Thursday, May 19, 2016

Light Rolls for Breakfast

Light Rolls. c. 19th c.

Recipe Provenance
This recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

Light Rolls
To 2 quarts of flour, put a pint of warm water, with a tablespoonful of lard, mixed in it, break 4 eggs in the flour & add a spoonful of yeast, mix all in a batter & when light, bake in small rolls.

About Breakfast Foods
According to the Servants' Guide and Family Manual (London, 1831), breakfast should be conducted as follows:

Source: The Servants' Guide and Family Manual,
Printed for John Limbered, London, 1831
I am particularly inspired by the suggestion to serve "varieties of rolls" and to keep things as simple as possible to avoid soiling a negligé!

Light Rolls: My Recipe Redaction

  • 2 Cups Warm Water (about 105º F), Divided
  • 1 Packet Active dry Yeast
  • 24 Ounces (or scant 5 cups) All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • Half Tablespoon Fat (butter or lard)
  • 2 Large Eggs

1. Measure just 1/2 cup of the warm water into a small bowl and add the yeast. Stir until blended and set aside for 5 minutes, or until bubbles start to form.
2. Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl. I always prefer to weigh my flour, so weigh it if you can! Add the salt to the flour and whisk together.
3. Add the fat to the remaining 1.5 cups of warm water and allow it to melt.
4. Add the water/yeast mixture and the water/fat mixture to the flour. Stir.
5. Add the eggs to the flour mixture and stir until well blended.
6. Cover and place in a warm spot. Let rise at least 2 hours. The dough will be very wet:

7. While the dough is rising, grease 2 regular-size muffin tins.
8. Spoon about a scant 1/4 cup measure of the dough into each muffin cup.
9. Let the dough rise for another 30 minutes. During this time, heat oven to 350º F.
10. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until light golden brown.

Soup a la Crécy: A Carrot Soup Fit for a King

Soup a la Crécy

Soup a la Crécy is just simple carrot soup. There are some stories as to how it got its name but nothing definitive. First, Crécy is located in northern France and is known as the region for producing the best carrots in France. Second, there is a story claiming that the soup was eaten every year by King Edward III on August 26 to commemorate the 1346 Battle of Crécy, an event of the Hundred Years War.   Whatever the reason, the soup is quite good. 

This recipe is from Mrs. Beeton's Household Management, London, 1861 (reprinted in 2006 by Wordsworth Editions Limited):

Here is a recipe from the Consolidated Library of Modern Cookery and Household Recipes, vol. iii by Christine Terhune Herrick, New York: 1904.

Soup a la Crécy: My Recipe Redaction

  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Large Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Pound Peeled, Trimmed, and Chopped Carrots 
  • 2 Teaspoons Sugar
  • 2 Quarts Vegetable Stock
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Croutons, Optional

1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. Then, add the chopped onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook on low until soft, about 15 minutes.
2. Add the chopped carrots and sugar to the onions and cook about 5 minutes until the sugar is completely melted.
3. Add the vegetable stock and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then simmer covered on medium-low until carrots are completely soft, about 30 minutes.
4. Using a blender, or immersion blender, puree the soup until completely smooth.
5. Serve hot with croutons (optional). 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Afternoon Tea Scones

Afternoon Tea Scones

The history of afternoon tea complete with scones, jam, clotted cream, finger sandwiches and other tasty confections was born in the 1840s when the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Stanhope, requested some nibbles to quell the "sinking feeling" she had in the late afternoons. In other words, the long gap between breakfast and dinner left her feeling quite hungry around 5 in the afternoon. Taking afternoon tea was an established custom at that time, but having a "meal" to go along with it was not. Hence, the Duchess ushered in the tradition of afternoon "low tea" where tea and snacks were partaken of on a low tea table (as opposed to the tradition that developed of "high tea" where supper was partaken of at a formal dining table high enough in which chairs could be placed underneath it). 

Were scones part of the Duchess's first foray into this tasty tradition? 
Probably not. The  earliest scones hail from Scotland and were essentially griddle cakes made with barley and/or oats. These were made in circles and then cut into pie-shaped wedges. What we know of as proper British scones are slightly sweet cakes baked in circle cut-outs and made with wheat flour and lots of baking powder, an innovation of the later part of the 19th century. So, the Duchess had to make do with dainty bread and butter sandwiches instead!

Afternoon Tea Scones: My Recipe Redaction
(I have taken the recipe ingredients from America's Test Kitchen but have modified the directions to give a better outcome.)

  • 3 Cups of All-Purpose Flour (15 ounces by weight), Plus More for Rolling Out on a Board
  • 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 Stick) Butter, Cut Into 1/2" Pieces
  • Scant Cup of Whole Milk
  • 2 Large Eggs

1.  Heat the oven to 425º F. and make sure that a rack is placed in the center of the oven. Then, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, just until well-blended (about 5 pulses).
3. Add the butter to the food processor and pulse about 20 times to create a mixture that has pea-sized bits of butter evenly distributed throughout.
4. Using a 2-cup capacity measuring cup, measure the milk and then add the eggs. Whisk the eggs until the milk/egg mixture is frothy. Then remove about 3 tablespoons of this mixture to use later as a glaze.
5. Add the milk/egg mixture to the flour/butter mixture in the food processor by gently pulsing as you pour in the liquid. Pulse until the mixture comes together. It will be a little bit sticky.
6. Place flour on a board and then place the scone dough on top. Add more flour on top of the dough and gently knead until the dough is no longer sticky. Roll the dough out until it is about one-inch thick.
7. Use a 2.5" round cutter to cut out 20 circles. You will need to re-gather and re-roll the dough out to get 20. Glaze the tops of the scones with the reserved milk/egg mixture.

9. Bake for about 8 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350º F and bake about 2-3 more minutes until the biscuits are golden and have puffed up nicely.