April 30 ...
Yesterday’s find of eighteenth century Fairy Butter delighted me, although I am not sure why – perhaps because it is a is a fun recipe from a time when cookbook writers were not at all frivolous.
What do fairies eat, really? I have no idea, but I am informed that if you leave food out for them, should there appear to be any leftovers next morning - avoid the temptation to scoff them yourself – do not even feed them to the domestic animals, - for the fairies have taken all the substance from your gift.
As for Fairy Butter, it appears that fairies do indeed have a thing for that mellow yellow grease. On May Day (tomorrow), they are entitled to steal any butter left unattended – so unless you can keep your eye on your fridge all day tomorrow, it might be best to use all your butter up today. Have a baking frenzy. Have a Fairy Party. Here are a couple of entirely appropriate recipes to keep you busy.
For this pretty, fanciful pastry, make a good shortcrust. When very thinly and evenly rolled out, cut with a tin cutter, procured for the purpose, as many sheets of crust for the foundation of the pastry as are required; then with a round tin cutter of about an inch in diameter, and another of half the size make eight rings of crust, and carefully place two – one of each size, the largest at the bottom – on the four corners of the foundation previously formed. The rings should be brushed with white of egg to make them adhere. Bake in a slow oven, as the pastry should be of a pale tint. When cold, fill each of the four rounds with differently coloured jams or jellies. The above may also be iced with sugar, or made of almond paste, and the rings coloured according to fancy, and filled with whipped cream.
[Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery, 1870]
And here is a delightful contribution to our Gingerbread through the Ages archive:
½ cup butter.
1 cup light brown sugar.
½ cup milk.
1 ⅞ cups bread flour.
2 teaspoons ginger.
Cream the butter, add sugar gradually, and milk very slowly. Mix and sift flour and ginger, and combine mixtures. Spread very thinly with a broad, long-bladed knife on a buttered, inverted dripping pan. Bake in a moderate oven. Cut in squares before removing from pan. Watch carefully and turn pan frequently during baking, that all may be evenly cooked. If mixture around edge of pan is cooked before that in the centre, pan should be removed from oven, cooked part cut off, and remainder returned to oven to finish cooking.
Tomorrow’s Story …
Quotation for the Day …
We did not immediately come up with Béarnaise, Bercy, and Poivrade sauces. It took more than a single attempt to discover reduced cream, marinade, and forcemeat. We did not straightaway invent barding fat, the touch of garlic, and the thin slice of truffle under the skin.... While genius is spontaneous, its manifestations nevertheless require the passage of time before glorious perfection is achieved. This is particularly true in the area of food and drink .... Magical dishes, magical words: a great cook is, when all is said and done, a great poet. . . . For was it not a visit from the Muses that inspired the person who first had the idea of marrying rice and chicken, grape and thrush, potatoes and entrecôte, Parmesan and pasta, aubergine and tomato, Chambertin and cockerel, liqueur brandy and woodcock, onion and tripe?
Marcel Étiennegrancher, 'Cinquante Ans a Table' (1953)