A Good Holiday Cake

Well, it’s no longer the holidays (why, oh why, does the Christmas season zip by so quickly?  Why??), but my eye was arrested by the heading ”Good Holiday Cake” in Household Management as I flicked through it in a post-holiday funk.  If I can’t be on holiday, I thought, then maybe a cake would be just the thing to perk things up.

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INGREDIENTS – 1–1/2d. worth of Borwick’s German baking-powder, 2 lbs. of flour, 6 oz. of butter, 1/4 lb. of lard, 1 lb. of currants, 1/2 lb. of stoned and cut raisins, 1/4 lb. of mixed candied peel, 1/2 lb. of moist sugar, 3 eggs, 3/4 pint of cold milk.

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I don’t think Borwick’s still exists in Germany (at least, it’s not a brand I’ve seen on the shelves here, although I intend to do some research about that today), but I found an alternative German backpulver readily enough from my local organic supermarkt.  I substituted ”lard” for extra butter, and regular sugar for ”moist sugar” (what is ”moist sugar”, anyway?).

The original recipe called for it to be baked “in a good oven” for between 2 1/4 and 2 3/4 hours.  In a modern oven at 180 or so degrees C, I found that 45 minutes was perfectly fine.

The cake was a little on the dry side – I don’t know if 45 minutes was too long, or the ”moist sugar” was supposed to provide more moisture.  Next time, I’d probably increase the amount of milk to see if that does the trick.

Either way, it’s a nice cake – nothing madly exciting, but pleasant enough with a cup of tea or coffee.  Which is precisely what I did as soon as it had cooled sufficiently – the candied peel (in this case, orange) gave it a very tempting aroma.

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Holiday Cake recipe (Recipe 1763): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/35-chapter35.html

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3 Responses to “A Good Holiday Cake”

  1. Manfred Says:

    Hallo,

    I read your article about the Holiday Cake recipe and I’d like to add a remark about the “moist sugar”. We used to use “Melasse” as an ingredient of our self made bread. “Melasse” is a by-product of the sugar production. It is a thick, dark brown liquid and it is very sweet. It was used as a cheap substitute for sugar. It was always difficult to get it in a shop and I didn’t see it for a while. This “Melasse” would for sure have added more moisture to the cake and it would have given it a darker color. I guess that “Melasse” would even influence the taste of the cake, but I wouldn’t dare to predict I which way (but for sure in a positive way).
    Here is a link to “Melasse”: http://www.google.de/products?q=melasse&oe=utf-8&rls=com.ubuntu:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=89laS6v2DdygsQbAzf3GAw&sa=X&oi=product_result_group&ct=title&resnum=3&ved=0CCUQrQQwAg

    Regards

    Manfred

    • modernupstairsdownstairs Says:

      Hi,

      Thanks for this information. I just looked ”Melasse” up in Leo and it says that this is is ”Molasses’ in English. I think this is also called ”Golden Syrup” in Australia, which my mother sometimes used when I was a kid. I guess ”Melasse” is available in most German supermarkets? I’ll have to try this cake again in the next few days, if I can get my hands on this ingredient.

      Thanks very much once again for the tip – I suspect that this might be what Mrs Beeton was referring to when she called it ”moist sugar”.

      🙂

    • modernupstairsdownstairs Says:

      Hi,

      I just found this useful information about Molasses in Household Management:

      TREACLE, OR MOLASSES.—Treacle is the uncrystallizable part of the saccharine juice drained from the Muscovado sugar, and is either naturally so or rendered uncrystallizable through some defect in the process of boiling. As it contains a large quantity of sweet or saccharine principle and is cheap, it is of great use as an article of domestic economy. Children are especially fond of it; and it is accounted wholesome. It is also useful for making beer, rum, and the very dark syrups.

      She doesn’t mention if this is what she calls ”moist sugar”, but even if it isn’t, it’s still a great substitute. Thanks again for the suggestion 🙂

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