Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sugar and Syrup.

December 5 …

Sir Henry Tate died on this day in 1899, leaving two great bequests to Britain. The grandest is the Tate Gallery in London, which he founded in 1897, and to which he gave his own fine collection of paintings.

His second legacy comes in a distinctive green tin with a small golden lion logo and is available in supermarkets: it is Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup, without which British pudding production would be severely diminished.

Henry Tate was born the son of a Lancashire clergyman, and was apprenticed to a grocer in his teens. He was ambitious and entrepreneurial, and soon built up a chain of his own shops which he sold to buy into the sugar refining business. In 1872 he found his niche when he patented a method for making sugar cubes. Meanwhile, Abram Lyle, a Scot by birth, was also running a successful sugar refinery (on the Thames, as was Tate’s) specialising in syrup. There were many sugar refineries in Britain at the time, and competition was intense, but it appears that the two men had some sort of understanding: Tate would not make syrup and Lyle would not make cubes. The understanding is surprising when you find out that the two men apparently never met – the merger did not take place until 1921, long after both were dead.

No half-serious British home-baker would be without Golden Syrup in the pantry. It is almost inconceivable to a British housewife that there are bakers around the world that do not know its golden caramelly delights. Those who don’t bake still keep it – to put on toast, or scones, or pancakes. It just about saved Britain when sugar was rationed during World War II.

Here is a WWII sugar-conserving, bread-saving, steamed pudding recipe from a booklet produced by the Stork margarine company:

Coffee Toffee Pudding.
4 oz self-raising flour
4 oz stale breadcrumbs
2 oz sultanas
2 tablespoonsful golden syrup (or 4 oz sugar)
1 tablespoonful coffee essence
1 egg beaten up into 1 teacupful milk
3 oz Stork margarine.

Brush a pudding basin and a doubled paper with melted Stork. Melt the Stork, add the golden syrup or sugar and the coffee essence and warm gently. Set aside to cool. Sieve the self-raising flour into a basin, add the breadcrumbs and the sultanas, cleaned in a little flour. Pour the coffee mixture on the beaten egg and milk, and pour this liquid on to the flour etc, beating well. Put the mixture into the prepared basin, cover with prepared paper and steam for 2 ½ hours. Serve with Custard Sauce.
[The Stork Wartime Cookery Book]

Tomorrow’s Story …

Tea for Christmas.

Quotation for the Day …

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza. Dave Barry.

1 comment:

Joanna said...

And another great legacy ... the Tate Library at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. HMC used to be Manchester College, the peripatetic non-conformist college which acquired a permanent home in Oxford in the late 19th Century, which is when the Tate library was built. The college's degrees were for many decades validated by the University of London, but it is now a full college of Oxford University, and takes only mature students. It's a wonderful place (as you can probably guess, it's my alma mater).

I think the Tate family also paid for the chapel, which has stained glass by Burne Jones and William Morris.

I always buy Tate and Lyle golden syrup ;)