Friday, April 30, 2010

Treacle Beef.

A few days ago I marveled at the confusion created by the use of different words (shrimp and prawn) being used for essentially the same thing in America and Australia (and England). I am referring to ‘common usage’ of course – no doubt there is no doubt in the minds of zoologists – and I have to admit to having been mighty surprised at not being taken to task by one of those folk, in the wake of that post.

MY recent American visitor (blogger Kathryn McGowan) and I chatted at some length on this amusing issue of our two countries being divided by a common language. One topic of discussion was the difference (if any) between treacle and molasses. To my surprise, I find that I have covered the topic in a previous post. My memory must be failing me. The story also touched on ‘golden syrup’ – a great sugar substitute for the Brits during WW II, and absolutely essential in Australia for making Anzac biscuits and pouring over pikelets.

Treacle (see the previous post) really is a very marvelously versatile ingredient. It is used in many gingerbread recipes (below, in an earlier post this week, and in the Through the Ages with Gingerbread archive), and we have sampled it in treacle beer. It has popped up in many puddings, including the WW I ‘Peace Christmas Pudding’. Here it is in a recipe for preserved, smoked beef.

Dutch, or Hung Beef.
For fourteen pounds weight of the round, the rump, or the thick flank of beef, mix two ounces of saltpetre with the same quantity of coarse sugar; rub the meat with them in every part, and let it remain for two days, then add one pound of bay salt, four ounces of common salt, and one ounce of ground black pepper. Rub these ingredients thoroughly into the beef, and in four days pour over it a pound of treacle; rub and turn it daily for a fortnight; drain, and send it to be smoked. When wanted for table, lay it into plenty of cold water, boil it very slowly, and press it under a heavy weight while hot. A slice of this beef, from which the edges have been carefully trimmed, will serve to flavour soups or gravies as well as ham.
Beef, 14 lbs; saltpetre and coarse sugar, each 2 ozs.: 2 days
Bay salt, 1 lb.; common salt, 4ozs; pepper, 1 oz.: 4 days.
Treacle, 1 lb,: 14 days.
Obs. – Three quarters of a pound of coarse sugar may be rubbed into the meat at first, and the treacle may be altogether omitted: cloves and mace may be added in the same proportion for spiced beef.
Modern Cookery, Eliza Acton, 1845

Treacle has a long history of medicinal use too. I rather like the sound of this common cold remedy:

Treacle Posset
Boil a pint of milk, stir in two tablespoonfuls of treacle, let it boil up, and when the curds have well formed, strain the whey through a fine sieve into a basin, and serve hot at bedtime as a remedy for a cold.
Cookery for Invalids: Persons of Delicate Digestion, and for Children; Mary Hooper, 1876

And because we don’t make puddings nearly often enough these days, I give you for your winter delectation, an unashamedly very treacly treacle pudding from Queen Victoria’s chef.

A Treacle Pudding.
Ingredients: two pounds of flour, twelve ounces of treacle, six ounces of suet or dripping fat, a quarter of an ounce of baking powder, a pinch of allspice, a little salt, one pint of milk, or water. Mix the whole of the above-named ingredients in a pan, into a firm compact paste; tie it up in a well-greased and floured pudding cloth; boil the pudding for at least two hours and a half, and when done, cut it in slices, and pour a little sweetened melted butter over it.
Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, Charles Elmé Francatelli, 1861

Quotation for the Day.

A waffle is like a pancake with a syrup trap.
Mitch Hedberg.

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