This recipe comes from a large and very tatty notebook which was originally an arithmetic exercise book for the daughter of a vicar. It was abandoned as an exercise book, for whatever reason, and used for noting down recipes, etc by the cook at a vicarage, way back in the mid 1800's.
It's a superb book, packed with recipes and notes.
Obviously there is that magical (for me) element, handwriting, how much more personal can it get? Then there is the way it has been so well-used over such a long period of time, splashes, splodges, finger marks, each mark a badge of honour as far as I am concerned.
Tucked down at the bottom of a page, I found this recipe for cheesecakes. As soon as I was sure that I really was reading 'mashed potatoes' correctly, I was hooked. I knew that I had to try it out because my curiosity had been well and truly piqued. The writing is a bit shakey, and definitely a different hand from the other pages.
As is normal for this type of book instructions are minimal, and of course there are no pretty photographs to show off the final dish. Once again I found this an exciting little challenge as I read the ingredients and had to decide how best to make the dish work for me. I also decided to make a little change of my own, I have a new bottle of lemon essence, but I decided to grate the rind from a large and lovely lemon and incorporate that instead.
1 lb mashed potatoes
1/4 lb butter
1/4 lb sugar
1/4 lb currants
3 Tea Biscuits (I used Rich Tea Biscuits, crushed)
a few drops of lemon essence (I used grated lemon rind instead)
I decided to beat the sugar and butter together, then I beat the eggs lightly and incorporated them into the butter and sugar. I crushed the Rich Tea Biscuits and added them, the grated lemon rind, and the currants, to the mashed potato, which I then beat into the creamed butter/sugar/egg mixture.
I assumed that the 'paste' referred to in the recipe was pastry, so I had already baked blind a pastry flan case. I popped the mixture in and baked it in a moderate oven (180 C) for about 45 minutes. I had my fingers crossed.
This was the result!
Okay, so it's not like a modern cheesecake, but it was so delicious, everyone enjoyed it. The taste was something like a particularly nice bread and butter pudding - and I know of at least one person in blog-world who will cringe at the very idea of tasting that...Cro!
We all enjoyed it and it will most certainly feature on our sweet treats menu, occasionally.
There was absolutely no hint that it was largely made up of left-over mashed potatoes!
No doubt the flavour and texture would be altered by the choice of potato, I'll have to try it out.
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.