Tuesday, January 22, 2013

To Make Rich Cake

I have been on a cake kick lately. Mostly because I love to bake. I was planning on making this cake for Twelfth Night, but the ingredients proved harder to find than I had thought.  The original recipe comes from "The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy", 1774.  While this is an 18th Century Recipe  I can only imagine that these types of cakes were cooked well into the 19th Century. I must admit that I did cheat a bit with this cake, since Williamsburg's History is Served has already transcribed this recipe for the modern cook. You can find their recipe here.  

First, gather all of your ingredients  To me, it seemed like a lot of things for one cake, mostly because of all of the candies fruits that need to go in.  The "new" recipe calls for almond flour, which I could not find locally, and I have not justified ordering any yet. So, I decided to go with the original recipe, and blanch & sack almonds until fine.  While I had never done this before the process was easy, just a little time consuming.  After the skins were removed, I placed the whole almonds in a towel and started to whack them with a meat cleaver. I will warn you, when you start to "sack" the almonds, make sure no one in the house is trying to nap. This is loud, but kinda fun. You do really have to whack them for a while to get them to a flour-like consistency  (You could use a food processor to make this faster, but I was trying to keep things "real".)

Now that all of the ingredients are ready. Start creaming your butter & sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, I used 8 in all. When the eggs are fully  mixed in, sift the flour in a separate bowl. I used about 4 cups of cake flour (Swans Down is a family favorite) 2 cups of granulated sugar, almond flour, and spice go in at this time as well. Mix all of the dry ingredients together, then add gradually to the butter mixture. The batter forms a nice consistency. After the cake batter is well blended, its time for the special ingredients, the sweet-meats! Candied lemon peel, orange peel & citron, as well as currants all go in then the Brandy & Sherry. The alcohol is more for preservation, but also adds a nice rich flavor to the batter.

After everything is added, put in a bunt pan and bake at 350. I actually baked the cake in 2 small pans. Remove from the oven and cool before taking it out of the pan. Then allow to cool completely before slicing. The cake is very good! Essentially it is a pound cake with fruits in it. Yes, it took me a minute to realize that.  I did freeze one of the cakes for a later event.  Overall, a good recipe, not too sweet, but full of flavor!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cider Cake

Yes, another Cider Cake.  For some reason I have been hung up on cakes, and since I still had some cider in the house I thought I would go ahead and try the Cider Cake a different way. This go round I tried The Kentucky Housewife's, 1839 version.  The recipe is a bit different, as it call for eggs.
Using a nice large bowl add a stick and a half of butter to 1 cup of sugar, cream together. Add the six eggs well beaten to the creamed mixture, then 2 cups of apple cider (the recipe denotes "sweet" cider as apposed to the popular alcoholic cider of the 19th Century). The recipe calls for 2 grated nutmegs, I added a teaspoon of ground nutmeg, I did not want the flavor to be too overpowering. Then add the flour gradually as you go to make a thick batter. I added the flour one cup at a time, mixing well as I went, I ended up using about 4 1/2 cups of flour to make what I thought was a thick batter, about the consistency of modern cake batter. I did not add raisins to this cake, I was out.

I added the mix to a 10" buttered bunt cake pan and placed it in a moderate (350) oven. This recipe does not specify how long the cake will take to bake, I started checking at 20 minutes. I took the cake out of the oven after about 40 minutes of baking it seemed to be done.

This cake is the opposite of the last Cider Cake. The last cake was crumbly, this one is the opposite. This cake was thick and very dense. The flavor was sweeter than the last one, at least to me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Macaroni and Cheese?!?! Really?!? Who knew it was that easy in the 19th century? Well, sorta. This Macaroni recipe is taken from The Virginia Housewife, 1838.  And if you are looking for something easy and yummy for a crowd, this is the perfect recipe!
There are no exact measurements for this one, which does make it easy and a good "go-to".  Boil your noodles (you really want to use a straight noodles like "macaroni" or "penne" not elbow macaroni, this is a later invention).  This macaroni is built in layers. After draining the noodles, place enough in the bottom of the pan to cover, then add cheese and butter,  and repeat. I chose a 9 x 13 baking pan at home, since it was easiest in the oven.
I used a whole box of noodles and a block of sharp cheddar, sliced thin. You want to keep the slice fairly thin so they melt well. The amount of butter is up to the individual, you want enough to give a flavor, but not too much, I almost used too much.

Place the dish in a nice hot oven (350 to 400) for about 15 to 20 minutes. I left mine in for about 15 minutes, I was hungry :)

There is really nothing  bad to say about a nice hot bowl of mac & cheese! This would be great as a side dish with a nice meat at an evening meal or as a bring-a-long dish for a potluck!

Cider Cake

The holiday season brings with it a slew of sweet cakes, cookies, and other goodies. In that festive way I decided to try a new cake. This recipe comes from The Frugal Housewife, 1833.  I have seen many other recipes for Cider Cake, but this was the book I had in my kitchen and didn't have to look up another recipe!
Modern measurements for this recipe are 6 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of apple cider and 1 tsp of baking soda.

Mixing all the ingredients in a bowl the batter seemed very stiff, almost like a bread, and less like a cake. I did add more cider as I went to moisten the batter and make it more manageable.  "Spice to your taste," well that can mean anything right? Well, almost. Looking at other recipes from the period, most of the Cider Cakes call for raisins, and of coarse some nutmeg. I added about a handful of raisins, and maybe less than a teaspoon of nutmeg ( I did not want to over-power the Cider).
Since I do not have any small loaf pans I decided to bake this cake in a small bunt cake pan that i have that has space for 6 cakes.  I did have enough batter to fill a small 8" round pan as well.  The batter was very thick, think cookie dough almost. In the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes, depending on your cake pan and oven. Start checking your cake about 20 minutes in to see if it is done.   Mine took about 30 minutes to cook, so Mrs. Child was right on with my oven!
The cake had a very good taste, but again, very dense and heavy.  I think next time I will try the Kentucky Housewife version which call for eggs, that may change the consistency a bit and make more of a "cake" that we are used to.