What New Year food are you planning for tonight and tomorrow? Many cultures have a particular New Year food tradition. Of course there are many dates for New Year, depending on the country, religion, and historic time, but for most of us in the West, tonight is New Year’s Eve. Before the partying starts, some thought must go into the celebratory food, and the one I have for you today requires some advance preparation. It also fits, I think, neatly into the ‘forgotten food’ that has been a bit of a theme this week.
In Scotland, once upon a time, there was Ankerstock. I am officially considering it ‘forgotten’ because the Oxford English Dictionary does not know it. Ankerstock (or Anchor-Stock, Ankerstock, Ankerstoke) was a spiced rye bread with currants, sometimes called Ankerstock Gingerbread (which means it also fits in the Through the Ages with Gingerbread archive.) Its name apparently refers to “some fancied resemblance to the stock of an anchor” – although whether this means its shape or its weight and solidity is a bit unclear.
Most mentions of Ankerstock in the literature refer to a single source – an article in Blackwood Magazine of December 1821.
“One of the first demonstrations of the approach of Christmas in Edinburgh was the annual appearance of large tables of anchor-stocks at the head of the Old Fish-market Close. These anchor-stocks, the only species of bread made from rye that I have ever observed offered for sale in the city, were exhibited in every variety of size and price, from a halfpenny to a halfcrown.”
Luckily for us, Maria Rundell included a recipe for Ankerstock in her wonderful book Domestic Economy, and Cookery, for rich and poor, in1827.
Ankerstock or Rye Bread
Requires very little yest [yeast]; mix with the water from two to six ounces of treacle for each pound of flour; let it be strained through a very fine gauze or lawn sieve, as treacle is often adulterated with sand; add salt, caraway, or anise of Verdun; the rye being sweet, the additional sweet gives it a determination, and corrects a disease to which that grain is liable, and makes the bread pleasant, healthy, and nourishing. It is an excellent sea store.
Quotation for the Day …
Gastronomers of the year 1825, who find satiety in the lap of abundance, and dream of some newly-made dishes, you will not enjoy the discoveries which science has in store for the year 1900, such as foods drawn from the mineral kingdom, liqueurs produced by the pressure of a hundred atmospheres; you will never see the importations which travelers yet unborn will bring to you from that half of the globe which has still to be discovered or explored. How I pity you!
Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)