, as only they were likely to have the above-mentioned items as well as the money to buy ice-cream freezers and the number of oranges required to squeeze a pint and a half of juice.
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.
6 egg whites, beaten
Juice of 1 orange or lemon
Fine granulated or powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot
Butter for coating baking sheet
Beat the white of six eggs to a stiff froth, add the juice of an orange or lemon, and stir into it powdered loaf sugar, a little at a time, till it is of the consistence of thick dough, adding a very little starch. Have ready some small paper cases, about three quarters of an inch square, put some buttered paper on tin sheets, lay on them the cases, drop in each a large tea-spoonful of the sugar and egg, make them smooth, and bake them for a few minutes in a moderate oven; then take them out of the cases, wrap round each a slip of paper containing a single verse [poem] or pun [joke], and envelope [wrap] them separately in small pieces of fine white paper that is neatly fringed, giving each end a twist.
From The Kentucky Housewife by Lettice Bryan, 1839
Comment: We are not sure whether these are better compared to homemade fortune cookies (for the written content), Hershey’s kisses (for the wrapping style) or Peeps (for the resulting sweet product itself.) As any such speculation is liable to draw us stern letters from the copyright attorneys of the companies involved, we will refrain from comparisons of any sort.
As far as the recipe itself is concerned, we note only that “powdered loaf sugar” means just plain granulated sugar in today’s terms. Sugar was at this time sold in solid lumps from which one had to grind or grate the amount needed for a given recipe. If you do choose to use a finer grade, check the packaging carefully for ingredients. Even those labeled “100% pure cane sugar” may contain cornstarch to keep the product loose and powdery. In this case the cornstarch or arrowroot called for in the recipe may be omitted.
2 dozen ears corn
1 tsp. salt
1 tbs. sugar
1 qt. milk
2 eggs, beaten
2-3 tbs. butter
Grease a deep earthen baking dish with butter; grate with a coarse grater 2 dozen ears of corn, selecting such as are of equal ripeness; add tea-spoonful of salt, tablespoonful white sugar, a quart of milk, and lastly, 2 eggs well beaten; lay a piece of butter rather larger than an egg on top of all, put it into a slow oven, bake 4 hours; if the oven is too quick [hot] it will make the pudding curdle; when done it should be nicely brown all over, and the consistency of warm mush. Good for tea or dinner; may be eaten with sugar, but a little butter is better.
From The Economical Cook-Book by Elizabeth Nicholson, 1865.
Comment: Here we see a clear indication of the complete change that has come over the corn-growing process since the advent of large commercial agribusiness. In the 19th century corn was simply corn, without the distinction that exists today between “sweet corn” intended for human consumption and “field corn” grown to be fed to animals. (We will leave varieties intended for industrial uses like corn syrup out of the discussion entirely.)
So “green corn” here is not intended to mean that which is under-ripe, which would produce nothing but an inedible mess if cooked and severe indigestion if eaten. The ears should be fully grown, fresh and full of juice. The longer they age after ripening the harder and more dried out the kernels become, setting it on a path which would lead to the grist mill and a future as corn meal, hominy, grits, or dried cracked corn.