Posted on

Mrs. Bates’ Baked Apples

The bake house at Chawton cottage shows the types of ovens used by the Austen family. The bake house was quite often a detached building as an added measure of safety against fire and to preserve the house from the heat of year round baking.

Inside the bakehouse at Jane Austen's Chawton home.
Inside the bakehouse at Jane Austen’s Chawton home.

“There is nothing she likes so well as these baked apples, and they are extremely wholesome, for I took the opportunity the other day of asking Mr Perry…” Miss Bates rattles on to Emma about Jane Fairfax’s enjoyment the apples sent by Mr. Knightley. As the Bates’ had no bake house, they were obliged to rely on Mrs. Wallis to bake their apples, though in reality, they are a simple dish to prepare. You may wish to pair this dish with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and cookies.

baked apples copy

 

To Bake Apples Whole
Put your apples into an earthen pan, with a few cloves, a little lemon-peel, some coarse sugar, a glass of red wine: put them into a quick oven, and they will take an hour baking.
Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1747

  • 4 Medium sized Apples
  • 12 Cloves
  • 1 ½ tsp Lemon Peel
  • 57 g / 2 oz / ¼ cup Brown Sugar
  • 240 ml / 8 fl oz/ 1cup Red Wine or Apple Juice, divided

Preheat your oven to 177° C / 350° F.
Continue reading Mrs. Bates’ Baked Apples

Posted on

Bilbocatch: Old Fashioned Ball and Cup Fun

We do not want amusement: bilbocatch, at which George is indefatigable; spillikins, paper ships, riddles, conundrums, and cards, with watching the flow and ebb of the river, and now and then a stroll out, keep us well employed; and we mean to avail ourselves of our kind papa’s consideration, by not returning to Winchester till quite the evening of Wednesday.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
October 29, 1809

This Bilbocatch, which belonged to Jane Austen, is on display at Chawton Cottage.
This Bilbocatch, which belonged to Jane Austen, is on display at Chawton Cottage.

Jane Austen loved spending time with her many nieces and nephews. At the time this letter was written, two of Edward’s sons were staying with her in Southampton after the death of their mother. Riddles, paper ships and cards are easy enough to decipher, but what was the “Bilbocatch” game that Jane Austen referred to?

Bilbocatch, from "The Girl's Own Book" by Lydia Marie Child (1838)
Bilbocatch, from “The Girl’s Own Book” by Lydia Marie Child (1838)

Commonly known as Cup-And-Ball, Bilbocatch refers to “a traditional childs toy. It is a wooden cup with a handle, and a small ball attached to the cup by a string. It is popular in Spanish-speaking countries, where it is called “boliche”. The name varies across many countries — in El Salvador and Guatemala it is called “capirucho”; in Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico it is called “balero”; in Spain it is “boliche”; in Brazil it is called “bilboquê”; in Chile it is “emboque”; in Colombia it is called “coca” or “ticayo”; and in Venezuela the game is called “perinola”.A variant game, Kendama, known in England as Ring and Pin, is very popular in Japan.
Continue reading Bilbocatch: Old Fashioned Ball and Cup Fun

Posted on

Waffles for Lady Day

 

Having now cleared away my smaller articles of news, I come to a communication of some weight; no less than that my uncle and aunt are going to allow James 100£. a year. We hear of it through Steventon. Mary sent us the other day an extract from my aunt’s letter on the subject, in which the donation is made with the greatest kindness… The hundred a year begins next Lady-day.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
December 9, 1808

In the western Liturgical year, Lady Day is the traditional name of the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The term derives from Middle English, when some nouns lost their genitive inflections. “Lady” would later gain an -s genitive ending, and therefore the name means “Lady’s day.”

The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci (1472-1475) Uffizi Gallery.

In England, Lady Day was New Year’s Day up to 1752 when, following the move from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar, 1 January became the start of the year. As a year-end and quarter day that conveniently did not fall within or between the seasons for ploughing and harvesting, Lady Day was a traditional day on which year-long contracts between landowners and tenant farmers would begin and end in England and nearby lands (although there were regional variations).

In Swedish, the word våffla is attested since 1642 and derives from the German Waffel but is possibly associated by ancestors with Vår Fru (The Virgin Mary).  Waffles are served, even today, in a large number of Swedish householdson Våffeldagen, that is to say, on Lady Day, which is observed the 25th of March. In modern times, March 25 has been designated as “International Waffle Day”.

Waffles, although a popular breakfast, dinner and dessert food, depending on where you are from, trace their roots back to the Greeks and have long held religious significance.

Wafer and waffle share common etymological roots. Wafre (“wafer”) occurs in Middle English by 1377, adopted from Middle Low German wâfel, with the l changed to r. Modern Dutch wafel, French gaufre, and German Waffel, all meaning “waffle”, share the same origin. The Dutch form, wafel, was adopted into modern American English as waffle in the 18th century.

The modern waffle has its origins in the wafers—very light thin crisp cakes baked between wafer irons—of the Middle Ages in the Province of Brabant (modern-day Belgium) Light and airy, Geoffery Chaucer considered them delicate enough to entice love, writing of Absalom’s love for Alison in The Miller’s Tale (The Canterbury Tales) :

He sent her sweetened wine and well-spiced ale
And waffles piping hot out of the fire,
And, she being town-bred, mead for her desire.
For some are won by means of money spent,
And some by tricks, and some by long descent.
(Lines 270-274)

Wafer irons consisted of two metal plates connected by a hinge, with each plate connected to an arm with a wooden handle. The iron was placed over a fire and flipped to cook both sides of the wafer. The irons were used to produce a variety of different flat, unleavened cakes, usually from a mixture of barley and oats, instead of the white flour used today.

A Medieval waffle iron and a period painting showing it’s use.

In 14th-century England, wafers were sold by street vendors called waferers. The modern waffle is a leavened form of wafer. On holy days, doors to churchs would be besieged by waferers selling their wares, most often with “cross shaped” markings, though waffle irons might also be imprinted with coats of arms or other symbols. The resulting chaos  was solved by the passing of a law by Charles IX of France (27 June 1550 – 30 May 1574) that waferers had to stand at least eight feet apart at all times when selling their wares.

By Elizabethan times, waffles were enjoyed by those in all levels of society, with the rich adding eggs, cream, leavening and sugar to the recipe. The first recorded waffle recipes began to appear in print in the 1730’s, though waffles were first introduced to North America in 1620 by Pilgrims who brought the method from Holland. Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron and “modernized” recipe from Holland in 1790, when he returned to the United States after his time as ambassador to France. Waffle frolics or parties became popular in the late 18th century, where prepared waffles were topped with anything from sweet sauces and fruits to savory kidney stew.

It has been recorded that Jefferson served yeast-leavened waffles to Merriweather Lewis at a dinner at the White House, before Lewis and William Clark made their famous trip to the West Coast in 1804.

With the advent of Baking Powder (called soda ash, when it was invented in 1791) baking, especially “quick breads”, changed, and modern American waffles are no longer made with yeast. To get a more authentic “Regency” flavor, one has to try a recipe similar to  Belgian waffles, or Brussels waffles. These are generally, but not always, lighter, thicker, and crispier and have larger pockets compared to other waffle varieties. Despite their name, ‘Brussels waffles’ were actually invented in Ghent in 1839. They were introduced to America by restaurateur Maurice Vermersch, who sold his Brussels waffles under the name “Bel-Gem Waffles” at New York’s 1964 World’s Fair.

Early 19th Century Raised Waffles (Makes about 14 waffles)

Ingredients Measure Weight
Whole wheat flour*, divided 2 cups 7.5 oz. (200g)
All purpose flour, divided 1 cup 3.75 oz. (100g)
Brown sugar, firmly packed 1 tablespoon ½ oz. (14g)
Salt 1 teaspoon 1/6 oz (5g)
Butter, melted ¼ cup (1/2 stick) 2 oz. (56g)
Active dry yeast 2 ¼ tsp (1 pkg) ¼ oz (14 g)
Milk or water, warm (105 degrees F) 2 cups (1 pint) 1 lb.
Large eggs 2 1.5 oz.

* Whole white wheat flour is ideal

Directions

  1. Combine 1 cup whole wheat and ½ cup all purpose flour, brown sugar, salt, butter and yeast in a large mixer bowl. Stir in the milk and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute more. Add the remaining flour and beat until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Let stand at 75 to 80 degrees F., covered (unsealed lid), for 4 hours or overnight (refrigerate, if overnight).
  2. When ready to bake, beat the eggs into the mixture, Heat a waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s directions. Pour 1/3 cup batter into each segment of the hot iron. Bake until golden brown; (baking time will vary with the type of iron used). Serve immediately with honey or jam.
Used by permission
The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark: Recipes for an Expedition by Mary Gunderson, History Cooks® 2003. historycooks.com

 


 Historical information from Wikipedia.com

 

Posted on

Steep a Perfect Cup of Tea

But indeed I would rather have nothing but tea.
-Mansfield Park

A perfect pot of tea does not begin with a mug of hot water and tea bag. The perfect pot takes time and careful planning.

  1. Start with a preheated pot or cup. This prevents the tea cooling too quickly. To warm the it, pour boiling water into the pot, swish it around, and pour it out again.
  2. Use freshly drawn or bottled, not reboiled water.
  3. Bring water to a rolling boil for approximately 10 seconds. Remove kettle from heat. Don’t boil the water for too long as this will boil away the flavour-releasing oxygen.
  4. Wait until the water is just off the boil before pouring it onto the tea. This brings out the rich aroma and avoids scorching the tea.
  5. Use one tea bag per person, or Start with 3/4 of a level teaspoon of loose tea per 6 oz. of water.
  6. Steep for 3-5 minutes, according to taste. If possible, cover the teapot with a towel or tea cosy while steeping to retain heat. Remove the tea bags or leaves
  7. If you would like to add milk (milk, not cream) pour it in the cup or mug before adding the hot tea as this will allow the milk to better blend with the tea without curdling.
  8. Sweeten as preferred or serve with a slice of lemon. Infuse (steep) green tea for two minutes, semi-black tea for seven minutes, unless instructed otherwise based on the tea you have purchased. Both may be infused several times, depending on the tea you have purchased. Though they may be slightly more expensive than black tea by weight measurement, Green and Semi-black are ultimately less costly due to the number of times the leaf may be infused.

Enjoyed this article? Browse our giftshop at janeaustengiftshop.co.uk for Regency recipe books!

Posted on

Barmbrack

Barmbrack (sometimes called Bairin Brack), a rich Irish fruit bread, is the food most associated with ancient Halloween customs. The “charms” baked into each loaf would fortell the future of the recipiant. Placed in the barmbrack were: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth and a ring. Whovever received in their slice the pea, would be unmarried; the stick, would be a fighter (or wife beater!); the cloth or rag, would be poor; and the ring, would be wed within the year.

Barmbrack is similar in style, though denser, to the Italian Pannettone.

The word barm comes from an old English word, beorma, meaning yeasty fermented liquor. Brack comes from the Irish word brac, meaning speckled – which, of course, it is, with dried fruit and candied peel.

Barmbrack is usually baked in a round (20 cm or 8″) cake tin with a loose base, but this recipe works just as well with a rectangular loaf tin. The quantities given here will make one large loaf.

  • 2 tea bags, or 3 tsp. loose tea (a strong black blend works best)
  • 3½ cups (12 oz, 350 g) mixed dried fruit (raisins, golden raisins/sultanas, currants, candied peel)
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz, 240 ml) milk
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. dried active yeast (not instant yeast)
  • 3 cups (1 lb, 450 g) strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup (1 oz, 25 g) brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (3 oz, 75 g) butter or margarine
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tsp. mixed spice

Oven: Pre-heat to 350F (180C).

Start by making two cups (16 fl oz, 480 ml) of strong black tea. Remove the tea bags, or strain the tea to remove the leaves. Soak the dried fruit in the tea. Ideally, the fruit should soak for several hours or even overnight, but if this is not possible, don’t worry – just leave it soaking for as long as you can.

Warm the milk until it is hand-hot (you can do this in the microwave). Stir in the teaspoon of sugar and the yeast, and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes or until it becomes frothy.

Mix the flour, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl. Rub in the butter or margarine. Add the frothy yeast, the beaten egg and the spice. Drain any remaining liquid from the fruit, then add the fruit to the mixture. Mix well to make a smooth dough (add extra flour if the mixture is too wet).

Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead it thoroughly. Place it in an oiled tin, cover with a cloth, and leave in a warm place to rise for 45 – 60 minutes; the dough should have doubled in size.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the loaf from the tin, turn it upside down and put it back in the tin or directly on the oven shelf. Bake for another 20 minutes or so. The loaf will be ready when it sounds hollow when you tap on each of the sides. Cool the loaf on a wire rack before serving.

Recipe written by Mike Lewis, courtesy of veg-world.com

Enjoyed this article? Browse our giftshop at janeaustengiftshop.co.uk for Regency recipe books!