Way back when, Wednesdays

Vintage baking

Here are recipes for two old fashioned baked treats: Rock cakes and Gingernut biscuits. They are easy to make and moreish to eat. I have taken the recipes from my mum’s venerable 1961 book of home cooking Good Housekeeping’s Cookery Compendium, which was first published by the Good Housekeeping Institute in London in 1952. The book’s aim is to teach the inexperienced beginner or the more experienced cook how to produce the everyday dishes needed in an average home. Although it is produced to meet the needs of every member of the family, there is emphasis on demonstrating home cooking to the young housewife or daughter living at home, as was the custom of this era!

Rock cakes originated in Great Britain. If you have never eaten one, a rock cake or rock bun, is a small fruit cake with a rough surface resembling a rock. During the rationing of provisions in World War II, the British Ministry of Food promoted baking rock cakes, as they require fewer eggs and less sugar than ordinary cakes. Bakers would also use oatmeal in the recipe when white flour was unavailable.

This type of Gingernut biscuit is popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and in many countries of the former British empire. It is believed that they were originally named Gingernuts because they were quite hard to break, like a nut. The amount of syrup that you use in the recipe influences the texture of the biscuit.

All measurements in these recipes are in the Imperial system so you will need to convert them if your scales are in metric.

Rock Cakes

 

Ingredients
12 ounces self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
½ teaspoon of grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon mixed spice
6 ounces margarine
6 ounces sugar
3 ounces currents
1 ½ ounces chopped peel
1 egg
Milk to mix

Method
Sieve the flour, salt and spices.
Rub in the butter and add the sugar, fruit and peel.
Mix the beaten egg and just enough milk to bind.
Using a teaspoon and a fork, place mixture in rocky heaps on a greased baking sheet (modern equivalent is to line a tray with baking paper or use a non-stick baking sheet).
Bake in a hot oven (450 degrees Fahrenheit or 232 degrees Celsius) for 15 – 20 minutes or until they slide about on the baking tray and are slightly brown underneath.

 

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Rock Cakes

 

Gingernuts

 

Ingredients
8 ounces flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground ginger
3 ounces butter
2 ounces sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup or treacle
The above quantities should make 8 -12 biscuits.

Method
Warm the syrup in a small pan.
Rub butter into the sieved dry ingredients. Add sugar.
Mix with the warmed syrup to form a dough.
Knead dough lightly in the mixing bowl. Form small portions of dough into balls and put them on onto a greased baking tray, flattening them slightly and allowing room to spread (modern equivalent is to line a tray with baking paper or use a non-stick baking sheet).
Bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes in a moderate oven (375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius). Let them cool a little before removing the biscuits from the baking tray to a wire rack.

Gingernuts

#waybackwhenwednesdays

Way back when Wednesdays

Chocolate Marbled Cake

Chocolate Marbled Cake

Chocolate Marbled Cake

In celebration of Wednesday birthdays (including mine) why not try this vintage recipe for Chocolate Marbled Cake? It’s delicious and it works.

It comes from my mother’s cookery bible of 1961, A Good Housekeeping Cookery Compendium. Compiled by The Good Housekeeping Institute, the book was first published in 1952. In the Forward on page 6, the book states that cookbooks “sometimes assume that their readers are already familiar with the very simple processes, it can still happen that a young housewife  –  or a daughter-at-home called upon to produce a meal in time of domestic crisis-finds embarrassing and unexpected gaps in her cookery knowledge.” By today’s standards this is an outdated perspective which assumes that women are responsible for home duties and it does not allow for the modern practice of ordering takeaway food!   In contrast to other books of its time, A Good Housekeeping Cookery Compendium instructs the reader on everything you need to know about different techniques and how to prepare every type of meal, from cooking eggs, selecting different cuts of meat, preparing seafood, to making and decorating a wedding cake.

You could ice this cake with chocolate frosting or a ganache, drizzle melted chocolate over it or simply just sprinkle the top with icing sugar, as pictured.

Note: As this is an older recipe, you will need scales which can measure imperial weight.

6 oz. butter or margarine

6 oz. sugar

¾ cup warm milk

4 egg whites

9 oz. plain flour

2 tsps. baking powder

Vanilla essence

Milk to mix

1 ½ oz. block chocolate

Cream the fat and sugar very thoroughly and stir in the warmed milk and the stiffly beaten egg whites. Sieve the flour and baking powder and add to the creamed mixture, together with a few drops of vanilla essence, and if necessary a little milk. Divide the mixture into two, and add the chocolate (dissolved in a very little milk or water) to one part. Put alternate spoonfuls of the two mixtures into a prepared tin and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F, 190 degrees C, gas mark 4) for 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours, until firm to the touch.  Enjoy!

Modern tips: Oven times may vary; if your oven is fan-forced, cooking time will be reduced. I use a ring tin for this recipe, which works well, but you could also use a round tin with a diameter of around 23cm. I lined the tin with baking paper. You may prefer to use silicone or non-stick cookware or grease and flour your tin. I interpreted ‘block chocolate’ as dark cooking chocolate.

Looking for some new recipes?

Well the Library has a fantastic collection of cookbooks for you to choose from. Come and browse in  Adult Non Fiction starting at 641.5 for inspiration to cook up a storm.
One book we found recently while reshelving that doesn’t quite offer that inspiration is “Food for the road” by Laraine Leyland of Leyland brothers fame.

This unique publication has lots of tips for campfire cooking, food and equipment checklists and an amazing array of tempting recipes from chapters entitled Toasted Temptations, Super Snacks and Marvellous Mince.

Some “favourites” chosen by Library staff  include; Saveloy Sandwich, Curried Eggs, Rissoles, Baked Beans and Frankfurts, Curried Savoury Mince and Devilled Wine Chops, not to forget a favourite from the seventies, Chicken a la king!

We’ll let the pictures tell the story. Just let me say food styling has certainly moved on since the Seventies!

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Do you think we should keep this book or send it to the library book graveyard, aka the Booksale shelf?

Also love to know if you’ve found any other “amazing” titles in our collection that you’d like to share!

Blast from the past with Mrs Beeton

Having an interest and love of books goes with the territory of working in a library. One staff member was given an antique copy of Mrs. Beeton’s Shilling Cookery Book, also known as The Englishwoman’s Cookery Book by Isabella Beeton. It was given as a wedding present to a neighbours’ parents in 1900.

There are many pearls of wisdom and practical hints covering topics such as hints to prevent kitchen waste, modes of preparing meat and home butchery plus serviette folding techniques. The class system of the time is evident with lists of kitchen utensils and cookware being necessary and ‘suitable for any mansion’, ‘Suitable for good class houses’, ‘suitable for small houses’ and ‘suitable for the smallest house.’

Advertisements in the front and back pages of the book include those for Bumstead’s Table Salt, Savory and Moore’s Best Food for Infants, and Freeman’s Syrup of Phosphorus – ‘for the most delicately constituted.’

Some of the recipes of note include: conger eel soup which included 2lbs of conger eel and 2 marigolds, how to dress a sheep’s head, calf’s feet jelly and gooseberry trifle. There is also a section on invalid cookery that includes such gastronomic delights as barley gruel, egg wine and mutton broth.

Useful handbooks advertised in the back of the book include:
The Manners of Polite Society, or Etiquette for All
All about Etiquette – for Ladies, Gentlemen and Families
Profitable and economical poultry keeping by Mrs. Eliot James – (author of Indian Household Management)
The manners of the aristocracy by One of Themselves
Our Servants: their duties to us and ours to them including the boarding-out question by Mrs. Eliot James.

The book is an interesting and nostalgic reflection on how times have changed. Although the Library doesn’t own this particular book we do have The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton and a massive range of modern cook books.

What antique books have you come across?

Looking for a Recipe?

our-cooks2The Library’s Technical Services team (who catalogue all the books) has recently rearranged the library’s huge collection of recipe books. Ever popular, we felt that the books were in a bit of a jumble, so we’ve now seperated them into distinct categories. There is now a section on Famous Chefs, International Cuisine, Favourite Ingredients, Drinks, Desserts and more. Each section is now clearly numbered and labelled with the category of books within.

So, next time you’re peckish, seeking inspiration from Jamie Oliver, need a recipe for gluten-free kangaroo pikelets, or simply can’t decide if that soup requires a soupcon of pomegranate molasses, come down to the 641.5’s and feast your eyes on our cookery collection! We may have answer. I’m off to lunch now.