Posts Tagged ‘cake’

Queen Cakes, Minus the Final Portrait

July 7, 2010

I’m such a twally sometimes.  I don’t know where my mind was today, but it certainly wasn’t on what I was doing.  I was thinking of the World Cup.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely not a fan.  I’m not even sure what type of ball they use (it gets confusing – North Americans call football soccer, and the rest of the world, as far as I can tell, calls soccer football).  Added to this my complete lack of interest in any type of sport, and you can understand my problem.

We’re living in Germany at the moment, and as most of the world except me seems to know, Germany’s doing quite well in the current World Cup series.  The reason I was distracted was the overwhelming number of kids dashing around in the park downstairs, blowing those damn vuvuzelas as loud as they can.  I don’t even know how to pronounce the word.  I certainly don’t want to hear them.

So, distracted as I was by dark thoughts about where said vuvuzelas ought to be shoved, I completely forgot to take a final photograph of Mrs Beeton’s Queen Cakes.

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INGREDIENTS – 1 lb. of flour, 1/2 lb. of butter, 1/2 lb. of pounded loaf sugar, 3 eggs, 1 teacupful of cream, 1/2 lb. of currants, 1 teaspoonful of carbonate of soda, essence of lemon, or almonds to taste.

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I laughed when I saw how many eggs and how much butter were required.  Then I saw the cream – at which, my boyfriend laughed (I don’t usually keep cream, because as soon as I turn my back, it’s down my boyfriend’s throat faster than I can say ‘Where’s the damn cream?”).

I didn’t have lemon essence, but luckily Mrs Beeton advises “Grated lemon-rind may be substituted for the lemon and almond flavouring, which will make the cakes equally nice.”

(Un)fortunately, the recipe doesn’t state how many mini-cakes this recipe produces.  So, (un)fortunately, I reduced the quantity by 2/3rds – more than enough for the two of us, as it turned out.

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The final result is a slightly flat muffin-like patty cake.  I have to admit it, the cream does give it a wonderfully (and naughtily) fluffy texture.

All 12 cakes were gone within 12 hours.  As I only ate 3, I leave you to guess where the rest went, and how much they were liked.

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Queen Cakes (Recipe 1773): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/35-chapter35.html#1773

Who on Earth was Pavini?

March 21, 2010

Who was the Pavini of Mrs Beeton’s recipe ‘A Pavini Cake’?  I haven’t a clue. I tried searching Google for hints, but all I found was a vague reference to a 19th century opera world gentleman by the name of Signor Pavini (http://www.archive.org/stream/irishnationitshi08willuoft/irishnationitshi08willuoft_djvu.txt).  Was this the elusive ‘Pavini’ who inspired Mrs Beeton?  I wonder.

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INGREDIENTS – 1/2 lb. of flour, 1/2 lb. of ground rice, 1/2 lb. of raisins stoned and cut into small pieces, 1/4 lb. of currants, 1/4 lb. of butter, 2 oz. of sweet almonds, 1/4 lb. of sifted loaf sugar, 1/2 nutmeg grated, 1 pint of milk, 1 teaspoonful of carbonate of soda.

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Now that the weather is finally warming up here in Germany, the ever-popular pubic flea markets are beginning to make their welcome appearance around town.  We went to one yesterday, where a rather eccentric stall holder finally allowed me to purchase a half-round loaf pan (‘Made in West Germany in 1978!’ after unsuccessfully trying to convince me that I might like to buy all his other cookware as well.

What better way to try it out than to use it for a Mrs Beeton recipe?

I had every ingredient to hand except the almonds (and I assumed that ‘ground rice’ = rice flour).  But, it being Sunday, the shops are closed here and I had a choice between waiting until Monday, or pressing on without them.  I was hungry.  Option one it was, then.  I had a pack of raisins in the store cupboard, so I use these instead of fresh raisins and currants (with the hope that this will be a reasonable substitute).

This is a slightly vaguely written recipe, I have to say.  ‘Melt the butter to a cream’ – it’s either melted butter or it isn’t, I would have thought?  Also, she doesn’t mention if all liquids should be combined together first, or even when the dry mix gets added to the liquid at all.  I can only assume this was one of those recipes she copied from another author and inserted into Household Management without thoroughly checking it for clarity.  However, once you’re aware that it’s incomplete, the steps are easy enough to figure out.  Firstly, I made the two separate liquid mixes as instructed, then I combined them, then added this combined liquid directly to the combined dry mix.

Without the almonds, the mixture was rather runny to begin with, so I added an extra half cup of flour – problem solved.

As I used a rather narrow tin, and halved the recipe ingredients, the cooking time (at 180 degrees Celsius) was reduced to approximately 45 minutes.

What does it taste like?  With not enough sugar to presumably satisfy the sweet tooth of my boyfriend, I admit I was worried about having to eat the whole thing myself, even before I popped it in the oven.

“It’s nice,” he commented as I passed him a tiny piece of still-warm cake to try.

“And it’d be really nice, all warm with a bit of butter”

“Yeah I agree.  That’d be really nice too”

And we found that this was so.

It’s not overly sweet – it’s ‘just right.  I like it.  The raisins were fattened and made moist by the baking process, and their natural sweetness added to the overall taste.  Undoubtedly the almonds would give it a wholly different flavour dimension, so I’ll definitely make it again some other time for comparison.

I still wouldn’t mind knowing who this Pavini was, though!


Pavini Cake Recipe (Recipe 1771): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/35-chapter35.html#1771

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Wanna Little Honey, Sugar?

February 11, 2010

Well,  how could you not be tempted by the title ‘Honey Cake’?

I for one couldn’t.

Recently, a friend of ours gave us a jar of absolutely delicious honey from a friend of hers, who produces honey in the north of Germany.  I love honey, and this recipe offered the perfect opportunity to go crazy with it.

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INGREDIENTS – 1/2 breakfast-cupful of sugar, 1 breakfast-cupful of rich sour cream, 2 breakfast-cupfuls of flour, 1/2 teaspoonful of carbonate of soda, honey to taste.

Mode.—Mix the sugar and cream together; dredge in the flour, with as much honey as will flavour the mixture nicely; stir it well, that all the ingredients may be thoroughly mixed; add the carbonate of soda, and beat the cake well for another 5 minutes; put it into a buttered tin, bake it from 1/2 to 3/4 hour, and let it be eaten warm.


I’ve never made a cake with sour cream before – I felt a little bit naughty, and adventurous, at the same time.

Isabella Beeton is rather vague about how much honey to add (“to taste”, whatever that’s really supposed to mean when you’re cooking something for the first time), so I eventually opted for 4 round tablespoons full.  After all, I decided, it’s honey cake, so why skimp on the honey?

The final result is very, very nice (my boyfriend LOVED this cake – he even went back for seconds, which is almost unheard of in this household).  He did make a small contribution to it though.

“You know what would make this even better?” he grinned gleefully.

Oh no.  It’s his perpetual rhetorical question at the moment, so I knew exactly what was coming.

“Go on, tell me,” I groaned.

“This cake would taste even better with whipped cream!”

And before I had a chance to say a word, he dashed into the kitchen and grabbed the tin of whipped cream that I had reluctantly purchased a few days before for a dinner party.  With a hearty squirt into his mouth, he then proceeded to add a (hefty) dollop to each plate, grinning all the while like a manic Cheshire Cat.

“Mmmm mmmm,” he greedily gulped.

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And, despite the fact that I’ll never admit this to him – he’s possibly, probably, right.  It did make a delicious difference.

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Honey Cake (Recipe 1758):  http://www.mrsbeeton.com/35-chapter35.html#1758

INGREDIENTS – 1/2 breakfast-cupful of sugar, 1 breakfast-cupful of rich sour cream, 2 breakfast-cupfuls of flour, 1/2 teaspoonful of carbonate of soda, honey to taste.Mode.—Mix the sugar and cream together; dredge in the flour, with as much honey as will flavour the mixture nicely; stir it well, that all the ingredients may be thoroughly mixed; add the carbonate of soda, and beat the cake well for another 5 minutes; put it into a buttered tin, bake it from 1/2 to 3/4 hour, and let it be eaten warm.

A Good Holiday Cake

January 23, 2010

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

Day 23: Tea-Cake Salvation

December 10, 2009

Somedays, I just don’t have the energy.

It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, I usually head to the kitchen to restore peace and calm to life.

For the times when you’re feeling tired, grumpy, overwhelmed, overloaded, fed-up / all of the above, when you’re overtaken by culinary laziness, but you still want a little comfort food, go for tea-cakes.

INGREDIENTS – 2 lbs. of flour, 1/2 teaspoonful of salt, 1/4 lb. of butter or lard, 1 egg, a piece of German yeast the size of a walnut, warm milk.

A bit of mixing, a bit of kneading, a bit of waiting, and before you know it, several golden mounds of mouth-watering joy are ready to be taken out of the oven for a little bit of culinary therapy.

When cool, slice, toast and slather with butter (if you can wait that long, that is).

All over, this takes about an hour – with only 5 minutes of this devoted to work.

A sweetly comforting salve for any of life’s trivial woes.

Tea-Cakes: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/35-chapter35.html (Recipe 1786)