This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Monday, 7 March 2016

..and beat for nearly an hour.

My first foray into the world of these old recipe books.

It is a plain and wholesome Ground Rice Cake; it was light and lemony and went down a treat.  

Judging by the colour of the sponge cake, which really is as yellow as those lemons, I would say our hens have definitely been eating their spinach.  It is one of their favourite daily snacks.   Happy, free-roaming hens make wonderful eggs.

All of the books have at least one recipe for rice cake, some have several versions.  

In the end I eliminated the one which required the use of 11 eggs,  far too extravagant for an experiment, and opted for this one (by C Cooper of Westwood Lodge, 1851) because it calls for just four simple ingredients.

Rice Cake

1/4 lb of Ground Rice
1/4 lb loaf sugar, finely powdered 
4 new laid eggs, take out half the whites
Lemon peel, cut fine (I grated mine)

Beat the eggs up fine, then add the sugar, give them a good beating, add the rice, beat them all up for nearly an hour Butter your pans and send them to the oven immediately.

Beat for nearly an hour?  I'm not quite that devoted to experimentation.   I used my Kenwood Chef and reduced the time to 10 minutes.  

Other than that, I followed the instructions, even though it felt really wrong to add the rice to a wonderfully light egg and sugar mix, then beat on.    I felt that I wanted to gently fold the ground rice into the mix, to keep the air inside.

Of course, the mixture collapsed, and it took a lot of beating to re-inflate it - but I'm pleased to say that the cake was almost completely devoured by the family this afternoon.  They loved the texture and the way the lemon flavour came through.

The recipe gave no instructions about what temperature it should be baked at, nor for how long, so I popped it into the oven for 40 minutes and hoped for the best.   The Rayburn was showing an oven temperature of 150 degrees but it dropped to 140 for most of the time.

It is a wood-fired Rayburn and is temperamental, to say the least, but today it performed magnificently.   I thought the wood-fired stove was more authentic, after all, the cooks of old didn't have the luxury of electric/gas ovens and temperature control dials.

It was a little strange baking a cake without having the usual guidelines, oven temp, timing, size of tin, etc.    I suppose we have every last detail thought out for us these days, everything is made easy.  

'Til next time.


  1. I LOVE your kitchen - you have what I lack - somewhere to put a chair… and maybe more but I can't see! You also appear to have the same crockery as me- great taste, great taste!

    I'm interested in your rice cake… we are "off sugar" at the moment but I do like using alternative ingredients. When the need arises for a cake I may give this one a whirl! Lynne.

    1. Hello Lynne - and thank you. That part of the kitchen is called 'Cosy Corner' because the heat which comes from the Rayburn attracts everyone, including the dog and cats. The chair is rarely empty!

      Last time I was in the local health food co-op they had just finished grinding the rice, which is why I happened to have some in the pantry and latched onto that particular cake recipe. Next time I make shortbread (which the grandchildren love) I thought I'd swap out some of the flour for ground rice, see if they even notice. Elaine