Saturday, March 7, 2015

HFF #20: A Notable Event in History

Inspired by Jeannette's reference on the Facebook page, I looked up the menu for Lincoln's Second Inaugural Ball, and decided to try my hand at some 1865 fruit ices.

The Challenge: Make a dish served at a famous event in history.

The Receipt: "Orange Water Ice", from The Art of Confectionery (1865), to fulfill the entry for "Ices: Orange" on the Bill of Fare for the ball at Lincoln's Second Inauguration (1865).  As the syrup instructions were a bit dense, I also consulted Mrs. Beeton's.

Page 260: "ORANGE WATER ICE Ingredients the juice of 12 oranges, the juice of 2 lemons, the thin rind of 3 oranges infused in the warm syrup for an hour, and afterwards strained to the juice, 1 pt of syrup. Freeze the composition in the usual way* and set up the ice in its mould."

Pages 257-258: "FRUIT WATER ICE In preparing water ices the chief rule is to be careful of the amount of flavoring and sweetening used. The tendency of the freezing process is to destroy the flavor or at least to extract it so that in sweetening the mixture it is best to make it rather sweeter than necessary for use without freezing in the following receipts for preparing fruit ices directions are generally given to strain the mixture so as to exclude particles of fruit or pulp some however prefer it to be retained with the pieces of fruit congealed here and there among the ice of course every one can decide this question according to his own taste either way being very palatable. The use of syrup of different degrees of strength is recommended, as the best and simplest method for amalgamation with and giving body to the other ingredients composing the ices in many cases; however it will be quite sufficient to use the refined powdered sugar with out any previous preparation. In moulding fruit ices souffles and other small preparations it is often necessary to have the benefit of a freezing temperature without its being either proper or practicable to plunge the articles into the bed of salted ice. For this purpose a contrivance known as an ice cave has been provided. They are usually of copper or tin either round or square and may be of from twelve to twenty four inches in diameter with a depth nearly as great and a tightly fitting lid made with sides so as to admit of ice being placed on top of the cave. A very good substitute however can be improvised with a tin kettle of sufficient depth and good lid. When this cave is buried in the ice tub filled. With powdered ice and salt its contents will become nicely frozen and can be kept hardened for any required time."

Region/Date: American, 1865

How did you make it: Dissolved 4 lbs of sugar (mixture of granulated and powdered, as ran out of the former) in 1 pint of water; added the white of 1 egg and brought to a boil, stirring occasionally; added 6 fl oz cold water and allowed to boil again. Extinguished ensuing fire when mixture boiled over. Moved to a second burner, and continuing boiling for 5 minutes, scraping off the 'scum'. Placed peels of 3 oranges in the syrup and set aside for 1 hour. Juiced 6 'juice oranges', and a dozen 'cutie' mandarins, yielding 1.5 cups juice (probably should have had 2 cups). Added juice of 2 lemons. Strained the syrup and added 1 pint to the fruit juices (a bit over 1 pint remained, set aside for future use). Placed whole mixture in the freezer, stirring periodically.

Mixture was visibly thickening after 2.5 hours in the freezer; continued stirring at half-hour intervals for 5 total hours [as an alternative to having a proper ice-cream freezer; I think I picked up this trick from Mr. Cusick].  When mixture was approximately the consistency of apple sauce, I poured it into two pint-sized molds, and allowed it to freeze overnight.

Time: About half an hour of active work in the kitchen, five hours to initially freeze the mixture, 12 hours frozen in the mold, and a ton of time cleaning the stove afterwards. Would make again.

Cost: Price of oranges and sugar.  About $5?

How successful was it: It froze! Victory!  And I managed to remove them from the molds intact, too. Also tasted fairly nice; transportation had made the ices a bit soft, and the one which had more time to re-solidify before serving proved more successful, though both were eaten.

How accurate was it: Instructions were a bit vague, but I think they intended an ice-cream freezer (salt-water bath+inner container) to set the fruit ice before molding, at which point the described "ice cave" would be used--while the normal freezer sufficed for the latter, I was definitely taking liberties with the former.  Using two types of sugar wouldn't have been my first choice, either, but the syrup receipt did allow for three different types to be used, with varying amounts of egg white needed to clarify each.    

*Take a drink...

Orange peel in clarified sugar syrup for making fruit ices.
Clarified syrup with peel
Freezing the fruit ice.
Freezing the mixture
Orange water ice, from an 1865 recipe, like those served at Lincoln's Second Inaugural Ball.
One ice
1865 Fruit Water Ice, Lincoln Inaugural Ball.
Two Ice

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