Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Perfumed Cake.

After this week’s gastronomical traumas of ersatz coffee and rhubarb with ketchup, I feel that perhaps we need something comforting today. From a new find - One Hundred and One Layer Cakes, by May E Southworth, (San Francisco and New York, 1907) - I give you an exceedingly fragrant, and very girly cake.

Violet [Layer Cake]
Cream a half-cupful of butter; add a cupful of sugar and cream again. Sift together a teaspoonful of baking-powder, one and a half cupfuls of flour and a quarter of a teaspoonful of salt; add this to the butter and sugar with a half-cupful of milk and the beaten whites of four eggs. Flavor with a teaspoonful of violet-extract and four drops of vanilla.
Whip a pint of cream dry and stiff; add the beaten whites of three eggs and a half-cupful of confectioner’s sugar. Flavor with a teaspoonful of crème yvette cordial and a half-teaspoonful of vanilla. Color violet with coloring paste. Put this between the two layers and make a plain icing for the top flavored with crème yvette. Decorate with crystallized violets, making stems of shredded angelica.

And to gild the lily, what better than some violet tea?

Violet Tea.
This is a soothing beverage for persons suffering from bronchitis and similar affections. Put a teaspoonful of dried violets in a jar, and pour upon them half a pint of boiling water. Let them infuse for five minutes, strain the liquor, sweeten with honey, and it will be fit for use.
Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery, c.1870’s

Quotation for the Day.

I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board.
Henry David Thoreau.


Rachel said...

Oh how very beautiful it all sounds. I love the orange blossom perfuming of Algerian cakes and want to play with other flavorings. This sounds just the thing!

The Old Foodie said...

It does sound rather gorgeous, doesnt it? Let us know if you make this cake (or a variation of it) wont you?

Deana Sidney said...

where does one get violet extract.. it sounds too divine!

Anonymous said...

Oh, my, that does sound good!

My medieval recipe collection abounds with recipes using cowslips, elder blossoms, etc., etc. I'm finally tackling one of them this year. According to one of the German cookbooks, you can turn almonds blue using fresh cornflowers, then use the almonds to make almond milk, which will also be blue, then use the almond milk to make any of several creamy things, which will of course also be blue. First my SCA chapter has to grow the cornflowers. If you're interested, I'll report back with results by the end of the summer (hopefully). I'm particularly interested in the taste because some of these colored recipes sacrifice flavor.

It's also possible, BTW, to make deliciously cilantro-y stuffed eggs that are green a la Dr. Seuss by combining the hard-cooked yolks with cilantro juice. Got that one from _An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the 13th Century.

Jenny Islander

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Jenny - I would love to hear how the cornflower experiments go. It sounds like a wonderful project. And I am definitely going to try the green eggs!

The Old Foodie said...

Hello lostpastremembered - sorry for the delayed response, I have had some computer hassles and got behind. I dont know where to get violet extract - maybe a specialist cake supplier? the cake does sound amazing, doesnt it?