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Jane Ridgeway’s Short Cakes 1711

August 1, 2010

The cookery of the eighteenth century is always a pleasure. Ingredients are usually easily available, and recipes are developing along readable lines that we can follow today. Whereas in the past even simple ideas involved hours of pounding and whisking with a fork, today the recipes can often be whipped up quite quickly using modern gadgetry. This applies to these shortcakes. I was given the recipe some time ago but had not got around to trying it out.

Take equal quantities of flour and sweet (and softened) butter (I used 4 oz of each)

Rub these into each other and add the same amount (I.E 4 oz)  of pounded sugar.

To this mixture add a little grated nutmeg, a large spoonful of pounded  (ground) almonds (approx 1 oz) and enough rosewater. In practice this meant about 1-2 tablespoonsful. Mix together. The resulting dough looks a little like a shortbread mix and rolls out easily. In the eighteenth century, as biscuits were still baked on flat metal sheets or the floor of fired ovens, they tended to be on the large side so they could be managed easily. I  used a standard cutter and rolled them out to just over 1/4 of an inch thick, but pricked the dough with a fork to let it rise if it wanted to. Bake in a slow oven. This meant about 140c for my fan oven; 160c for regular electricity and Gas mark 3, for about 20 minutes.

Verdict: delectable. Even my husband, who shies away from all this history stuff, has been contentedly munching away. A further suggestion, since recipes don’t have to be preserved in aspic, try the following: after approx 15 minutes, brush the tops with lightly whisked egg white and sprinkle with sugar, or add a few currants to the mixture before rolling out. Both work well and don’t detract from the unusual rose/nutmeg flavouring.

From → Food, georgian food

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