Monday, September 29, 2008

Toffee Time.

I leave England today for home. About 30 hours travel I reckon, including hanging around at Heathrow before the flight, then a couple of hours each in Dubai and Brunei airports. Not that I care, really, I have my Sony e-Reader – a gift from my lovely spouse before I left. Never again to have that dreadful panic about running out of reading material en voyage. Heaven, for a readaholic, is 150 books in one small device. I only got time to upoad 40 or so before I left, but it has been enough …

But I digress. For this week I will either be in planes or airports, or recovering from same, or catching up on family, friends, and emails. So – short posts which will be set up to pop up at the usual time. On confectionary, methinks, as on reflection I have neglected the sweetie, candy, lollie department so far. A quick but not necessarily complete review shows that we have had:

- A story called ‘Candy for health’, and a recipe for Liquorish Cakes.

- A story about nougat and a recipe for sugared fruits (the original sweetmeats)

- A story about Kendal Mint Cake with a recipe for ‘Sugar of Roses’

- A story about the Maquis de Sade, and a recipe for Caraway comfits.

- A story about Lammas, and Yellowman (honeycomb toffee)

- Dulcia Domestica (Ancient Roman sweets made from dates)

- Candy in Cakes.

- Jelly Babies, Jujubes, and Dr.Who.

- Tomato marshmallows.

- And of course, a number of stories on chocolate in all its dark brown glory.

Which leaves a lot yet uncovered.

Today is Toffee Day.

‘Toffee’ is a word that puzzles the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary, who say it is of ‘uncertain origin’, and possibly a dialect word. It is sometimes spelled tuffy or toughy, and is a later form of taffy. The first mention, according to the OED which is marvellous but not infallible, is 1817 for taffy and 1825 for toughy (the quotation says is is named for its toughness.). Given that words are usually in use for some time before they are enshrined in a quotable publication, it looks like toffee as we know it might be a late eighteenth century idea.

The first references to toffee/taffy suggest it was made from treacle or molasses. The recipe I have chosen for today is for Everton Toffee. I have no idea why it is so-called, and would love it if you do, and let us all know in the comments. The thing I like about this recipe is that it proves you can make candy without a sugar thermometer – all you need is a clean tobacco pipe.

Everton Toffee.
Boil half an ounce of bruised ginger in half a pint of water till it obtains the flavour of ginger; strain it, put the liquor into a saucepan, add two pounds of sugar and one ounce of butter; let them simmer gently over the fire for some time, then take a piece of clean tobacco pipe, dip it into cold water, then with it stir the mixure round, plunge the pipe into the water, if the sugar adheres to it and becomes crisp, pour it into tins which have been buttered ready for use.
The Frugal Cook, by E.Carter (1851)


Liz + Louka said...

You missed your post on vegetable candy ( - or is that too healthy to count?

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks LizLouka - fixed! (how could I forget that?)

Anonymous said...

I'm coming in a little late here as I'm catching up on your blog after being away. I found a reference to Everton Toffee on the Everton Football Club Supporters site! It's a team in Liverpool. Apparently, the nickname for the club is "The Toffees" or "The Toffeemen." And here's why:

"Ye Anciente Everton Toffee House was located within a "mint ball's throw" of the Queen's Head Hotel in Village Street, where much of Everton's early development as a Football Club occurred. The Toffee House was the operation of Old Ma Bushell, who was the original Toffee Lady, and actually invented Everton Toffees. This confectionery was sold in huge quantities to the hungry hordes as they journeyed from far and wide to watch Everton play in the new Football League, firstly in Stanley Park, and Priory Road. Then at Anfield, Everton's third ground."

There's more here:

Thanks for your fun and informative web site!

Anonymous said...

Anfield is actually Liverpool FC's ground. Goodison Park is Everton's stadium.