Friday, March 23, 2007

Fannie’s Birthday.

Today, March 23rd ….

Fannie Merritt Farmer was born in Boston on this day in 1857 - which may not mean much to those of you who are not cookbook afficionados. If you like cooking and baking however, you have reason to be grateful as she brought a new level of science to cookery and recipe writing which led to her being called “the mother of level measurements.” If you are an aspiring cookbook writer she could be your guru – her Boston Cooking-School Cookbook (1896) was still being reprinted a hundred years later.

Fannie was set for a college education, her family being progressive for the time and believing in education for girls. Then in her teens she had some sort of illness – perhaps polio – and was an invalid for several years and walked with a limp all her life. There were few occupations open to women who needed to make their own living in those days, and Fannie at the age of about thirty enrolled in the Boston Cooking School, aiming to be a cookery teacher. She did better, and remained on as its assistant principal in 1891. Later she left and started her own school, and one way or another she taught cooking and nutrition until a few days before she died at the age of 56.

Fannie felt that her legacy would be her teaching and writing on nutrition and invalid cookery, in which her own health problems had provided a particular interest, but I am sure that she wouldn’t mind that I have chosen a couple of classic cake recipes for today - for what is a birthday without cake? These are from her book A new book of cookery : eight hundred and sixty recipes, covering the whole range of cookery ... published in 1912.

Grandmother's Pound Cake
1 cup butter, 1 2/3 cups sugar, 5 eggs, 2 cups flour
Work butter until creamy, using the hand, and add sugar, gradually, while beating constantly; then add eggs one at a time, beating vigorously between
the addition of each. When the mixture is of a creamy consistency, fold in the flour and turn into a buttered and floured cake pan. Bake one hour in a slow oven.

Lady Baltimore Cake
1 cup butter, 3 ½ cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, Whites 6 eggs .
Cream butter and add sugar gradually, while beating constantly. Mix and sift baking powder and flour and add alternately with milk to first mixture; then add flavoring and cut and fold in whites of eggs, beaten until stiff and dry. Turn into three buttered
and floured seven-inch square tins and bake in a moderate oven. Put layers together with Fruit and Nut Filling and cover top and sides of cake with Fruit and Nut Filling, then with Ice Cream Frosting.

Fruit and Nut Filling.
3 cups sugar, 1 cup raisins seeded and chopped, 1 cup water 1 cup chopped pecan nut meats, Whites 3 eggs 5 figs, cut in thin strips.
Put sugar and water in a smooth graniteware saucepan, bring to the boiling point and let boil until syrup will spin a thread when dropped from tip of spoon. Pour gradually, while beating constantly, on whites of eggs, beaten until stiff, and continue the beating until mixture is of right consistency to spread ; then add remaining ngredients. One-half this quantity may be made and used between layers only.

Ice Cream Frosting.
2 cups sugar, Whites 2 eggs, 1/3 cup water, ½ teaspoon vanilla.
Put sugar and water in smooth graniteware saucepan; bring to the boiling point and let boil until syrup will spin a thread when dropped from tip of spoon. Pour gradually, while beating constantly, on whites of eggs, beaten until stiff (but not dry), and continue the beating until mixture is of right consistency to spread; then add flavoring.
[see a real version of the cake at Culinary Types]

Monday’s Story …

On the road again.

This Day Last Year …

Every scrap of fat was saved in WW II

Quotation for the Day …

Progress in civilization has been accompanied by progress in cookery. Fannie Farmer.

5 comments:

Gillian said...

I'm talking about you behind your back again. http://gillpolack.livejournal.com/240230.html

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Gillian - talking behind my back is good as long as you say nice things, which you do. Thankyou. We should dedicate a week of Womens History Month to Women in Culinary History. What do you say?

T.W. Barritt said...

Happy Birthday to Fannie! I wonder what the story is behind Lady Baltimore Cake? That is an intriguing name ...

The Old Foodie said...

I think there are a number of theories about Lady Baltimore cake - I have some notes somewhere - I'll maybe do an extra post on it at the weekend. I thing there is a "Lord Baltimore cake" too.

linda ringwood said...

A very Happy zbirthday to Fannie...may her soul rest in peace...this is a lovely post and very emotive...u can also peep into my blog for some cool stuffs on birthday along with few cute egreetings..have a good day :)