Friday, April 23, 2010

Portugal Cakes.

On this day in 1739, the celebrated “pastry-master”, cookery teacher and cookbook writer Edward Kidder died at the age of seventy-three. In spite of the centuries between us, I am quite fond of Edward. His book Receipts of Pastry for the Use of his Scholars published in London in about 1720) was one of the first historical cookery books that I looked at in any detail – indeed I laboriously transcribed the text from the scanned images of the pages of the version (apparently laboriously copied by a student) held at the University of Pennsylvania. You can still read my transcript here.

Kidder ran two schools in London, and he also gave private lessons in pastry-making and cookery to ladies in their own homes. It is said that over six thousand ladies benefitted from his instruction in cookery – which presumably meant that six thousand entire families were made happier.

If Mr. Kidder personally taught all lessons at his school, then he must have been a very busy man: the frontispiece of one edition of his book reads:

“To all young ladies, at Edward Kidder’s pastry-school in Little Lincoln’s Inn Fields, are taught all sorts of pastry and cookery, Dutch hollow-works, and butter-works, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, in the afternoon; and on the same days in the morning, at his school in Norris-Street, in St James’s Haymarket; and at his school in St. Martin’s le Grand, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, in the afternoon.”

I have no idea what “Dutch hollow-works” are – so methinks I have another topic for the near future.

For the recipe of the day, I give you Edward Kidder’s Portugall Cakes, from the transcription of the student copy. ‘Portugal’ (or portyngalle) was another term for oranges in England from at least the sixteenth century, so perhaps these cakes were so called because of their golden colour? They were also sometimes called Heart Cakes, which is why the instructions call for a ‘hart pan’ in the recipe below.

Portugall Cakes
Put a pd of fine sugar & a pd of fresh butter 5 eggs & a little beaten mace into a flatt pan beat it up wth yor hands till tis very leight & looks curdling yn put thereto a pd of flower ½ a pd of currants very clean pickt &dryd beat yn together fill yor hart pan & bake ym in a slack oven
You may make seed cakes ye same way only put carraway seeds instead of currants

Quotation for the Day.

Eat butter first, and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past.
Old Dutch proverb


Fay said...

Perhaps the "Hollow works" refers to speculaas pressed out in the wooden moulds. They often have holes or hollows in them?
Would fit in with the "butter works", possibly butter cookies/biscuits?

Anonymous said...

In the US at least, a 'Danish' can refer to any filled or folded over pastry; cheese or fruit as the filling. I wonder if 'hollow-works' refers to a filled pastry?

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Fay, and Anonymous. Good ideas - I am about to start trying to find out about "hollow works" - watch out for another blog post!