Cooking in the 18th Century

 By Sheila Ingle           

My visiting of historical sites in SC, especially the outdoor kitchens, has given me a renewed appreciation for my modern kitchen.

Perhaps you have seen the large cast iron skillets and pots hanging over the coals; a large three-pronged trivet holds one of the pots off the coals. Others hang on large iron swinging crane. Close by are long utensils, like ladles, spoons, knives, tongs, and slotted ladles.

Do you remember the children’s rhyme?

“Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old; Some like it hot, some like it cold, Some like it in the pot, nine days old.”

Often a stew or soup would cook for days. Adding more vegetables and water made it last.

Empty?! You took all the cookies!
They were crying to get out of the jar… Cookies get claustrophobia too, you know! ― Charles M. Schulz

I like to bake, and cookies are some of my favorites. During this Revolutionary War period in our history, cookies were called cakes. Mothers passed down good receipts, we call them recipes, to their daughters. Ant there were a few cookbooks available.

In The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, 1747, by Hannah Glasse, this recipe is entitled “Another Sort of Little Cakes.”

A pound of flour, and half a pound of sugar, beat half a pound of butter with your hand, and mix them well together, bake it in little cakes.

3 1/2 Cups flour
1 Cup sugar
1/2 lb butter

Blend butter and sugar till light and fluffy.  Add flour till it turns into large crumbs.   Press into pan.  Bake 30 minutes then score to the size of pieces you wish.

An earlier version of “Another Sort of Little Cakes” is in The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith, published in 1758.

Take a pound of flour and a pound of butter, rub the butter into the flour; two spoonfuls of yeast and two eggs, make it up into a paste; slick white paper; roll your paste out the thickness of a crown; cut them out with the top of a tin canister; sift fine sugar over them, and lay them on the slick’d paper; bake them after tarts an hour.

Originally published in London in 1727, The Compleat Housewife was the first cookbook printed in the United States. William Parks, a Virginia printer, printed and sold the cookbook believing there would be a strong market for it among Virginia housewives who wanted to keep up with the latest London fashions—the book was a best-seller there.

Perhaps her use of the word “compleat” in her title can be found in her words on the title page.

“Being a collection of several hundred approved receipts, in cookery, pastry, confectionery, preserving, pickles, cakes, creams, jellies, made wines, cordials. And also bills of fare for every month of the year. To which is added, a collection of nearly two hundred family receipts of medicines; viz. drinks, syrups, salves, ointments, and many other things of sovereign and approved efficacy in most distempers, pains, aches, wounds, sores, etc. never before made publick in these parts; fit either for private families, or such public-spirited gentlewomen as would be beneficent to their poor neighbours.” (Believe it or not, you can order a copy of this historical jewel on Amazon.)

Since fall is almost here, I start thinking of gingerbread. I love the smell of it baking. The whole house announces cooler weather is here.

Looking again at Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple, here is her version.

Take three pounds of flour, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter rubbed in very fine, two ounces of ginger beat fine, one large nutmeg grated, then take a pound of treacle, a quarter of a pint of cream, make them warm together, and make up the bread stiff; roll it out, and make it up into thin cakes, cut them out with a teacup, or small glass; or roll them out like nuts, and bake them on tin plates in a slack oven.

And if you would like to watch a video on making gingerbread in the 18th century, this little girl is precious. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1Z2qwyHcPo

On this cloudy Saturday morning, I am going to make some oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies. It is that kind of day.

I believe Cookie Monster said it well. “Home is where heart is. Heart where cookie is. Math is clear: Home is cookie.”

Click-to-Tweet: “Take three pounds of flour, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter rubbed in very fine…” –an 18th century receipt (recipe). @sheilaingle1 talks about baking “cakes” via @InspiredPrompt


Sheila C. Ingle

A graduate of Converse College with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Sheila Ingle is a lifelong resident of S.C.

Her published books, Courageous Kate, Fearless Martha, Brave Elizabeth, and Walking with Eliza focus on the bravery of Patriot women living in Revolutionary War South Carolina. Tales of a Cosmic Possum, not only shares Ingle family history, but also South Carolina and cotton mill history.

Serving on the board for eight years of Children’s Security Blanket (a 5013c) organization that serves families that have children with cancer; she is the Board Chairman. She is also a member of Chapter D PEO, where she served as vice president and chaplain; Circle 555(a local women’s giving group), where she has served on the grant committee; and a board member of Spartanburg County Historical Association, serving on the Walnut Grove Committee.

Sheila is an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Colonists, Colonial Dames of the 17th Century, and Magna Carta Dames and Barons.

Married for forty years to John Ingle, they have one son Scott. Besides being avid readers, the South Carolina beaches are their favorite spots for vacations.

www.sheilaingle.com

Twitter: @sheilaingle1

Facebook: Sheila Ingle, Author