The Historical Food Fortnightly challenge #4 is Sweets for the Sweet, recipes for sweets, sweetmeats and candies. I cook and I bake, but a candy maker I am not. I was really thrown into a quandry with this challenge because of that.
This time I chose what looked to be a simple candy recipe from The Complete Confectioner, (Parkinson, Philadelphia) 1864, Pastille drops (peppermint). It looked easy enough, heat sugar, flavouring and a little bit of water until almost boiling and then drop on pans and stir until cool enough to form rounded drops. I used a kilo of sugar on 2 different tries, had a bottle of peppermint extract explode (what a mess!) and all I smelled was peppermint for 2 days. After the second grainy, ragged, sugar crystal failure, I moved on.
Because the hens have been little laying machines, I had dozens of eggs on the counter. I decided on sponge cake. The Good Housekeeper (Sarah Hale, Boston 1838) has a recipe for Lemon Sponge cake. I knew when I was adding the flour that the texture was wrong and there was too much flour. I should have stopped when instinct told me too, but I followed the recipe exactly, because in my experience, the recipes usually work out just fine. I ended up with a tough, dry albeit tasty cake. The chickens liked it just fine.
I went back to The Cook's Own Book (Boston, 1832) which is fast becoming one of my favourite cookbooks. I did adjust some of the quantities to use a tad less sugar and flour. There was enough batter to fill a tube pan. It looked perfect when baked. It really looked like something I would feed to friends and not just family (or the chickens).
YUM! This was truly delicious.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
the entire lemon peel then cut in half and squeeze the juice.
Separate the eggs. Combine 10 yolks and sugar and beat until thick.
Add the zest, lemon juice and then gently mix in the flour. Using
clean beaters and a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until they are firm
and hold their shape. Gently fold in the yolk mixture until no white
streaks remain. Pour into a prepared pan and bake at 350° for 20
minutes and reduce heat to 325° until the top springs back.
Using cup for cup gluten free flour is just a straight substitution and requires no additional xanthan gum or additives.
Time - 2 days until the final cake which was really only about 30 minutes until it went into the oven.
Cost- supplies on hand except the bottle of peppermint extract which was $3.59
Final cake was awesomely successful!
Accuracy - It probably should have been made in a round pan rather than the tube pan, but it was the only pan I had which would hold that amount of batter and I only have singles for round pans for some reason. This cake is gluten free, so not at all accurate in that sense.
This type of cake seems to be modernly known as an American Sponge cake, using no added butter. It has few ingredients and the flavours could be easily switched up by not using the lemon and adding other flavourings like nutmeg and allspice, or a bit of cinnamon or even switching out some of the flour for a bit of cocoa.