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A Recipe for Lemon Cream

lemon cream

A Recipe for Lemon Cream

The origin of the lemon is a mystery, though it is thought that lemons first grew in Southern India, northern Burma, and China. A study of the genetic origin of the lemon reported that it is a hybrid between sour orange and citron.

lemons

The first substantial cultivation of lemons in Europe began in Genoa in the middle of the 15th century. The lemon was later introduced to the Americas in 1493 when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola on his voyages. Spanish conquest throughout the New World helped spread lemon seeds. It was mainly used as an ornamental plant and for medicine. In 1747, James Lind’s experiments on seamen suffering from scurvy involved adding lemon juice to their diets, though vitamin C was not yet known.

By Jane Austen’s lifetime, lemons were not an uncommon household item and many recipes in both commercially published cookery books and private collections, such as Martha Lloyd’s Household book, call for the fruit. The following recipe for lemon cream is fairly easy to replicate and offers a light and refreshing custard like dessert.

Lemon Cream
Take a pint of thick cream, and put it to the yolks of two eggs well beaten, four ounces of fine sugar and the thin rind of a lemon; boil it up, then stir it till almost cold: put the juice of a lemon in a dish or bowl, and pour the cream upon it, stirring it till quite cold.
Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell, A New System of Domestic Cookery; 1806

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Cassandra Austen’s Baked Custard

“Mrs. Bates, let me propose your venturing on one of these eggs. An egg boiled very soft is not unwholesome. Serle understands boiling an egg better than anybody. I would not recommend an egg boiled by anyone else – but you need not be afraid, they are very small, you see – one of our small eggs will not hurt you. Miss Bates, let Emma help you to a little bit of tart – a very little bit. Ours are all apple-tarts. You need not be afraid of unwholesome preserves here. I do not advise the custard. Mrs. Goddard, what say you to half a glass of wine? A small half-glass, put into a tumbler of water? I do not think it could disagree with you.”
Mr. Woodhouse, Emma
by Jane Austen

 

Cassandra Austen was Jane Austen’s dearest friend and confidant, as well as her only sister. Much of what we know of Austen’s personal life is the result of the letters exchanged between these sisters over the course of Jane Austen’s life.
Custards, rich concoctions of milk, eggs and spices have been made for centuries. The basic recipe is the base of many other dishes including baked meats, frozen ices and crème desserts. It is simple to prepare and loved by both children and adults, though Mr. Woodhouse certainly felt obliged to recommend against it.

Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends

 

A Custard
Sweeten a quart of new milk to your taste; grate in a little nutmeg, beat up eight eggs well (leaving out half the whites) stir them into the milk, and bake them in china cups, or put them into a deep china dish. Have a kettle of water boiling, set the cups in, let the water come about half way, but do not let it boil too fast, for fear of its getting into the cups. You may add a little rose-water, and French brandy.
Susannah Carter, The Frugal Housewife ( 1765)

 

470 / 16 fl oz / 2 Cups whole Milk

2 Eggs + 2 Egg Yolks

½ tsp Nutmeg

½ tsp Rose water, Brandy or Vanilla if desired

Preheat your oven to 177 ° C / 350° F.

In a blender, combine the milk, eggs, nutmeg and seasoning of choice. Purée until smooth.

Place 6 porcelain ramekins or custard cups in a large, deep baking dish and divide the mixture evenly between them. Pour hot water in the dish until it reaches half way up the sides of the cups. Place the whole pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Cool slightly before serving, or serve chilled with fresh fruit and whipped cream.

 


Excerpted from  Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends, by Laura Boyle. Available to buy online at The Jane Austen Gift Shop.

 

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Georgian Ices

Such was the information of the first five minutes; the second unfolded thus much in detail — that they had driven directly to the York Hotel, ate some soup, and bespoke an early dinner, walked down to the pump-room, tasted the water, and laid out some shillings in purses and spars; thence adjoined to eat ice at a pastry-cook’s, and hurrying back to the hotel, swallowed their dinner in haste, to prevent being in the dark; and then had a delightful drive back, only the moon was not up, and it rained a little, and Mr Morland’s horse was so tired he could hardly get it along.
Northanger Abbey

When we read in a novel about Jane Austen’s characters going somewhere to “Eat Ices” it’s easy to imagine that they are feasting on some kind of shaved ice and syrup treat, much like a sno-cone. In reality, “the quality was very high and the astonishing variety of flavours available in a Georgian confectionery shop would easily compete with that offered today in a modern Italian gelateria”, relates Ivan Day, Historicfood.com chef.

“While ice cream, or Ices, as they were called, had been known in England since the 1670’s, they were an exclusive dish that appeared only on the king’s table. The earliest printed recipe appeared in Mrs. Eale’s Receipts, a little work on confectionery published in London in 1718. It was not until the second half of the 18th century that ices become more widely available from confectioners’ shops set up by French and Italian émigrés.

Some varieties that are fashionable in modern times, such as brown bread and pistachio, actually date from this period. The first English recipes for these two flavours appear in a confectionery text of 1770. In the same book are recipes for ices made with elderflowers, jasmine, white coffee, tea, pineapple, barberries and a host of other tempting and unusual flavours.

When the ice cream had “congealed”, it was sometimes put into hinged lead or pewter moulds in the form of fruits, or other novelty shapes. The seams were sealed with lard and they were wrapped in brown paper before being plunged into the salt and ice mixture for about two hours to freeze hard. After being turned out of the moulds, the fruits were preserved in their frozen state in an early form of refrigerator known as an ice cave. Ice cream freezers in the traditional sense were not invented until 1846, when Nancy Johnson designed a hand cranked churn which worked much like those used today.

These fruits glacés were often coloured with edible pigments and provided with stalks and leaves to make them look realistic. Moulds in the form of citrons, pineapples, bergamot pears and apricots were popular. Some in the form of crayfish, asparagus, cuts of meat and truffles were also used. In France, rich custard-based ices known as fromages glacés were frozen in moulds in the form of cheeses. Fake biscuits and canelons (cigar shaped wafers) were also popular. Water ices and frozen mousses were made in a remarkable variety of flavours. Some of them included the alcoholic liqueurs of the day, such as the almond-flavoured ratafia and the spicy rossolis. In England, frozen punches were particularly popular. These were based on lemon, or Seville orange sorbet fortified with rum.

One of the confectioners who helped establish a taste for quality continental ice cream in England was an Italian called Domenico Negri. Two of his apprentices published recipe books later in the century, which both have large sections on ice creams. One of these, Frederick Nutt, whose The Complete Confectioner first appeared in 1789, gives thirty two recipes for ice cream and twenty four for water ices.”

Royal Ice Cream
Take the yolks of ten eggs and two whole eggs; beat them up well with your spoon; then take the rind of one lemon, two gills of syrup, one pint of cream, a little spice, and a little orange flower water; mix them all well and put them over the fire, strring them all the time with your spoon; when you find it grows thick take it off, and pass it through a sieve; put it into a freezing pot, freeze it, and take a little citron, and lemon and orange peel with a few pistachio nuts blanched; cut them all and mince them with your ice before you put them in your moulds.

Lemon-Orange Ice Cream

  • Zest of 1 lemon and 1 Orange
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 7 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 Cup minced pistachio nuts

Put the lemon zest and sugar in a food processor and process until the zest is finally chopped. In a saucepan, mix the lemon sugar with 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and all milk. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk briefly. still whisking the yolks, slowly pour in the hot cream. When the mixture is smooth, pour it back into the saucepan or into the top of a double boiler. Cook over low heat or over simmering water, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes a thick custard, about 15 min. Do not let the mixture boil. Place the custard in a metal bowl set over a larger bowl of ice. Stir until very cold and thick. Mix in the lemon juice. Whip the remaining cup of cream until stiff. Fold in the lemon custard. Add Pistachios if desired.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of the machine and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. If you do not have an ice cream maker, freeze the mixture in a shallow pan. Once partially set, scoop the ice cream into your mixing bowl and beat until smooth (not melted). Return to freezer and freeze solid.

Makes about 1 quart

Lest you think that ice cream cones are a modern invention, check out Robert Weir’s fascinating article on this timeless treat!

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Pumpkin Pie

One of the highlights of this time of year is the prevalence of cold weather comfort food, whether it’s hearty soups and stews or apple and pumpkin pies. Just the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg in the air is enough to tingle our senses, bringing “Autumn” in every heavenly sniff.

According to The Food Timeline, “Recipes for stewed pumpkins tempered with sugar, spices and cream wrapped in pastry trace their roots to Medieval cuisine. We find several period European/Middle Eastern recipes combining fruit, meat and cheese similarly spiced and presented. The Colombian Exchange [16th century] flooded the “old world” with “new world” foods. These new foods (pumpkins, potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, corn etc.) were incorporated/assimilated/adapted into traditional European cuisines, each in their own way and time. Culinary evidence confirms it took several generations before many “new world” foods were accepted by the general public. Pumpkins seem to have skipped this honeymoon period. They were similar to “old world” gourds and squash, and superior in flavor. They were also just as easy to cultivate. As such, pumpkins (aka pompions) were embraced almost immediately.

If pumpkins are a “New World” food, why are they sometimes listed as ingredients in Medieval European recipes? If you notice, these references are usually found in Medieval cooking books with modernized recipes. The original recipes simply call for squash or gourds. Why substitute pumpkin? Some Medieval recipes for members of the curcurbit family (gourds, calabash, cucumbers, melons) are more palatable to contemporary tastes if you make them with pumpkin. It’s also readily available.

“As for pumpkin pie, in particular, in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England “people of substance” were familiar with a form of pumpkin pie that both followed the medieval tradition of “rich pies of mixed ingredients” and also bore resemblance to the consumption of apple-stuffed pumpkins typically engaged in by people of lesser substance…Pumpkin pie went out of fashion in Britain during the eighteenth century. Perhaps Edward Johnson reflected this emerging attitude in the 1650s when he offered as a sign of New England’s progress toward prosperity the fact that in most households people were eating “apples, pears, and quince tarts instead of their former Pumpkin Pies.” Pumpkin had been superseded by the more civilized fruits (free of association with the natives), of which the settlers had first been deprived. Such an anticipation that pumpkin pie was on the way out was premature, as far as the developments on this side of the Atlantic were concerned.*”
In 1803, Susannah Carter offered this recipe “To Make Pumpkin Pie” in her cookbook, The Frugal Housewife, or, Complete woman cook; wherein the art of dressing all sorts of viands is explained in upwards of five hundred approved receipts, in gravies, sauces, roasting [etc.] . . . also the making of English wines. To which is added an appendix, containing several new receipts adapted to the American mode of cooking. This title is updated from her earlier work, simply entitled The Frugal Housewife and printed in 1765. An American Edition was printed in 1772 on plates created by silversmith, Paul Revere. In 1829, American author Lydia Maria Child published a book with the same title. After a run in over Copyright infringement, Child’s Publisher was required to change it’s title in 1832 to the now famous, American Frugal Housewife.

To make Pumpkin Pie
Take the Pumpkin and peel the rind off, then stew it till it is quite soft, and put thereto one pint of pumpkin, one pint of milk, one glass of malaga wine, one glass of rosewater, if you like it, seven eggs, half a pound of fresh butter, one small nutmeg, and sugar and salt to your taste.

Susannah Carter, The Frugal Housewife, or, Complete woman cook, London, 1803.

  • 2 cups of Pumpkin (1 small sugar pumpkin, 3-4lbs)
  • 2 Cups of Milk
  • 1/2 cup Malaga wine (or sweet Sherry, or Port– all fall into the “Sweet, Fortified Wine” category)
  • 1/2 cup rosewater
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp ground nutmeg, 1 nutmeg, grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Sugar to taste, (about 1 cup)
  • 2- 9″ single crust pie shells

One of the easiest ways to cook pumpkin is to roast it. This brings out a lovely rich orange color and, if using a Sugar Pumpkin, much more sweetness than boiling the flesh.

Preheat your oven to 350*. Slice your pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and place it cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Add a little water to the pan so that it stands about 1/4″ deep and place the pan in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the squash is well roasted and the flesh is soft. Remove it from the oven, let it cool a bit and then scoop the flesh out of the shell. Discard the shell and start baking your pie!

Mix all ingredients together and our into the prepared pastry shells. Bake at 425 degrees F. For 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. And bake for 40 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Garnish with pecans and whipped cream.

This makes a much lighter, less “pumkin-y” pie than traditional Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie.

 


*America’s Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking, Keith Stavely & Kathleen Fitzgerald [University of North Carolina Press:Chapel Hill] 2004 (p. 67-8)


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