Wonder what the Cake Boss would make of this?

It’s June coming and all attention turns to June weddings. That’s pretty traditional as everybody smelled the best after their yearly baths. With the bride comes bride cakes. I wonder if there were any bridezillas during the 18th century? Maybe that’s a 21st century phenomena. Be that as it may, there is a blog site that I always go to because it’s so interesting and informative- it’s called 18TH CENTURY WOMEN  http://b-womeninamericanhistory18.blogspot.com/2011/05/cooking-cakes-in-18th-century.html   – a museum on line , so to speak, and it’s a one stop shopping for all things, especially primary sources and a thoughful and scholarly blog, I have to say. This month the owner focused on cakes and it made me think of Adam’s chickens. It’s been nice having live animals in the fort what with Dave and Jane’s sheep, Adam’s chickens. What we need now is a cow and some pigs (pig roast?) Before you know it, we’ll have our very own living  creche for Old Christmas and Ronnie will be Joseph; Chad, Chris and Doug can be the Wise Men but there is no Mr. Humpy camel for them to ride!

I was reading the receipts  below and was marveling at the number of eggs the baker would have had to use to make this cake and the icing for it – 20 of them to be exact! Fortunately, for one’s cholestrol, it’s more whites used for lightness than the whole egg but still!!! The chickens would be working overtime to pop out the numbers of eggs used in this cake if you wanted them butt-fresh! I bet the finished product must be good, though. When you read the receipt about the icing, at the end it says you can perfume it any way you like. I know Rosewater or Orange water was a popular thing but gosh, it needs perfuming? Does everything smell so bad that even cake icing needs to be masked? makes one thing, doens’t it?

“Bride Cake
Take four pounds of fine flour well dried, four pounds of fresh butter, two pounds of loaf sugar, a quarter of an ounce of mace, the same of nutmegs well beat and sifted, and to every pound of flour put eight eggs, four pounds of currants well washed and picked, and dry them before the fire till they are plump, blanch a pound of Jordan almonds, and cut them lengthways very thin, a pound of candied citron, the same of candied orange, and the same of candied lemon peel, cut in thin slips, and half a pint of brandy; first work your butter to a fine cream with your hand, then beat in your sugar a quarter of an hour, and beat the whites of your eggs to a strong froth, and mix them with your sugar and butter; beat your yolks for half an hour with one hand, and mix them well with the rest; then by degrees put in your flour, mace, and nutmeg, and keep beating it till your oven is ready; put in the brandy, currants, and almonds lightly: tie three sheets of paper round the bottom of your hoop to keep it from running out, and rub it well with butter, then put in your cake, and lay your sweetmeats in three layers, with some cake between every layer; as soon as it is risen and coloured, cover it with paper before your oven in closed up, and bake it three hours. You may ice it or not, as you choose, directions being given for icing in the beginning of this chapter.”
—The New Art of Cookery According to the Present Practice, Richard Briggs [W. Spotswood, R. Campbell & B. Johnson:Philadelphia] 1792

“Icing for Cakes.–Take the whites of twelve eggs, and a cound of couble-refined sugar pounded and sifted through a fine sieve, mix them together in a deep earthen pan and beat it well for three hours with a strong wooden spoon till it looks white and thick, and with a thin paste knife spread it all over the top and sides of your cake, and ornament it with sweet nonpareils, or fruit paste, or sugar images, and put it in a cool oven to harden for one hour, or set it at the distance from the fire, and keep turning it till it is hard. You may perfume the icing with any sort of perfume you please.”
—The New Art of Cookery According to the Present Practice, Richard Briggs [W. Spotswood, R. Campbell & B. Johnson:Philadelphia] 1792