Researching Malinda Russell Recipes

To get started, this is what I’d like you to do.

Choose a recipe from ones on offer in the Mrs. Malinda Russell Recipe Testing Facebook Group. Before redacting the recipe, please look it up online. Use Google Books as your main book database. If you need help with this, get in touch with me and I will do a Zoom meeting with you on using Google Books.

Here are Malinda Russell’s two Elizabeth Cake recipes:

23. Elizabeth Lemon Cake.

Two cups sugar, one cup butter, one cup milk, five cups flour, six eggs, one tablespoon cream tartar, rind and juice of one lemon.

24. Elizabeth Cake.

Three coffee cups flour, one and a half do. sugar, 3-4ths do. milk, one tablespoon butter, three and a half nutmegs, juice and rind of one lemon, 1-4th lb currants, one tablespoon cream tartar and soda.

Here is what I found looking up a recipe of hers for “Elizabeth Cake.”

 1853: 309. Bannocks.- Love Cakes.-Elizabeth Cake. Bannocks. -Scald with milk or water 1 quart corn-meal. When cool, add 2 spoonfuls yeast, 1 teaspoonful salt, 1 egg, and 1 quart flour. Let rise. Add half teaspoonful salæratus, and fry in lard. Love Cakes.—Mix with 12 egg yelks a glass of rose-water, 4 ozs. bitter almonds finely pounded, sugar enough to make a batter so stiff as to bake in paper boxes. Moderate oven. Elizabeth Cake.—Cup of butter; three sugar; one new milk; four eggs; teaspoon salæratus ; half teaspoonful cream of tartar, 4 cups of flour.  

The Improved Housewife, Or, Book of Receipts: With Engravings for Marketing …Mrs. A. L. Webster p.11

Elizabeth Cake.—Take four cups flour, three cups sugar, one cup butter, one cup milk, four eggs, one lemon, one teaspoon soda, half teaspoon cream of tartar. Rub the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs, yolks and whites beaten separately, and the milk. Sift the cream of tartar through the flour, and add next, the juice and grated rind of lemon; last the soda.

* Baking powder may be used, well worked into the flour or “prepared flour, in place of the cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda. p. 102 How to Cook: The Principles and Practice of Scientific, Economic Hygienic …

By Thomas Low Nichols 1873

One of these recipes precedes the 1866 publication, and one follows it. The problem with Mrs. Russell’s recipe — looking at the first one — is that there are no instructions. “Two cups sugar, one cup butter……” Note that the 1873 recipe by Thomas Nicholas says to “rub the butter and sugar together.” Our current practice is to do more than “rub” butter and sugar. We often whip it until it “forms a ribbon.” It will save time for all of us if we develop a “best practice” technique sheet. As of this writing — February 2021 — I am not sure how the logistics of all this will work! So, I think we just need to get started and in the starting we will work out the kinks. For example, I am thinking of giving each of you access to my blog — williamrubel.com — so you can post the recipe there which would make it easy for us all to see what each other are doing in a better format that Facebook. That said, publishing working redactions on Facebook are fine.

So, if you can, please start — and we will go from here.

Thank you. William

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