Rosewater was used in Europe (in the kitchens of the rich) from at least medieval times. It was included in all manner of dishes, both sweet and savoury (although as we know, this distinction was not made back then.) I don’t know of any book detailing the definitive history of the use of rosewater in Europe, so someone surely ought to write it? In the meanwhile, I must resort to sweeping generalisations, such as suggesting that it was imported from the exotic east and not home-made, and that the use of it began to decline when vanilla became more accessible in the nineteenth century. Certainly it essentially disappeared from English cookery, even from baked goods, by the end of the century. A sad loss, which makes one think that the good-old days did indeed have some good aspects to them.
There are many recipes in this blog which include rosewater, but today I give you one of my particular favourites.
To make a cake the way of the royal princess, the Lady Elizabeth, daughter to King Charles the First.Take halfe a peck of Flowre, half a pint of Rosewater, a pint of Ale yest, a pinte of cream, boyle it, a pound and a half of Butter, six Egges (leave out the whites), four pounds of Currants, one half pound of Sugar, one Nutmeg, and a little salt, work it very well, and let it stand half an hour by the fire, and then work it again, and then make it up, and let it stand an hour and a half in the Oven; let not your Oven be too hot.
The Queen’s Closet Opened, by W.M (1655)
Quotation for the Day.
How many flowers there are which only serve to produce essences, which could have been made into savory dishes.
Charles Pierre Monselet (1825-1888)