Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year’s Cookies and Cakes.

There are just a couple of days left to do some New Year baking. You could go the nutritious, historically intriguing, but rather stolid route and make some Ankerstock, but you probably wont.

You could instead make New Year Cakes from the recipe below, provided of course that you have ‘man, or a very strong woman’ to do the kneading for you. I wont make these, I assure you. The dough sounds like a rich, sweet scone dough, and as every good baker knows, the rule for scones is mix as lightly and quickly as possible. Even if it is intended to be like a rich, sweet bread dough, I don’t understand the insistence on such serious kneading. Perhaps one of the serious bread-bakers amongst you could make comment?

The New Year Cookies given below also seem like a cheat - they sound more like sweet crackers than sweet biscuits (cookies, if you insist.) Is there no Christmas fruit cake left?

New-Year's Cake.
Three pounds of flour, sifted.
A pound and a half of powdered white sugar.
A pound of fresh butter.
A pint of milk with a small teaspoonful of pearl-ash melted in it.
Having sifted the flour, spread the sugar on the paste-board, a little at a time, and crush it to powder by rolling it with the rolling-pin. Then mix it with the flour. Cut up in the flour the butter and mix it well by rubbing it in with your bands. Add by degrees the milk. Then knead the dough very hard, till it no longer sticks to your hands. Cover it, set it away for an hour or two, and then knead it again in the same manner. You may repeat the kneading several times. Then cut it into pieces, roll out each piece into a sheet half an inch thick. Cut it into large flat cakes with a tin cutter. You may stamp each cake with a wooden print, by way of ornamenting the surface.
Sprinkle with flour some large flat tin or iron pans, lay the cakes in them and bake them of a pale brown, in an oven of equal heat throughout.
These cakes require more and harder kneading than any others, therefore it is best to have them kneaded by a man, or a very strong woman.
They are greatly improved by the addition of some carraway seeds worked into the dough.
Seventy-five receipts for pastry, cakes and sweetmeats, (1830) by Eliza Leslie

New Year Cookies.
Rub three fourths of a cup of butter into six cups of flour. Pour half a cup of boiling water over one cup and a half of sugar, add a scant half teaspoonful of soda, and when the sugar is melted, stir all into the flour. Roll out thin.
Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book: What to Do and what Not to Do in Cooking (1883)
Quotation for the Day.
Every country possesses, it seems, the sort of cuisine it deserves, which is to say the sort of cuisine it is appreciative enough to want.
Waverley Lewis Root

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