This year I was asked to hearth cook at Patrick Henry's Scotchtown of Preservation Virginia. The weather cooperated somewhat this year. The morning we had rain, and then it cleared and warmed up for a lovely day. That is when the visitors started to truly come in.
I spent the entire day in the hearth kitchen with Krista Jasillo and Emily McCabe (first photo above). I was there as part of the 1st Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line as well as by personal invitation to talk about my book, Tea in 18th Century America. This was my third time hearth cooking in this kitchen, and it is always a wonderful experience with a lot of support.
Yes, the food was real! The receipts cooked this year were Bread, Bread Pudding, Coriander Biscuits, and To Make Pears Purple. This is a one day event, so I was not too ambitious as I have been in the past. One of my favorite things is baking, and some of what was made was taken to Historic Annapolis the next day for the garden party (next article that I will write)! All turned out amazing.
Emily adding the Coriander Biscuit batter to the patty pans
Coriander Biscuits done!
Bread Pudding done!
This year I added apple wood chips to the fire as I was unsure of the type of wood that I was provided to use. Very grateful to the staff at Preservation Virginia and Scotchtown for inviting me, and for selling my books and some select jewelry in their gift shop. If you have not been to this site, it is worth going to.
I regret to say that we did not get any photos of the purple pears, but I assure you they were wonderful.
Now for the receipts for those who want to try to make what we did - it can be made in your home!
YOU will need two to three cups of day-old whole wheat bread, four cups of cream, five medium eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, one half cup of sugar, one cup of butter, some extra butter, and raisins if you like. Use the extra butter to rub into your baking dish. Break the bread into large pieces in a bowl. Put your cream into a kettle and heat until bubbles form around the edge. As soon as cream is hot, pour onto the bread. Wisk your eggs together in a separate bowl and grate the nutmeg into the eggs and then add sugar and mix thoroughly. Stir the eggs into the bread and cream. Stir in the butter until well blended. Pour the pudding into a baking dish.
Note: You can put your baking dish into a cold bake kettle and then put onto the fire, but if you have a warm bake kettle, your baking dish should too be warm. I use river rocks on the inside bottom of the kettle to hold my baking dish. Check every fifteen minutes to be sure that the pudding is not browning too rapidly and it is done if a knife-blade come out clean from down into the center. Cool in the pie dish, best when eaten warm. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top of pudding. Use petite whole loaves of white and whole wheat bread and break into large pieces to get the best effect. (Leslie “Seventy-Five Receipts” and Past Masters)
TO MAKE ROUND BISCUIT WITH CORIANDER SEEDS
Take nine eggs and but four of the whites, beat them very well, put them eight spoonsful of rose water and eight of orange flower water. Bead the eggs and water a quarter of an hour, then put in a pound of sifted sugar, three quarters of a pound of fine flour well dried, beat this altogether an Hour and half; then put in two ounces of Coriander Seeds a little bruised; when the Oven is ready, put them in little round Tin Pans buttered and sift sugar over them. A cool Oven will bake them. (Mrs. Mary Eales's Receipts, Confectioner to her late Majesty Queen ANNE. 1767)
NOTE: I was very leery about combining rose water and orange flower water as I don't like the flavor specifically of rose water - but it had a very faint taste to it and was actually excellent
TO STEW PEARS PURPLE.
Pare six large winter pears, and either quarter them or do them whole: they make a pretty dish with one whole, the rest cut in quarters, and the cores taken out; lay them in a deep earthern pot, with a few cloves, a piece of lemon-peel, a gill of red wine, and a quarter of a pound of fine sugar; if the pears are very large, they will take half a pound of sugar, and half a pint of red wine; cover them close with brown paper, and bake them till they are enough. Serve them hot or cold (just as you like them), and they will be very good with water in the place of wine. To Stew Pears in a Sauce pan put them into a sauce-pan with the ingredients as before; cover them and do them over a slow fire; when they are enough take them off, add a pennyworth of cochineal, bruised very fine. (Glasse, Hannah, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy”)
BREAD – 14 oz water, 1-1/2
teaspoon salt, ¼ tsp instant yeast, 3-1/2 cups bread flour
Take the water and put in your bowl, add salt and yeast and stir. Then add ½ cup of flour to the side of the bowl so it doesn’t splash, then add the rest of the flour. Use the spoon handle to stir and scrape the sides of the bowl. Tumble it a bit to get flour from underneath, cover with a cloth and let sit (or proof) for 8-24 hours.
Take off the cloth and degass by putting the spoon handle into the dough and bring to the center. Add a bit of flour to it and underneath and scrape all into a ball. Put flour on your work surface, bring out dough, flatten and spread so that you can cut it into eight pieces first by cutting in half, then take the half and cut into two, and then that half into two, and do the same to the second half. Then dust the pieces and stretch the top (may need to add flour if they are sticky) and fold under with your fingers to make them round, and place on your baking sheet with sufficient room for them to expand with a little butter underneath or put on baking paper so they do not stick to the baking sheet. Let them sit again for 30-60 minutes before putting them in a hot oven or 450 degrees.