The Ladies' Tea Guild

Friday, November 15, 2013

Christmas preparations.

Italian cuccidate.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach
I'm gearing up for my annual holiday baking marathon.  I usually make one or two types of traditional Italian cookies, fruit cakes, and gingerbread to both serve and give away as gifts to family and friends, along with homemade jam.  I also like to make at least one historic recipe as well.  I've tried Mrs. Beeton's Seed Cake and Currant Cake with good results, but this year I think I'll try her Christmas Cake.  Here is the recipe:

Mrs. Beeton's Christmas Cake

5 teacupfuls of flour
1 teacupful of melted butter
1 teacupful of cream
1 teacupful of treacle [molasses]
Mrs. Beeton's currant cake.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach
1 teacupful of moist sugar [brown sugar]
2 eggs
1/2 oz. of powdered ginger
1/2 lb. of raisins
1 teaspoonful of carbonate of soda [baking soda]
1 tablespoonful of vinegar

Make the butter sufficiently warm to melt it, but do not allow it to oil; put the flour into a basin; add to it the sugar, ginger, and raisins, which should be stoned and cut into small pieces.  When these dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed, stir in the butter, cream, treacle, and well-whisked eggs, and beat the mixture for a few minutes.  Dissolve the soda in the vinegar, add it to the dough, and be particular that these latter ingredients are well incorporated with the others; put the cake into a buttered mould or tin, place it in a moderate oven [325 to 350 degrees F] immediately, and bake it from 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours.
Mrs. Beeton's seed cake.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

I like this recipe because it doesn't call for the egg yolks and whites to be beaten separately; I don't have an electric egg beater or mixer, so I have to do that by hand and it's a pain!

Here is a gingerbread recipe that I'd like to try.  It's from Godey's _Lady's Book_ from February 1861.

Nut-free fruit cakes. Photo:
Elizabeth Urbach
GINGERBREAD LOAF.—One pound of flour, one pound of treacle, a quarter of a pound of butter, one egg, one ounce of ginger, some candied peel, a few caraway seeds ground, and a teaspoonful of soda.  Bake in a slow oven.  Mix the flour in gradually; the butter and treacle to be milk-warm; put the soda in last.  Let it stand half an hour to rise.  


Bernideen said...

What a great posting and recipes!

South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild said...

Thanks, Bernideen!

Anita said...

Speaking of Christmas, Teanzo 1856 has an adorable Tea Advent Calendar to count down to Christmas one cup at a time.

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)