I came across a recipe for cider cake recently, and it made me remember previous posts on cooking with beer and with sherry. Why not cooking with cider? Naturally, one can use it as one would use wine, in casserole-type dishes, especially those made from pork, but what else?
If you happen to have a huge surplus of cider, you can make cider vinegar or cider brandy, of course, but these are outside the range of the average householder, methinks. How about the following ideas, if your surplus is more modest?
Stir 2 tablespoonfuls of sifted flour and 6 fresh yolks of egg into 1 quart of cider and 1 quart of water, sweeten, and add a few slices of lemon without seeds, a pinch of salt, and put on the fire in a pot that has been thoroughly cleaned. Stir constantly with a wire egg-beater over a hot fire, and as soon as it boils, pour into a tureen, into which a little powdered mace (outer hull of nutmeg) has been put. The whites of the eggs may be beaten stiff and formed into small dumplings, which are then put on top of the soup and dusted with sugar. If the cover is quickly put on, the dumplings will be cooked before the tureen reaches the table. Serve sugared croutons or sweet biscuits with the soup, which may be varied by taking the whole eggs, instead of the yolk only, and only half the quantity of flour. This will make the soup frothy. In either case, the soup will be delicious.
The Standard Domestic Science Cook Book, Chicago, 1908.
Two pounds of flour, two teacupsful of suet chopped fine, a cupful of raisins or currants. Mix well with cider until it is a stiff batter. Boil two hours. This will be found equal to plum pudding.
Genesee Farmer, Vol 25, 1864
Cider cake is very good, to be baked in small loaves. One pound and a half of flour, half a pound of sugar, quarter of a pound of butter, half a pint of cider, one tea-spoonful of pearlash; spice to your taste. Bake till it turns easily in the pans. I should think about half an hour.
Mrs. Ellis's housekeeping made easy, or, Complete instructor in all branches, by Sarah Stickney Ellis (1843)
Quotation for the Day.
Give me yesterday's Bread, this Day's Flesh, and last Year's Cyder.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) ‘Poor Richard's Almanac’
I made the cider cake a few years ago - it's included in the guide-book to Merchat House Museum in NYC and I could not resist - but found it extremely compact and rather heavy to eat. Which begs the question (aside from my messig up the baking-process, of course!): might the flour in the mid-19th century have been whiter than I supposed when I used whole-wheat, or is pearl ash a better leavening agent than baking powder?
interesting questions, Bart. I think that generally speaking, cakes were more dense and heavy back then - we have gotten so used to light fluffy cakes that they are now our gold stander. White flour of good quality was certainly available back then - but possibly higher in gluten, which would make for a denser cake. I don't know about the pearash vs baking powder, but will look into it.
In New England there is a tradition of using cider syrup in baked custard pies, or stirred into sliced apples for pies. I made some last fall by boiling a gallon of cider down to a cup of syrup. Rather sharp tasting (I found the cider cream pie too intense) but very interesting. Makes a lovely pork glaze too.
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