A Jelly of Strawberries, A Summer Dishe, A Cream
Sugar Cakes, Shortbreads, Wafers, Letter Cookies
Spiced (Dutch Taai-Taai) Cookies
Sugarpaste and Marchepane Roses
Candies of Lemon Peel, Orange Peel, Blood Orange Peel, Lemon Slices and Orange Segments, Blood Oranges Candied and Dried, Candied Citron, candy of lemon, candy made of oranges, tamarind candy and melon candy
Apples cut into sticks, Candied and Preserved
Apricot Paste cut into Diamonds and Squares
Rose Preserves; Quince Jam; Marmalade
Sugar Candy Crystals and Comfits
Dried Fruits of Apricots, Cherries, Currants, Dates, Raisins, Figs, and Almonds
Fresh Fruits of Strawberries, Cherries, Grapes, and Watermelon
The Brief Source Notes--
Here follows a few very brief notes regarding the Fare served here today--
A Great Cake—
This is a yeast leavened cake made with currants, although the original recipes all call for a much higher ratio of currants to dough than what I ended up adding. (I was short on currants.) There are four recipes for such cakes found in Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery. Digby in his Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby, Opened has a similar recipe for “An Excellent Cake.” There are numerous other versions to be found in the 17th century recipe books. This is my own adaptation of one of those using yeast and Ale [Sam Adams Summer Ale here which is made with lemon zest and grains of paradise] standing in for the original ale barm. It’s baked in a reproduction18th century cake tin, which is the earliest documented cake tin that I own. Hess thinks they may have been baked in hoops or even baked without a hoop. I thought it worked well in this pan.
My survey article on the recipes, history and uses of the words “icing”, “glazing”, and “frosting”, appear in the file: Sugar-Icing-art - 11/10/01 "Sugar Icing" by Johnnae llyn Lewis. Described as: “Some notes on sugar icing in late period…” with appropriate dated recipes. It is located in Stefan’s Florilegium at http://www.florilegium.org/
A Jelly of Strawberries----
C. Anne Wilson relates that “stiff jellies were made from strawberries… crushed in a mortar with sugar, boiled with water, rosewater, and isinglass and sieved. They were boxed and would keep a year.” This jelly was made Thursday evening to be eaten today.
A Summer Dishe---
This recipe is given by Peter Brears in his article on “Rare Conceits…”. The original appears in the Recipe Book that belonged to Margaret Savile.
There are many dishes of boiled creams, but this is simple heavy cream whipped with sugar.
Letter Cookies and Taai-Taai Cookies—
Are seen in various Dutch and Flemish paintings in the late 16th and 17th centuries. HRM Alys gave a lecture on Dutch paintings featuring foods at the Midrealm Cookery Conference last December and talked about these cakes. I happened at that time to have at hand the Gillian Rilley article on letterform cookies from Gastronomica. I have not to date managed to locate a “period” recipe for these cookies. Knowing that they existed and what they looked like has helped, but I’ve not yet found a 16th or 17th century recipe. The cookies offered here were made using a very traditional recipe suggested by the new 2002 Prospect Books volume Windmills in My Oven. A Book of Dutch Baking by Gaitra Padrach-Chandra. This is the first history of Dutch baking to appear in English. From my first experience making these, I would tend to agree that they used a mold to form them. I used the same dough to produce the stamped rose cookies. The freehand letters are not very satisfactory but give some idea as to what must be done to get a more appropriate letter cookie.
Again there’s a selection of recipes in Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, as well as in Robert May’s The Accomplisht Cook. These are simple to make, although they rise some and that spoils the fine detail of the wooden mold used to imprint each one.
I am at work (slowly) on a reexamination of my initial work on “Wafers” which appeared in Tournaments Illuminated in issues 62 and 63, Spring and Summer 1982. The new research already fills a notebook and includes a multitude of new references and recipes.
Long an interest of mine, my initial short research article on the topic of “traditional shortbreads and holiday customs” appeared in Tournaments Illuminated, issue 61, Winter 1981. After years of searching, I am pleased to report that I have located actual household accounts indicating that shortbreads were being made in Scotland as early as 1608, which is earlier than previously thought.
Recipes and notes on candying begin to appear in English cookery books in the mid-late 16th century. The entire literature in English starts with Alessio and comes out of the apothecary/medical tradition. This is the business of “secretes” and while these sugared or sweetened items were highly thought of and purchased as luxuries, the recipes for making them at home was not part of the recipe tradition that appeared in the early cookery books and still earlier manuscripts. The earliest confectionery recipes in manuscript are found in an early 15th century manuscript that was first published by PPC in 2002. As Laura Mason has noted the early confectionery recipes tend to be sketchy and not well presented as to details or amounts And it is the details and amounts that one often needs when one is working with sugar syrups and boiling sugar mixtures. One often has to refer to later sources in order to determine how exactly one is to proceed. Consulting an entire range of sources also gives one a better picture.
I have yet to make comfits on a dry day. The selection here today are not as hard as they should be, but they won’t crack one’s fillings either. From recipes and descriptions in Plat and in articles by Dame Hauviette and HRM Alys Katharine. These were made in March.
There are recipes in Plat and Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery for preserved apples. This is a variation. These were cut into matchsticks and boiled in a syrup of water and sugar, lemon juice, and a cinnamon stick until soft. Then they were dried in a low oven.
Candied Citron— soft candy
Citron, purchased from a notable source of good reputation, was further candied in the matter of comfits. The soft consistency comes from stirring the citron as the candy syrup cooled. This makes a very soft comfit or candy and as with anything to do with citron is an acquired taste at best. It does however produce a candy that looks like something being served in one of the paintings I have been examining.
Two different types were made, one being of orange and one of lemon. There are various involved recipes for making rock sugar crystal candy and candies flavored with fruit bits. Some of these involve leaving the sugar solution in pipkin or earthenware jug where the candy forms slowly. Then the container is broken and removed. See Wilson for descriptions.
Candied Blood Oranges—
Segments from blood oranges were candied by being immersed in syrup made by weighing the fruit and then for every pound of fruit, one cup cane sugar to one and one quarter cups water was used. Each day the syrup was poured off, heated again, and more sugar added. Then the fruit was re-immersed. After two weeks the segments were removed and hardened off. See Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery for several recipes on candied oranges.
Candied Oranges, Candied Orange Peels, Candied Lemon Peels, Candied Lemon Slices—
Were prepared according to recipes in the Booke of Sweetmeats. Also see recipes by Plat in his Delightes for Ladies. Boil peel repeatedly in fresh water and let them then sit in a syrup for a matter of days. Syrup either evaporates and they crystallize or they can be taken out and dried on a rack. I don’t care for the modern method with the white left on the oranges and scraped off after boiling in the water. The blood orange peels were the best for candying. The thicker naval oranges were simply inferior. Sevilles were unobtainable. The lemons with peel left on were sliced thin, boiled in sugar syrup of one part sugar to one part water until translucent and dried in an oven on low. Again see Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery. The Dutch still lifes feature such lemon slices.
Marchepane or Marzipan Roses—
I used almond paste sent from the Kingdom of Atlantia by Lady Olwen the Odd who has gained much notoriety for her works in marzipan. I used her recipe of half powdered sugar and half almond paste with rosewater to flavour. My molds are from House on the Hill. There are numerous recipes for marzipan or marchepane, including Plat. Karen Hess includes much commentary in her notes to Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery.
I originally followed HRM Alys’ published accounts in the Confectioner’s Newsletter and elsewhere in the Florilegium and on MK Cooks. Then, because the weather pattern was changing to include storms, I used a recipe for “flower paste” and freely used powdered sugar. I used finely ground cane sugar for some of the small green leaves done and dried in March. The earliest English recipe for sugarpaste in print appears in The Secretes of the Reverende Maister Alexis of Piemont which was first published in England in 1558. It is the recipe that sets the stage for the later recipes of Plat and Dawson.
Come originally from Sub-Saharan Africa and were eaten by the Egyptians, but not apparently by the Romans and Greeks. They begin to appear in still life paintings in Northern Europe after circa 1450. I have not found that garnishing melons in the fashions employed today was done prior to 1600, but again it seemed the decorative, inexpensive, and festive thing to do. See Wilson for more material.
Dishes of Fruit, Dates, and Almonds and Purchased Fare---
Are based upon the still-life paintings of the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries. Among the purchased fare obtained from local merchants were the: red grapes, strawberries, cherries, rose preserves, dried cherries, quince jam, apricot paste which I cut into decorative rectangular shapes, dried apricots, dates, raisins, melon candy, figs, candied rock sugar crystals, raw almonds, and currants. The candied tamarind probably would not have appeared on a 17th century table; it seemed such an unusual item that I had to purchase some of it too. It was known and used in India and Southeast Asia by the time of the Voyages of Discovery and the Spice Trade, so it is quite possible that it was being brought back in a candied form by this time.
The most important starting references for research on the subject of banqueting fare are contained in volumes one and two of the then titled series Food and Society. These volumes are comprised of papers from the First and Second Leeds Symposiums on Food History and Traditions dating from 1986 and 1987. The individual titles are ‘Banquetting Stuffe’ The Fare and Social Background of the Tudor and Stuart Banquet, published in 1991 and The Appetite and the Eye: Visual Aspects of Food and its Presentation within Their Historic Context, published in 1992. Both volumes were edited by C. Anne Wilson and were published by Edinburgh University Press.
Peter Brears’ article “Rare Conceits and Strange Delightes: The Practical Aspects of Culinary Sculpture” in volume one contains a list of dishes suitable for banqueting fare taken from Randle Holmes’ The Academy of Armoury of 1688. [Holmes can now be examined firsthand, as it is available on EEBO.] Brears’ article refers the reader to original recipes and sources while providing adapted recipes and instructions for the dishes listed by Holmes. Many of these recipes are then repeated and expanded upon in Brears’ All the King’s Cooks. This volume by Brears deals with the Tudor Kitchens of Henry the VIII at Hampton Court. Two other recent and excellent sources are Ivan Day’s Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, The British at Table 1600-2000 and Philippa Glanville and Hilary Young’s Elegant Eating. Four Hundred Years of Dining in Style. Other important works are the Tudor-Jacobean manuscript published as Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, edited by Karen Hess and C. Anne Wilson’s classic volume Food and Drink in Britain. I have also spent time examining the Dutch and Flemish still life paintings from the Golden Age which feature foods and desserts; from these, I took the idea of combining the blue and white ‘chinaware’ dishes with what silver dishes I had. It seems far harder to acquire the dishes these days than it is the recipes. For a selection of these paintings see the books: Alan Chong and Wouter Kloek. Still Life Paintings from the Netherlands 1550-1720; Norbert Schneider’s Still Life [Taschen, 1999] and Still Life. A History by Sybille Ebert-Schiofferer. Also see the article by Gillian Riley “Eat Your Words! Seventeenth-Century Edible Letterforms.” In Gastronomica, volume 1, number1.
Recipes are drawn from the sources as cited. These days I very seldom depend on just one source for any one dish. This comes from having nearly all the English printed texts already at hand. Those that I do not own may now be browsed online by using EEBO. I find myself turning from volume to volume and manuscript to manuscript. Thus, I find myself using a wide range of sources when recreating dishes such as these. While I make it a practice to note amounts and methods in rough handwritten notes while cooking, I have not spent the time during the creation of these dishes to formally type the working recipes up.
MS recipes are found in the work titled Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, which places them within the Tudor-Jacobean period of 1590-1625. See Karen Hess’s commentary in that volume. I chose several different versions as to provide a variety of tastes and flavors, keeping in mind that I wanted to employ certain ingredients already at hand and bake them in my collection of Nordic specialty pans. These pans call for special amounts of batter and baking times. I was told by Mistress Hauviette to be economical and not to worry about the aspect of “modern.” [Some of these from scratch recipes call for very minor amounts of baking powder (averaging 1 teaspoon per cake) that provides the modern but inappropriate rising ingredient. Cakes in period were yeast raised or employed the use of ale barm. I did not readapt these recipes to omit the baking powder. Given the iffy weather, it did not seem the appropriate time to try to readapt the recipes.] Cakes served here today include sour cream, oatmeal spice, honey spice, orange marmalade, lemon, and three different versions of basic pound cakes.
Come originally from Sub-Saharan Africa and were eaten by the Egyptians, but not apparently by the Romans and Greeks. They begin to appear in still life paintings in Northern Europe after circa 1450. Watermelon was never as popular as the other melons. I have not found that garnishing melons in any fashion was done prior to 1600.
Copyright by Johnna H. Holloway, June 18, 2002.