Tuesday, January 12, 2010

American Condums for Breakfast?

Yesterday’s flirtation with a suggestive blog post title was so much fun, I just had to follow it with a little mystery I have been hoarding for ages. There is indeed a recipe for such a thing as ‘American condums’, and they are indeed recommended for breakfast. They appear in The Pastrycook and Confectioners Guide, by  Robert Wells, 1889.

American Condums
(For Breakfast)
Use the same dough as for plain breakfast rolls; mould them up the shape of an egg, but the dough must be if anything a little tighter: when moulded take your pin and press it on the middle of the roll; have a tin or board with a cloth laid on it well dusted with flour, lay your condums on the cloth, and let a small piece of the cloth between each condum to keep them from sticking.
Prove, and bake on the oven bottom.

Plain Breakfast Rolls.
Set a sponge with 8 lbs. of Hungarian or best flour; give it 4 oz. of good German yeast, and let the water be of the same heat as for rye bread. It should be ready in about two hours. Dissolve 2 oz. of salt in a small cup of water, mix it well in the sponge, and make it into dough. Let it stand a little till it proves; then work it off into long rolls; lay them side by side on an edged pan, grease the ends, let them prove, and bake in a sharp oven.

Now, I am greatly intrigued by this condum thing, as I am sure you are. The contraceptive device with a similar name has been around since at least the early eighteenth century (and probably, in some form or another, a lot longer). Why would anyone call a perfectly respectable breakfast bread-roll such as you would be proud to put before elderly maiden aunt, by such a snigger-inducing name? The bread dough is rolled in a ‘sheath’ of kitchen cloth, it is true, but this seems a little salacious for a respectable cookery book of the time, does it not?

Of course, the dictionary might be to blame, as respectable dictionaries did not include such words as condom until well into the twentieth century. It is possible that there were pastrycooks and bakers of the 1880’s who had led such pure and sheltered lives as to not have learned of their existence in other ways. It is possible. If this is the case, however, it still begs the question of what then, are these bread rolls named for?

Any ideas, you ‘Americans’ out there?

Quotation for the Day.

Anyone who eats three meals a day should understand why cookbooks outsell sex books three to one.


Rebecca said...

I just discovered your blog and am so delighted!! I don't have any idea why one would want condums for breakfast, but keep up the great work! I found you while searching for info on Waldorf Salad, and linked to you in my post today. Cheers!

EB said...

As an American... those 'pure' and 'sheltered' bakers... never existed. We are the most hypocritical lot around. While the word may not have been spoken, or featured in the dictionary, it was most certainly known of!

The Old Foodie said...

Thankyou, EB - you have confirmed my deepest suspicions :)
Any of your professional colleagues ever heard of the bread rolls with this name though?

The Old Foodie said...

Rebecca - thanks for the link!