I have been asked to bring my baked goods to an Living History event in Newport, Rhode Island on Saturday morning of February 24th, 2018 .
So here are my intended baked goods and research on preparation.
To make little Cakes 1699
Take a pound of New Butter and a pound of Wheat flower, one halfe peniworth of Caraway seeds, and another of coriander seeds, 3 yolks of Eggs and one white, 2 spoonfulls and a halfe of New Ale yeast, mixe all these together to a Past, but knead it not, nor mould it but beat it with your hand till it be thin, and cut it in what formes you please and pricke them on the wrong side, strew some searced sugar on them before you sett them in the oven, and when you take them out you must strew some more searced sugar upon them.
From Elizabeth Brown's (Birkett) Receipt Book 1699
2) Corn Bread
The earliest cornbread recipe that we have so far from Amelia Simmons in 1796.
- 1 cup Milk
- 3 tbsp. Butter
- 1 tbsp. Molasses
- 1 pinch Salt
- 3 cups Cornmeal
- ½ cup Wheat Flour
To it, add the butter, molasses, and salt, and stir well.
In a separate bowl, mix three cups of cornmeal and a half a cup of wheat flour.
After the milk is heated, add it to the cornmeal and mix it well.
Now you can cook it in two different ways. You can pour it into an already greased pie pan and bake it. When it’s done in this method, it’s called a common loaf.
Preheat your oven to about 375 degrees and cook for about a half an hour in this way.
You can also make up some journey cakes or Johnny cakes. Just form up some patties, about a half an inch thick or so and three or four inches around, and then fry them in a pan.
If we’re going to use these as journey cakes, take them with you in a haversack, you would want to cook them dry without any oil or butter in the pan.
If you’re going to eat them right away, you can use butter or grease in your pan and they are really tasty.
3) 18th Century Breads
No-Knead “French” Bread
Most original recipes called for the use of fresh barm, which was the suds or “croisan” skimmed from the top of a brewing batch of ale. Unless you’re a homebrewer, it’s unlikely you have access to barm. You can make an imitation barm by mixing the following ingredients:
1/2 cup water (or you can use a good imported ale)Set your barm aside.
1 Tablespoon flour
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon INSTANT yeast
1 Tablespoon flour
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon INSTANT yeast
In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups of all-purpose flour with 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together 3/4 to 1 cup milk with 1 egg white. In yet another bowl, whisk together 2 Tablespoons butter (just melted and not too hot, lest you cook your yolks) with 2 egg yolks. Finally, stir together the milk mixture and yolk mixture. Stir in your “barm” as well.
Now it’s simply a matter of adding your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients. (use our hands to mix the dough), You’ll want to mix it well, incorporating all the flour.
The dough is going to be very sticky. That’s good. Whatever you do, DON’T EVEN ATTEMPT TO KNEAD IT, otherwise it will not be No-knead bread!
Now, by using a damp cloth to cover it, set your dough aside in a warm spot to let it rise for 12 to 18 hours.
If you’re baking this at home in a Dutch oven, go ahead at this point and place your Dutch oven in the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees (F). Once the Dutch oven is preheated, sprinkle a little corn meal or wheat bran into the bottom of it. This will help keep the dough from sticking to the pot at it bakes.
Back to the dough…
Turn it out onto a floured surface and with floured hands gently press it out into an oval or rough rectangular shape about 1 – 2″ thick. Choose one of the short ends and fold it over about 1/3 of the distance to the far edge, slightly stretching the dough as you lift up and fold.Then fold over the opposite edge, again slightly stretching the dough as you go. Repeat this process on the each adjacent side, stretching and folding. .
Now place your folded loaf into your preheated Dutch oven and close the lid.
Bake your bread for 30 to 35 minutes.
4) Simple Ginger Breads
Gingerbread was a favorite treat in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many vendors sold it in the streets and markets. Many believe gingerbread possesses special medicinal properties, so it was even used to treat things like the sniffles.
- 2 cups Flour
- ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
- Pinch Allspice
- Pinch of Salt
- 2 tablespoons Freshly Grated Ginger
- ½ teaspoon Pearl Ash or Baking Powder
- 2 tablespoons Melted Butter
- ½ cup Mild Molasses
These 18th century biskets are not like today’s buttery flaky version that we serve along with sausage gravy for breakfast. These biskets were not made to be enjoyed; they were made out of necessity. It was a means of food preservation. If it was prepared and stored properly it would last for a year or more. In addition to preservation, the bisket form also helped in portability and in dividing the rations when it came time. Soldiers and sailors typically got one pound of bread a day and biskets were usually about four ounces so when it came time to distribute them, each sailor or soldier would get four biskets'
- Flour (We used whole wheat for authenticity)
Knead your dough a bit and then break it up into individual portions about 4 ounces in size. Knead each individual bisket and then form them into a patty for your final bisket shape. Place your biskets on the baking tray right next to each other as they will not rise making sure that they are the final proper thickness of about a half an inch or thinner. Prick each bisket so that they don’t puff up too much.
These are going to bake for about 2-3 hours. Many times in the time period, these would be baked and then pulled out. They’d let them cool and then they would bake them again the next day, probably at a lower temperature to drive out any excess moisture and for very long term storage, they might bake these three or four times.
Hard biskets could be eaten just as they are, but it was never thought of as an enjoyable event. Many times they were soaked in wine, brandy, or sac to soften them up a little.
While this isn’t the most flavorful recipe that we’ve done so far, it’s certainly a very significant food source for people in the 18th century.