Royal Icing

When you want an icing to dry hard, like on a British Christmas Cake, or to use it as a glue piecing together sugar sculptures, like those for the Mexican Day of the Dead, or for a gingerbread house, then Royal Icing is what you need. My mother and I made a gingerbread house every…

A Fine Basic Madeleine Recipe from 1893

Who doesn’t love a madeleine?  The recipe I’ve used since I first bought the New Larousse Gastonomique (1977) is its recipe for plain madeleine.  that makes it almost 40 years since I bought the book new when it came out. What I like about the New Larousse Gastonomique recipe is its utter simplicity. It’s a poundcake. You mix…

Making Cake from Bread Dough circa 1880

I’ve been reading the bread section from The Thrift Book: A Cyclopaedia of Cottage Management, a British book published in the 1880s. It is interesting for being written during a transitional period in home baking when bakers were shifting to tinned breads. The recipe for a cake couldn’t be more different from modern bread and cake recipes…

Vin de Noix

Red wine, eaux de vie, and sugar are the basic ingredients for this wonderful warm aperitif from the walnut regions of France.

Charles Dickens and Turkeys

It seems impossible, but the fact is that Christmas wasn’t celebrated in the United States until well into the nineteenth century. The Puritan settlers in New England did not celebrate any holiday that was not specifically sanctioned by the bible. Christmas is not a biblical holiday, and so Christmas was a workday. Even in the…

String Roasting

A turkey roasting from a string. String roasting is an ancient roasting method. It is a method that enables you to roast meat or poultry in front of the fire even if you don’t have a spit. I own a beautiful old spit that is turned by a clock motor but I rarely use it…