I am won over by the charm and quaintness of a little book which I found in a charity shop recently.
The title "A Taste of Capel Manor" subtitle 'Madam Susanna Avery's Still Room Book - 1688.' It is a slim volume, a facsimile reproduction of a 1922 copy of the original text. Alas, the original Still Room book has been lost, which is a real shame.
Susanna Avery began her collection of recipes in 1688 in a book which was handed down through the generations. Contents include sections on Wines, Fruits, Picklings, Cakes, Puddings, Biscuits, Meats, Salves, Waters, for Coughs, Colds, etc, The Toilet, with a big section on herbs and their uses.
I thought I would share a cake recipe although I haven't tried it out yet.
TO MAKE A CAKE
Take four pound of flower dryed in an oven after bread is drawn, five pound of corance washt, picked and dried, four nuttmeggs, as much mace beaten, six ounces of lofe sugar, a pint of barme, three or four spoonsfuls of sacke, 8 eggs, but four white; beat them; a quart of cream boyled, and cold again; first rub in two pound of butter to flower again in the flower; then mixe all the other with it, but kneall it not; then put cap paper about a hopp and two sheets at the bottom, and butter it well with other butter, not with any of the waight; so power in the cake and shake it even; then take two ounces of leofe sugar beaten small, and mix with it the whites of three eggs, and with a feather anoint well all over just as you set it into the oven; so let it bake an hour; so take it forth, and anoint it all over with rose water and sugar boyled to a candy height, and set it a little while in the oven again; then into the hopp, and take it with the paper away; this is all.
Madam Susanna Avery
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.