Monday, June 16, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly

Historical Food Fortnightly 

Challenge #1: Literary Foods


I really wanted to participate in this challenge hosted by Historical Food Fortnightly because I love historical cooking and I have several literary cookbooks. I didn't have much time so I decided to make something using the ingredients I had on hand. I chose to make gingerbread, which is mentioned in many many 19th century books. I chose this quote from Little Women because it was very apt: 

"Don't try too many messes, Jo, for you can't make anything but gingerbread and molasses candy fit to eat. I wash my hands of the dinner party, and since you have asked Laurie on your own responsibility, you may just take care of him." 
I'm  a good baker but cooking is not really my thing, something like Jo. 

For Christmas I got a reproduction copy of The New England Economical Housekeeper and Family Reciept Book by Esther A. Howland. I used this cookbook because Little Women is set in New England and is by a New England author. The novel takes place in the 1860s and this cookbook was published in  1844 so it's just right for Marmee to have been given a brand new copy when she first set up housekeeping. Since the Marches are not rich, I needed a recipe that didn't have a lot of ingredients. 

I chose Family Gingerbread on page 21 of my edition. The Marches are a big, loving family and it did seem like the hard gingerbread Hannah set Jo while Jo was in New York.

The Challenge: Literary Foods

The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible) Family Gingerbread in
The New England Economical Housekeeper and Family Reciept Book by Esther A. Howland

The Date/Year and Region: 1844 New England

How Did You Make It: (a brief synopsis of the process of creation)
Pretty much like it says to in the recipe. I changed the proprotions and chilled the dough a bit.

Time to Complete:A couple of hours counting chilling the dough

Total Cost: I don't know since I had the ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It?: (How did it taste? How did it look? Did it turn out like you thought it would?)
This was not successful. There's no actual ginger in it so it doesn't taste like gingerbread. It came out hard and stiff though the dough was very sticky. I used too much flour or not enough. I'm not sure. I probably didn't use the right amount of baking soda. It's not very tasty but I can see it traveling from Concord to New York without harm. My brother said it was good. My dad, who will eat anything, hasn't tried it.

How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here)
I only had about 1/4 c. of molasses so I looked at a WWI recipe for Hot Water Ginger Cakes that was similar and used the proportions of ingredients listed in the original recipe.  I used baking soda instead of saleratus. They're basically the same thing. I chilled the dough because I couldn't get it off the wax paper I used to roll it out.

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