Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jane Cooks (Everything Austen II Challenge)

As part of last year's Everything Austen Challenge, I'd put down that I was going to read and make something from The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye (McClelland & Stewart, 2002.  128 pgs.) and a few other Jane cookbooks. (Here's that blog post.) I at last read them, but no baking occurred.

And so-- As part of the Everything Austen Challenge this go 'round, I'd put on my list that I was to actually bake something from The Jane Austen Cookbook (TJAC from now on.)

And bake I did, friends.  Let's begin.

When I'd read TJAC, I'd made some photocopies of about five recipes that I thought I could tackle.  Nothing too complicated and I mostly chose from recipes that were actually from Martha Lloyd's cookbook. (Who was Martha Lloyd?  A good friend of JA's that lived with the family at Chawton Cottage and after Jane's death married Jane's brother Frank after the death of his first wife during childbirth.) I chose recipes from her cookbook because while the recipes have been adapted for the modern kitchen, I thought it rather fun that JA might have eaten these recipes some 200 years ago.

In early June I made Martha Lloyd's Macaroni recipe from pg 49.  Think macaroni with a cream sauce.  Yes, real cream.  It was pretty good and tasted somewhat like a carbonara sauce less the egg that carbonara contains.  Freshly ground pepper to top the macaroni was a nice addition.  (Forgot to take pictures of this one.)

In early July, I made Martha's Ratafia Cakes recipe from pg. 125.  When read through, this recipe sounded something like the simple meringue cookies I am used to around Christmas-time.  The difference here being that there were ground almonds and a teaspoon of orange liqueur in them.  I purchased baker's sugar (superfine sugar) as the recipe suggested and began.  Essentially, one whips egg whites with the orange liqueur until stiff, adds the sugar and almonds and bakes.  I found that the liqueur made the egg whites not want to become stiff. Or maybe I didn't beat long enough, but I did beat for what felt like forever and I do know what stiff is....so, a little flat they were, but tasty nevertheless!  Next time, I will whip eggs to stiff and then add orange liqueur and beat in for a few seconds to see if this remedies the problem.  Pictures are of them going into the oven and coming out.  Rave reviews from Dear Hubby on this one!  They were a bit addicting--the almond is a nice touch to the meringue like texture.  They were light and hollow inside, and about as close to a 'cookie' as JA may have gotten (rather than a cake).

Last week I made Rout Drop Cakes.  This recipe noted as from Maria Rundell, the 1806 edition of her cookbook--a cookbook of the day etc.  TJAC says that these cakes are "pleasant with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee at mid-morning or in the evening.  They were easy-to-eat party cookies on a Georgian evening tea-table, too" (pg 125).

Essentially, these little ditties are raisin or currant scones.  They were easy to mix up. I used raisins rather than currants because I couldn't quite determine how old my currants were (they were thrown in the trash with a small shudder!).  Curious, too, the recipe contained 1/2 tsp. each of orange juice and rose-water.  (For the rose-water, I substituted plain old tap-water, not wanting to deal with trying to figure out where to find it or how to make it myself....) It also called for 1 tsp. white wine or sherry (I used some white zinfandel that was already open in my frig) and 1 tsp. brandy (I actually had that for baking, can you believe it?!?).   So, a lot of little flavor additions but really, they tasted like scones.  Plain and simple.  Delightful with some lemon curd or Devonshire cream.   (Of which I made for my bookclub's tea party, see blog entry here.)

And the question remains--would I make any of these recipes again?  Macaroni--no.  I'd rather have real cream, aka serious caloric intake, in another recipe not this one.  Ratafia Cakes--yes.  I'd like to see if I can get them a bit more round rather than flat and they were pretty tasty.  Rout Drop Cakes--maybe.  They were a bit dry.  The jury is still out on that one.

Are there JAC recipes in line for the future?  Maybe.  I have Martha Lloyd's bread budding recipe and her Gingerbread Cakes recipe.  The bread pudding is a might.  The Gingerbread Cakes recipe is a "probably not" given the review of the recipe from the lovely blogging ladies at Austentacious.  These ladies declared them to taste like "dried out cookie dough" and said they aren't worth the time if one has options like we do now (as opposed to JA's time).  (In other words, go for something much more tasty!!)

That said, if anyone would like the recipes, I'll gladly share them.  Do ask. And again, Check out the tea party picts, we went all out!


Meredith said...

Thank you for sharing! It must be difficult to make these recipes since some of the ingredients are hard to find! I like the sound of the Rout Drop Cakes with Devonshire Cream! I love scones!

thebakedroad said...

The recipe for ratafia cakes is remarkably similar to macarons!