Friday, December 16, 2016

Riversdale by Candlelight 2016: Baking for the Caraways

Caraway Seed Bread and Orange Peel Bread

Join Riversdale House Museum on On Friday, December 30, 2016 starting at 6 pm for a candlelit tour of this beautiful and historic Maryland home. This evening will showcase three eras of history. In addition to the candlelit tour, refreshments, live music, and children's activities can be found on this festive evening.

Refreshment Recipes:
While the main focus of Riversdale's interpretation is the first two decades of the 19th century when George and Rosalie Calvert were the master and mistress of this singular Maryland home, this year's  special holiday interpretation will span three different eras of its history. Click here to read about this year's 1850s interpretation of the dining room. The inspiration for the refreshments for this evening highlights the 1930s when the Caraways were in residence. In the late 1920s, U.S. Senator Thaddeus Caraway of Arkansas bought the house. Caraway died in office in 1931 and his widow, Hattie, was appointed by Arkansas governor, Harvey Parnell, to take her husband's place in the Senate. Hattie Caraway then went on to become the first woman elected to the Senate when she won a special election in January 1932.

The following two recipes are taken from the Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer, 1936 edition:

Modern Recipe Adaptation: Orange Peel Bread
Yield: 2 Loaves or 36 Minis


4 Cups Flour (20 ounces)
4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Butter
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Egg
2 Cups Milk
1 Cup Candied Orange Peel (6 ounces), Plus Extra for Garnish
Royal Icing (optional)

  1. Grease two oblong bread pans.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and milk. Beat for 1 minute, until well blended.
  4. Place the candied orange peel in a large bowl and sprinkle 1/4 cup of the flour mixture over it. Mix until all of the fruit is covered with the flour.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and beat until fluffy. Add the flour-coated orange peel and mix until all of the fruit is evenly mixed into the batter.
  6. Heat oven to 325º F. Allow the batter to rest 20 minutes while the oven is heating. Then, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared bread pans.
  7. Bake 40-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center of each bread comes out clean.
  8. Optional: Cool cakes, cover with royal icing, and sprinkle orange peel on top.
Note: You can make mini-muffin size Orange Peel Breads by filling the muffin tin opening with a scant two tablespoons of batter. Bake for 20 minutes. Ice and garnish, if desired.

In honor of the Caraways, a caraway seed bread seems quite appropriate:

Note: You can make mini-muffin size Luncheon Caraway Bread by filling the muffin tin opening with a scant two tablespoons of batter. Bake for 17 minutes. Ice and garnish, if desired. Yields about 18 per batch.

Event Details:
Cost: Adult $5; Children 12 & under free with paid admission

Ages: All ages welcome
4811 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park 20737
Contact: 301-864-0420; TTY 301-699-2544

Thursday, December 8, 2016

No Fuss Mini Christmas Cakes

These little fruitcake gems are very reminiscent of Caribbean style black cakes, meaning that they are very dark in color because they contain either burned sugar, brown sugar, and/or molasses along with lots of spices and rich fruits. This recipe is based on a recipe published in Jennie June's American Cookery Book published in New York in 1870. My recipe redaction is based on Christmas Cake - 2:

I changed the recipe a bit by using prunes instead of raisins or citron and by boiling all of the wet ingredients together. Both of these changes makes fruitcake moister and infuses all of the flavors very well without the need to "feed" the cake with spirits for weeks or months. However, you can still choose to add more spirits to the baked cakes to add extra holiday cheer--Enjoy!

Modern Recipe Redaction: No Fuss Mini Christmas Cakes


  • 2 Cups Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Molasses
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Shortening or Lard
  • 1 1/2 Cups Butter
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon Grated Nutmeg
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Pound Chopped Prunes
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Brandy
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 4 Eggs
  • Five Cups/25 Ounces All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  1. In a very large saucepan, mix together the brown sugar, molasses, butter, shortening, spices, prunes, and brandy. Set on medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes and stir frequently. Note: this can burn easily so keep your eyes on it!
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. 
  3. While the liquid mixture is cooling, heat the oven to 375º. During this time, line a mini muffin pan (I use the Calphalon brand where each muffin well holds about 1.5 ounces) with a regular size foil muffin liner. You want use a larger liner because you want the liner to reach higher than the tops of the muffin well and make sure to press the liners against the sides of the muffin wells.
  4. Use the saucepan in which you cooked the liquid ingredients and use it as a mixing to bowl to add all of the remaining ingredients. First, add the milk and stir in by hand. Then, stir in the eggs.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Add this to the liquid mixture. Stir by hand until all of the flour is absorbed by the liquid mixture.
  6. Fill each muffin liner about 2/3 of the way up the liner. Bake for about 15 minutes.
  7. Immediately after taking the cakes out of the oven, sprinkle them with either confectioner's sugar or holiday sanding sugars or sprinkles.  You can also choose to pour more apple brandy over the tops of the cakes while still hot, but do this before you decorate with the various sugars.