Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Size matters.

July 30 ....

Only a little story today my friends, but on a big topic.

Families (or ‘households’, for one had to count the servants) were much larger in previous times, and recipes simply had to be bigger. Yesterday’s source – the American Farmer journal of 1823 – included the following cake recipe (remember – this was way before electric blenders, beaters, processors)

Black Cake, much esteemed.
Three pounds of butter and three pounds of sugar beat to a cream, three glasses of brandy and two of rose-water, twenty-eight eggs, and three pounds of flour added by degrees together, six pounds of currants, six pounds of seeded raisins, one ounce of cinnamon, one ounce of cloves, half an ounce of mace, one pound of citron. (Two large loaves baked five hours).

That’s a lot of beating. Bakers must have looked like body-builders in those days. No need to go to the gym to work off the extra slice of cake – you worked it off in advance.

‘Black’ cake intrigues me. When did simple old dark ‘fruit’ cake become ‘black’ cake?

Quotation for the Day …

"I prefer to regard a dessert as I would imagine the perfect woman: subtle, a little bittersweet, not blowsy and extrovert. Delicately made up, not highly rouged. Holding back, not exposing everything and, of course, with a flavor that lasts."
Graham Kerr (the Galloping Gourmet) 1960s


T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Ha! And given the price of food these days, that would be some investment along with the gymn membership! Sounds like they would have had to use a flatbed truck for a cake pan!

The Old Foodie said...

Ah! t.w. - I knew, somehow, that you would love the idea of a cake (making) that would be beneficial for the health. So - can we expect a scaled-down version on Culinary Types soon? With an explanation on the name of 'black' cake?

~~louise~~ said...

I was just reading an article in American Kitchen Magazine (1899) titled Curious West Indian Eatables. Although there was no recipe included, I'm assuming the "black" in the cake comes from the use of (burnt) brown sugar and rum as opposed to the English version of brandy. I actually found a great article in the New York Times too.
Black Cake

Ok T.W. the ball is your court:)