The Ladies' Tea Guild

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A "Nice Plum Cake" baked in a flowerpot?

I was just taking notes from a book I downloaded from Google books, called _Inquire Within For Anything You Want To Know_, published in 1858, and marveling at the random assortment of information it contains. Recipes, medical advice, child-rearing advice, agriculture, solutions for minor marital difficulties, and etiquette instructions are only some of the pieces of information grouped in this book. Unfortunately, the information is not sorted by topic or type, and you have recipes for cake in between recipes for rat poison and cement, which means you have to read the whole thing to find, for example, all of the recipes. I've spent quite a while reading it already, and only made it through the first 170 paragraphs! In paragraph 72, however, I found an interesting cake recipe, which suggests that the batter be baked in a terra-cotta flower pot saucer! That's the most unusual baking container I've read of, yet!

"72. NICE PLUM CAKE.—One pound of flour, quarter of a pound of butter, quarter of a pound of butter, quarter of a pound of sugar, quarter of a pound of currants, three eggs, half a pint of milk, and a small tea-spoonful of carbonate of soda. The above is excellent. The cakes are always baked in a common earthen flower-pot saucer, which is a very good plan."

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)