Strawberry Eclairs / Boiled Icing (c.1909) ★★★★



This is a recipe I've had in my drafts for quite a while now, but just never got around to making.
It comes from The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cook Book, published around 1909. This cookbook is a good example of an early publication from a magazine. These kinds of cookbooks, compiled by readers and tested by committees became quite popular. For example, in Canada in the 20th and 21st century you can find a lot of cookbooks from Chatelaine, a women's lifestyle magazine.

This recipe sounded like a fun and summery take on the traditional eclair. Here in Japan it's already averaging 25 degrees during the day, so it's perfect weather for such a treat.


Original Recipe:


Strawberry Eclairs
Boil together in a saucepan one cup of 
boiling water, one-fourth cup of butter 
and a speck of salt. As it begins to boil 
stir in one cup of sifted flour. Stir con-
stantly until the mixture leaves the sides 
of the pan and cleaves together in a ball.
When partly cool add four eggs, beating 
them in one at a time. Drop carefully
in long narrow strips, some distance
apart, on buttered tins, and bake in a 
moderate oven until well risen--about
thirty minutes. Leave the oven door 
open a few minutes before removing the
eclairs, to prevent their falling. When
they are cool split one side, fill with
sweetened strawberries or jam. Spread
with boiled icing colored with strawberry 
juice.--Annabel Lee.


Boiled Icing
Boil one cup of granulated sugar with
one-fourth cup of water, until the syrup
hairs when dropped from a spoon. Have
ready the beaten white of one egg. Pour
the syrup slowly upon the egg, stirring
constantly. Flavor the same as the cake
and spread on the cold cake, when the
icing is stiff enough not to run. Cut in
squares or slices.

Notes:

Because I have only a Japanese measuring cup, I adjusted the measurements.

The choux pastry:
For the water, I used 237ml.
For the butter, I used 57g.
For the flour, I used 125g.
I only added 3 eggs, to account for modern large sized eggs.
I baked at 180C in a convection oven for around 25-35 minutes, depending on size.

The icing:
For the sugar, 200g.
For the water, 60ml.




The Verdict:

Overall, not too bad.
The pastry itself is kind of bland and gross on its own. It is a tiny bit eggy in taste, which I dislike. They were also a bit soggy inside, since the recipe didn't say anything about letting out the steam. However, these work alright as a vessel for a filling and icing.
I used a combination of fresh strawberries and strawberry jam as a filling. It worked nicely. Just jam on its own it alright, but using fresh strawberries really makes a difference. The icing is lovely and marshamallowy. I am a big fan of boiled icing. However, my icing didn't get very pink (I used the juice of 4 medium strawberries). Also, there was a ton of icing left over, which was kind of wasteful.
So, these aren't my favorite dessert, but they have some nice aspects to them. They were pretty quick and easy to prepare, as well. I probably don't like these enough to make them again, but if I did love choux pastry, I would probably enjoy this dessert a lot more. It's mostly personal preference here, so I give this recipe four stars.

Modernized Recipe:

(Adapted from The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cook Book)

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
pinch of salt
1 cup flour, sifted
3 eggs
strawberries, or jam to fill

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 egg white
juice from strawberries, for color

1. In a saucepan, add the water, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil and let the butter melt.
2. Add the sifted flour and stir until the dough leaves the sides of the pan and comes together in a ball. Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If desired.
3. When the dough is partly cool, add the eggs, one at a time. When the dough is smooth, put it onto the prepared baking sheet in fairly narrow strips. I used a plastic bag with the corner cut off to pipe the filling on.
4. Bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes, depending on the size. They should be crisp and golden.
5. When done, cut them in half or poke a hole in them to let the steam escape. Return them to the oven for 15 minutes to cool (oven off). Then let them cool completely before filling and icing.
6. To make the icing, mix the sugar and water in a saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes or until it reaches 245 degrees. Add the strawberry juice. Have the egg white beaten to stiff peaks in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup, while beating the egg white. Beat until cool and fluffy.


Chocolate Fudge Cake (1941) ★★★★



I know I've been MIA for a while here. I promise, its not because I have abandoned the blog! I have actually been busy researching for a big blog post. The problem is, it didn't start out so big. Somehow it snowballed into a huge project, so unfortunately its nowhere near ready to share yet.

So what is it about? Food rationing in Canada during WWII! I know, I know, theres TONS of information out there about wartime food rationing. But what I found was, there's hardly anything about Canada. And what little information there is is often incomplete or misleading. So I'm on a mission!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a Canadian wartime recipe.

Original Recipe:


                            CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE
1 egg                                 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup butter                    2 tsp. cocoa (large)
1 tsp. salt                          1/4 cup hot water
1/2 tsp. soda                     1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sour milk
     Beat egg, add sugar slowly, then melted butter. Sift flour, cocoa and 
baking powder and add to egg mixture, beating well. Dissolve soda in 
sour milk and add alternately to cake mixture with the hot water. Cook 
in a moderate oven.
Filling----
2 tbsp. cocoa                    1 cup hot water
2 tbsp. butter                    1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. corn starch
     Mix altogether and boil until thick, stirring constantly, and spread 
in centre and on top of cake.
---Mrs. D. H. Green.

The Verdict:

So as soon as I went to make the cake batter, I noticed that I managed to pick the ONE RECIPE that was missing an ingredient. See, the first step is to beat the egg and add the sugar....but oh wait, there's no sugar on the ingredients list! I saw that most of the other cake recipes in the book called for 1 cup of sugar, so I went with that. 
Also, as a disclaimer, I have a weird Japanese measuring cup, so everything was measured by grams on my scale or in liquid milliliters. 
I baked the cake in my convection oven at 180C, which is 356F. It took about 35 minutes.

This cake is pretty good! The cake itself was very moist, and a little heavy. It is a bit bland, but its not surprising, considering it only had 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder. However, its not necessarily a bad thing. The filling is pretty sweet, so I was glad that the cake wasn't strongly flavored. The filling is kind of like a fudge sauce. Mr. Man said it tasted like hot chocolate. Its definitely not an amazing chocolate cake, but I could see this being great for wartime and it definitely wins for ease and budget. Overall, we all enjoyed this cake and we will definitely finish it, so 4 stars!


Modernized Recipe:


1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups flour
2 heaping teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour milk (substitute buttermilk or 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar mixed with enough milk to make 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup hot water

2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup hot water
1 cup brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180C or 355F. Grease a cake pan. It's helpful to line the bottom with paper, too.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg. Slowly beat in the sugar. Add the melted butter, being sure that its not too hot (otherwise it will cook the eggs).
3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into the egg mixture. Beat to combine. It will be thick like cookie dough, but don't worry if you can't get everything combined.
4. Mix together the baking soda and sour milk. 
5. Alternate adding the milk mixture and hot water to the batter. Mix well to combine between each addition. The batter should be smooth and fairly runny.
6. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
7. Prepare the filling by mixing everything together and boiling until smooth and thick. Let it cool before putting it between cake layers and on top. Make sure the cake is cool before filling, too.

A Supper Drink (c.1936) ★★★


Peppermints are not really a big thing here in Japan. Sure, you can buy little breath mints, but you can't get real peppermints here - or at least not in my rural area. Luckily I thought to bring some along from Canada, so I broke out my one and only package of Wilhelmina Pepermunts.

I am half Dutch, so peppermints are kind of special to me. My grandfather always kept peppermints near at hand - in his pocket, in the car, and in his greenhouse. I remember one time when I sneaked into the greenhouse just to raid the peppermint stash. His peppermints were usually the cheap bulk barn kind. On the other hand, Wilhelmina is a pretty famous brand, with over 120 years of history, so I figured they were an appropriate choice for this recipe.

Original Recipe:




The Verdict:

You know, I'm not actually a big fan of milk. I get a milk box every day with my school lunch, but I never drink it. However, I didn't mind this drink! I wouldn't pick it over, say, hot chocolate or apple cider, but I could definitely finish a cup of this. I did find that two peppermints didn't really affect the taste much, so this is definitely a recipe where you can adjust to suit your tastes. I gave the rest to Little Y and she enjoyed it a lot, too.




Modernized Recipe:

(Adapted from Delicious milk dishes and drinks)

1 cup milk, boiling
strong peppermints, to taste

1. Place the peppermints into the boiling milk and stir until dissolved.
2. Drink while hot.


Baked Crispy Peaches (c.1939-1945) ★★★★★


Back around November, a friend contacted me about a recipe book she had recently acquired. It was an undated WWII cookbook, focused on using canned foods. Although we don't know the publication date of the cookbook, it was obviously sometime during WWII. It was published by the American Can Company, possibly in Iowa. She asked me if I was interested in the recipes, and of course I replied that I was. She was very generous in photographing the entire cookbook and sending it to me. You can see the cookbook in its entirety here. There isn't a huge selection of canned foods in my little Japanese town, so I settled on this fairly simple recipe for baked peach halves.

(By the way, Kitchen Historic's 4th birthday was on February 6th! I can't believe it's been this long. Many thanks to you, my lovely readers!)


Original Recipe:


BAKED CRISPY PEACHES

1/2  No. 21/2 can Peach Halves     3  tablespoons Brown Sugar
3/4   cup Cornflakes                       1  tablespoon Butter or Margarine

Drain peach halves. Crush cornflakes. Roll peach halves in cornflakes.
Place peaches, hollow side up, in baking dish. Fill centers with sugar;
dot with butter or margarine. Pour 1/4 cup juice around peaches. Bake
in moderately hot oven at 375 F. for about 25 minutes until browned.
Serve hot with cream or evaporated milk.                             4 servings.


The Verdict:

Well, at first I didn't think much of this dessert. But then I was surprised to find myself wanting more, even after eating two. However, there is no mistaking - this is a cheap recipe. It's certainly not surprising to find this in a wartime cookbook. But, it's a tasty and simple recipe to make, and I can see it being a fun treat during wartime.

Some notes:
The majority of the cornflakes were kind of soggy.
The syrup from the peaches mostly just burned to the bottom of the pan. Not sure what the point of that was, other than to just prevent the peaches from burning to the bottom, I guess.
After 25 minutes, the peaches were still very firm; not inedible at all, but definitely firm.
I drizzled my peaches with some sweetened condensed milk sauce I already had on hand. I couldn't really taste it, and the peaches would be just as good without it.


Modernized Recipe:

(Adapted from Wartime Recipes From Canned Foods)

The original recipe is easy to follow.


Ginger Tablet (1845) ★★★★



Ages ago, in my 4th out of 5 years in university, I submitted an essay to be published in an online undergraduate journal. Unfortunately my essay wasn't chosen, but they told me I was the first alternate choice and they encouraged me to apply again the next year. So my 5th year rolled around and I received an email from the editor, asking if I would apply this time as well. I brushed up my work a bit and resubmitted. And they accepted it! I had to go through gruelling edits, which took months to complete - all during a move to Japan!

My essay was finally published this November. If you're interested in Scottish-Canadian foodways, please have a look! The official title is Cookbooks as Sources of Scottish-Canadian Identity, 1845 – 1934. Its all about the first two Scottish cookbooks published in Canada and how they interact with and reflect Scottish and Canadian identities at the time. Its my first published work, and to be honest, I can see that it needs still more refining. But for an undergraduate work, I'm pretty pleased.

So without further ado, here is a recipe from one of the cookbooks I analyzed in my essay. Modern Practical Cookery was an early cookbook publication in Canada, but it had already been published in Scotland nearly 40 years earlier. It was the first Scottish cookbook published in Canada. Of course I wanted to pick a recipe from this book which was distinctly Scottish.

Before I started research for my essay, I had never heard of tablet (also called butter tablet or Swiss milk tablet). Its actually a traditional Scottish sweet, similar to sucre a la creme, something I ate when I was a child in Canada. The Oxford Companion to Food includes an entry on tablet:


"...a Scottish sweet made from sugar and milk or cream boiled to the soft ball stage (116C/240F), and then stirred vigorously to make it ‘grain’ or crystallize. It is poured into trays and allowed to set before being cut into smaller pieces or ‘tablets’. The texture of this confection resembles crisp fudge. It was known in the early 18th century when purchases of ‘tablet for the bairns’ were recorded in The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie (1692-1733), and Mrs. McLintock (1736) gave recipes for orange, rose, cinnamon, and ginger tablets in the earliest work on cookery published in Scotland."

I tried to find this reference in Lady Grisell's book, but all I could find was an offhand reference by the editor of a 1911 edition, edited by Robert Scott-Moncrieff: "Fruits and confections are frequently bought, and occasionally 'taiblet for the bairens.'" Scott-Moncrieff's version is highly edited and transcribed, so plenty is left out. I couldn't find any record of "taiblet" in the book. I suppose we'll have to take his word for it, as I am unable to get my hands on the original source.

Unfortunately, Mrs. McLintock's Receipts for Cookery and Pastry Work seems to be a rare book, so I was unable to examine it myself. However, Food Timeline includes an interesting blurb from Sugar-Plums and Sherbet: The Prehistory of Sweets by Laura Mason:

"Recipes for tablets flavoured with orange, rose, cinnamon and ginger were published in Glasgow by Mrs. McLintock in 1736. These are simple candy recipes, made only with sugar, water and flavourings. This is her recipe: "Orange Tablets with the Grate: Grate the Oranges, take 2 lib. of sugar, and a mutchkin of water, then clarify it with the White of 2 Eggs, and set it on a slow Fire, and boil it till it be almost candyed, then put in the Grate of the Oranges, and take your white paper, rub it with fresh Butter, pour it on your Paper, and cut in little pieces." This is a candy similar to those from the previous century. The word tablet has medicinal overtones, as in the commonly accepted meaning of a small flat disc containing some drug or health-giving substance...In tablet now made in Scotland, both orange and ginger are still found amongst the flavourings, but milk has become essential to the definition."

As for the name, the Oxford English Dictionary suggests that it may have come from medicinal origins, which isn't uncommon for candy. This seems especially possible considering the common flavours of ginger, cinnamon, rose, and peppermint.

So what do we know about tablet? It dates back to at least the 1730s. The candy likely had medicinal origins. Popular flavours included ginger, cinnamon, peppermint, rose, and citrus. The earliest recipes were mostly sugar and water, and the dairy component came later. The texture should be hard and grainy, rather than smooth and soft like fudge.


Original Recipe:


GINGER TABLET.

Clarify the sugar, as directed for barley sugar
(p. 308,) and boil it down, but not so high as for
barley sugar ; to know when it is candy high, dip
the end of a spoon in cold water, then in the boil-
ing sugar, and when it hangs to the spoon, ropy,
take it off the fire ; to two pounds of sugar, have
half an ounce of the whitest ginger you can get,
pounded and sifted, put it in the sugar and stir 
it, rubbing it well, and breaking all the knots 
with the back of the spoon against the side of the
pan ; when done, have the marble slab rubbed
over with butter, pour it on it, and let it stand
till quite cold, then score it into dice for orna-
ment, but not too deep, cut it into square cakes,
and lay it by in boxes.

TO MAKE BARLEY SUGAR.

Take two pounds of lump sugar, break it in
small pieces, take a clean brass pan, put in a pint
(mutchkin) of water, drop in the white of an egg,
and whisk it well, put in the sugar, put it on the
fire, and, when melted, bring it to the boil ; as
soon as it boils, draw it to one side, to make it
boil on one side of the pan ; skim it till it be
perfectly clarified, then set on the fire, and boil
it down quick ; in the mean time have a marble
slab ready, rub it over with a piece of butter ; to
know when the sugar is at a proper height, dip
the end of a spoon in cold water, then into the 
boiling sugar, and quickly into the cold water,
if the sugar has gathered round the spoon, slip it
off, and if it be hard, and crimps in your teeth, it
is enough ; take it off, and drop six or eight drops
of the essence of lemon into it, pour it on the
marble slab, and before it gets too cold, with a
pair of large scissors, cut it into long sticks, rol
them on the slab, and lay them to cool ; this do
as quickly as possible, as it will get too cold for
cutting ; when done, keep it in a box, or in some
place from the air, and it will keep a long time.



The Verdict:

Well, the Oxford English Dictionary may be on to something when it says tablet may have had medicinal origins, because this is like medicinal strength ginger. Wow! It's very strong - but delicious! I like it, but I can only eat a small bite at a time. Mr. Man loves ginger and he really loves this. It is very sweet as well, though.

One thing - I wish I had made the tablet a bit thinner, because it was quite the feat to cut through it. Its a very hard candy, although it dissolves in the mouth. It has a rough and grainy texture, very unlike the smoothness of fudge.

It takes a bit of time to make with all that boiling, but overall, simple and tasty. I may make this again with Little Y, as it strikes me as something simple enough that a kid could do a lot of the recipe.

As for clarifying the sugar with the egg white...its probably an optional step by now. I did it just for fun, but I'm not sure it accomplished much.

Note: I used unrefined brown cane sugar (or at least I think so...it looked like it anyway) to make this recipe. I think any kind works fine, since its measured by weight and boiled down. The most authentic way would be to use lump sugar  - I suppose if you have access you can buy it, or if you're really dedicated you could make your own, but its really just sugar wetted with water and formed to a cone.



Modernized Recipe:

(Adapted from Modern Practical Cookery)

1 pint water
1 egg white (optional)
2 pounds sugar
1/2 ounce ginger, powdered
butter for greasing

1. In a large pot, whisk together the water and egg white (if using). Add the sugar.
2. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then bring it to a boil.
3. If you are clarifying with the egg white, as soon as it starts to boil, move the pot so that only half of it is on the burner. This will allow any scum to shift to the opposite side. Skim it off until there is nothing left to skim.
4. Simmer the candy until it reaches the correct temperature. Make sure to stir and scrape down the sides from time to time. It is ready when it reaches around 240-245F. You can test by dropping a bit onto a plate and seeing that it does not run, or when it reaches the consistency of soft putty when dropped in cold water.
5. When the candy is ready, add the ginger and mix well. Pour it onto a greased marble slab or into a greased pan. Smooth it with a spoon or spatula to the desired thickness.
6. Let the tablet cool completely. Score into dice for decoration and cut into squares.


Sources:

Baillie, Grizel, and Robert Scott-Moncrieff. The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie, 1692-1733. Edinburgh: Printed at the UP by T. and A. Constable for the Scottish History Society, 1911.

Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014.

Mason, Laura. Sugar-Plums and Sherbet: The Prehistory of Sweets. Devon: Prospect, 1998.

Olver, Lynne. "The Food Timeline: Tablet." The Food Timeline. Accessed 31 Jan. 2015. <http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodcandy.html#tablet>.

"Tablet (confectionery)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Accessed 31 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tablet_(confectionery)>.