Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Archive for July, 2008

Jumbles (Think Spice…Think Nutmeg)

Posted by bakinghistory on July 25, 2008

Ring-shaped cookies nicely spiced with nutmeg

Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen is the host of  Think Spice… , a monthly blog event initiated by Sunita of Sunita’s World. This time the theme is Nutmeg—a spice that brings a wonderful, warm aroma to savory and sweet dishes alike.

ROUNDUP IS HERE

Jumbles—also spelled Jumbals—are ring-shaped cookies that date back to Colonial times and were  much more popular in the 1800s than they are today.

These cookies were usually flavored with lemon zest and rose water, and often included coconut and/or treenuts. Virtually any early American cookbook contains several recipes for Jumbles, and often call for sour cream  among the ingredients, as in the case of the recipe featured here. This produces a wonderful texture, dry and crunchy and yet very very light. The pleasant aroma of nutmeg truly shines through thanks to the low amount of sugar and butter which would otherwise overpower it. They are nice with tea or a glass of milk.

The shape of these cookies evolved in time: the earliest versions were shaped by rolling small quantities of dough between the palms of hands and forming small rings—this is the method I used here. Later the dough was rolled and cut with a donut cutter, which quickly provided  ring-shaped cookies of a uniform size and thickness. The most recent versions were simply shaped as drop cookies.

My personal preference is for the earliest method for shaping the cookies. The final result are cookies that look plain and homey, and with slight imperfections and differences in size. I like the fact that one can tell they were hand-shaped.

The dough produced by this recipe is soft and smooth, and extremely easy to work with. The baked cookies have a wonderful texture and are great for dunking.

The original instructions called for “enough flour” to form the cookies. My rule-of-thumb—and preference—is to use an amount of flour that is equal to twice as much the amount of sugar. In this case almost 2 lbs of unbleached, all purpose flour.

The brand of flour I use is King Arthur, which is a little higher in protein than other all purpose brands. If you use another brand you might need a little more flour, but don’t be tempted to use too much, or the cookies will turn out heavy and hard like rocks.

Using a proportion of 1:2 for sugar and flour produces cookies that are crunchy, keep their shape and are not too sweet. If you prefer you can add a little more sugar, keeping in mind that it makes the shape less neat and the cookies brown faster.

From the original recipe by Mrs. M.D. Carrington  (a lady of Toledo)

In:“The Home Cook Book: Tried and True Recipes” , 1876—USA

Ingredients

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, slightly softened

1 cup (all natural) sour cream (240 g)

3 eggs (medium)

1-1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated (or less, to taste, but not more than 1-1/2 tsp)

1 tsp baking soda

2 lbs AP flour (King Arthur)

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Cream the butter at medium speed, gradually add the sugar and mix well. Add the sour cream and then the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the baking soda.

Sift the flour with the grated nutmeg, and add to the egg mixture, mixing at the lowest speed just until a soft dough forms. Gather the dough in wax paper and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Break off small pieces of dough and roll them between the palms of your hands to form little ropes about the thickness of a pencil. Shape rings, more or less large in diameter and bake for 12-15 minutes until dry and crunchy.

It is important not to underbake these cookies—they have to be crunchy and dry, which is why a longer baking time at a lower temperature is necessary.  Insulated cookie baking sheets are ideal.

It is not necessary to grease the baking sheets, and once ready the cookies don’t stick and are extremely easy to transfer to cooling racks. Keep in air-tight containers once completely cold.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti, Regional American Food, Spices | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Malt Honey Ice Cream

Posted by bakinghistory on July 14, 2008

An unusual and delicious ice cream made with malt syrup

This is my entry for the Ice Cream, You Scream blogging event hosted by Nik from Nik Snacks to celebrate July as National Ice Cream Month.

ROUNDUP is HERE

The recipe I used comes from a cookbook that collects the recipes used at the famous Battle Creek Sanitarium where Dr. J.H. Kellogg once applied his theories on healthy life-style, which emphasized a diet rich in whole grains and low in protein and fats.

Malt honey, aka malt syrup, is the only sweetener and main flavoring ingredient in this very simple ice cream. It is amazing that such an easy, quick recipe can produce such outstanding results. This ice cream is simply wonderful, not too sweet and with a pleasant, slightly bitter aftertaste—great on its own or paired with other flavors such as chocolate or vanilla. Chocolate syrup also makes a great topping that perfectly complements its deep malty flavor.

You can serve it by the scoop in glasses or cones, or use it to fill ice cream pops molds. Once the pops are ready, simply unmold them and quickly dip them in melted bittersweet chocolate.

From the original recipe by Lenna Frances Cooper

In: “The New Cookery: A Book of Recipes Most of Which are in Use at the Battle Creek Sanitarium”, 1913—USA

Ingredients

1 pint cream (all natural)

1 cup malt honey (barley malt syrup)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Warm slightly the malt syrup and mix with the cream (the microwave works fine for this). Mix well until the syrup is well amalgamated with the cream, then add the vanilla. Place the mixture in the refrigerator in a covered glass container until well chilled. Freeze in an ice cream maker.

Note: Half-and-half works as well as heavy cream.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Gelato, Ice Creams, Sherbets, & Ices | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Savoy Cake (Gâteau de Savoie)

Posted by bakinghistory on July 13, 2008

A tender sponge cake ideal to serve with tea, preserves or custard

An old-fashioned cake—it dates back to the time of Louis XIV— that is always pleasant to have. Its texture is spongy and light, yet sturdy enough to spread with jam, or to line a mold to make a trifle. It does not contain any milk , butter, or leavening—it’s important to beat the batter well so that it can incorporate enough air for the cake to have a tender crumb.

From the original recipe by Sara Van Buren

In: “Good-living: A Practical Cookery-book for Town and Country”, 1890—USA

Ingredients:

1 cup (4 oz—113 g) unsifted powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar) + extra to sprinkle on the cake

1/4 cup  + 2 tbsp (1-1/2 oz—42 g) AP flour (sifted) + extra for the cake pan

scant 1/4 cup (1 oz—28 g)  cornstarch

3 large eggs, divided

1 tsp pure vanilla extract (or to taste)

vegetable oil to grease the pan

Grease and flour a Bundt cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)

Sift together flour and cornstarch.

Beat the yolks at high speed until very light and pale yellow, add the vanilla and then the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time, sifting it through a fine strainer. Beat until light.

Add the flour-cornstarch mixture, sifting it through a fine strainer,  mixing by hand or at the lowest speed, and only until just incorporated.

Beat the egg whites until stiff but still moist (do not overbeat).

Add 1/4 of the egg whites to the yolks and flours mixture, folding them in until well mixed.

Add the remaining egg whites, folding them in gently so that they do not deflate. Pour the batter in the prepared pan, place in the oven, and immediately lower the temperature to 325°F (160°C).

Bake for 40-45 minutes, and do not open the oven door before 40 minutes have passed or the cake will fall.

A cake tester will come out dry and clean once the cake is ready, and the cake will shrink slightly from the sides of the pan.

Place the mold on a rack for five minutes, then delicately unmold the cake and let it cool on a rack.

Once the cake is completely cold sift confectioners’ sugar on top and sides

Posted in Cakes, Dairy-Free, Pareve, Tea | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Graham Bread

Posted by bakinghistory on July 5, 2008

Made with Graham flour, this bread has fiber and a wonderful taste and texture

Graham flour was created by Sylvester Graham, who preached the importance of a wholesome, healthy diet at a time when flour and baked goods were usually tainted by additives.

Today is actually Reverend Graham’s birthday: my friend Louise from Months of Edible Celebrations and I are marking this together. Head over to her wonderful blog to read about the interesting life and times of Sylvester Graham.

Most recipes in the old cookbooks call for molasses among the ingredients for this bread, but I used one that called for sugar instead, and the final result is a wonderful bread—slightly sweet, moist, with a nice soft crust and crumb, and the nutty flavor of whole grain. It also stays fresh a long time, and makes some of the best PB&J sandwiches.

From the original recipe by Maria Parloa

In: “Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook: A Guide to Marketing and Cooking”, 1882—USA

Ingredients

2 cups water or milk, warm (I used one cup of each)

2 cups of bread four (I used King Arthur brand)

2 generous cups Graham flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)

1/2 cup sugar (I used organic granulated sugar)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dry active yeast

If using milk, scald it then set aside to cool to lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, milk, or a mixture of both, and set aside for about 5 minutes.

Mix in the bread flour (the mixture will be soupy), and set aside, covered, to ferment overnight in a cool place (about 60°F).

In the morning add the Graham flour, salt and sugar and beat at medium high speed until gluten forms. The dough is very soft, and cannot be kneaded by hand, unless you use a dough scraper.

Depending on the weather and other factors, more or less Graham flour will be necessary. This time it took almost 2-1/2 cups to have a rather slack dough. It is important to beat it in the mixer with a paddle attachment long enough to develop the gluten (about 10 minutes). Adding too much flour will make the bread heavy and crumbly.

Line with heavy duty aluminum foil one 9.1 x 5.4 inch (13.6 x 23.2 cm) loaf pan and grease very generously.

This bread has a tendency to stick firmly to the pan, and using the aluminum foil will make unmolding the bread so much easier.

As soon as the dough is ready and starts to clean the sides of the mixer bowl pour it into the prepared pan and let rise, covered, until it reaches about 1 inch above the pan sides. Spray with water and bake in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F (180°C) and bake an additional 20-25 minutes.

Take out of the pan and let the bread cool on  a rack. Do not cut the bread until perfectly cold. It can be kept wrapped in aluminum foil for 4-5 days.

See other great baked goods on Susan’s roundup of this week Yeast Spotting

Posted in American Cooking, Eggless, whole grains, Yeasted Breads | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

 
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