I got (another) book recently- this time an almanac printed in 1749 in London, smaller than a smartphone. The actual title of the almanac itself is “An Almanack For The Year of our Lord God, MDCCL”. As usual, what’s important wasn’t what was printed in the book, but written in it. Its original owner put some diary entries in the blank pages between the years 1750 and 1756. More excitingly, she- I would assume it’s a she, as her entries are in line with those of women of the time- wrote some recipes inside.
I’ve transcribed the first half of the recipes here, with more to follow, as some are less legible than others. While I’ve slightly edited the spelling and structure for clarity and ease of reading, and added punctuation- as there was none before- they’re otherwise unchanged. They wouldn’t be easy to use for modern cooking in their current form, as of course they don’t tell you what temperature your oven should be or how long to bake it. However, they could likely be adapted by someone familiar with baking. Some of the measurements seem a little crazy, calling for a pound of flour in some cases, so you might want to change that.
“[Obtain] half pound of the pulp of apples, half pound sugar, half pound butter melted, as many eggs well beaten. Then mix the sugar and eggs together and put in your butter, mix very well all together. Cut the peel of a lemon very fine and put in with the juice of a small one [lemon], and one to two spoonfuls of wine and one [spoonful] rose water. Put your pulp through a hot sieve.”
While this recipe seems incomplete, I would gess that afterwards, you would put the now-strained pulp into the rest of the wet ingredients, then mix the two and bake in a slow oven like the rest of the recipes. Probably.
To make Ginger Bread:
“Take a pound of flour, six ounces of powder sugar, and a quart of ginger. Coat it very fine & sifted, one nutmeg grated, and mix it very well together. Then melt half a pound of butter very thick. Pour into it half a pound of treacle, mix that and butter together with 2 spoonfuls of brandy. Into the other ingredients mix it all together. With a knife, when ’tis cool, make it into small cakes withas much sweet meats as you please and bake in a small oven.”
“A pound of butter to half a pound of sugar, the yolks of four eggs. Work it together with flour enough to make it into a smooth paste [that does] not stick to the knife. Then roll it out thin & cut it in small cakes with a or a china saucer. Bake them on tins in a slow oven.”
Most of these recipes seem fairly spare in ingredients, relying mainly on flour, butter, sugar, and eggs, and the occasional fruit. I’m sure, however, that they were able to help sustain the family during the winters that they were baked in, as the anonymous author commented that one of these recipes was “mad[e] in winter”. I hope you enjoy these recipes, if you’re brave enough to try them. My next post will cover recipes for “a cake” and some “strong mead”, among others.