Saturday, August 6, 2016

HFF 2.16: Foods Named After People

The Challenge: Make a dish named for someone.  I have no idea who Charlotte is, but it is a name.  And thus surely counts...

The Receipt: A "Charlotte ala Parisienne" from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery (page 326, sponge cakes page 362).
This dish is sometimes called a Vienna cake; and it is known also, we believe, as a Gateaux de Bordeaux. Cut horizontally into half-inch slices a sponge cake, and cover each slice with a different kind of preserve; replace them in their original form, and spread equally over the cake an icing made with the whites of three eggs, and four ounces of the finest pounded sugar; sift more sugar over it in every part, and put it into a very slack oven to dry. The eggs should be whisked to snow before they are used. One kind of preserve, instead of several, can be used for this dish; and a rice or a pound cake may, on an emergency, supply the place of the Savoy, or sponge biscuit . 
Rasp on some lumps of well-refined sugar the rind of a fine sound lemon, and scrape off' the part which has imbibed the essence, or crush the plums to powder, and add them to as much more as will make up the weight of eight or ten fresh eggs in the shell; break these one by one, and separate the whites from the yolks; beat the latter in a large bowl for ten minutes, then strew in the sugar gradually, and beat them well together. In the mean time let the whites be whisked to a quite solid froth, add them to the yolks, and when they are well blended sift and stir the flour gently to them, but do not beat it into the mixture; pour the cake into a well-buttered mould, and bake it an hour and a quarter in a moderate oven.
Rasped rind, 1 large lemon; fresh eggs, 8 or 10; their weight of dry, sifted sugar; and half their weight of flour: baked, 1 1/4 hour, moderate oven. 
Five full-sized eggs, the weight of four in sugar, and of nearly three in flour, will make an exceedingly good cake: it may be flavoured, like the preceding one, with lemon-rind, or with bitter almonds, vanilla, or confected orange-blossoms reduced to powder. An hour will bake it thoroughly. All the ingredients for sponge cakes should be of good quality, and the sugar and flour should be dry; they should also be passed through a fine sieve kept expressly for such purposes. The excellence of the whole depends much on the manner in which the eggs are whisked; this should be done as lightly as possible; but it is a mistake to suppose that they cannot be too long beaten, as after they are brought to a state of perfect firmness they are injured by a continuation of the whisking, and will at times curdle, or render a cake heavy from this cause.

The Date/Year and Region: American 1858 edition of a 1845 (?) English cookbook

How Did You Make It: Prepared the sponge cake per the first instructions and second ingredient quantities: separated five eggs, and beat the whites until firm. Separately beat the yolks, and added ~8 oz sugar, then the egg whites, and finally ~6 oz of flour.  I took the liberty of substituting almond extract (2 tsp) for the bitter almonds to flavor the cake.  Baked in a buttered pan for 1 hour at 350F.

Allowed the cake to cool overnight, then sliced the cake into 3 layers.  Put blackberry preserves on the bottom and replaced the middle section; spread raspberry preserves on the middle layer and placed the top back on.  Beat three egg whites* stiff and added 4 oz of sugar to make icing, then iced the cake, sprinkled on granulated sugar, and placed it in a warm oven to set.

Time to Complete: Just under 2 hours, including baking time, exclusive of cooling.

Total Cost: Ingredients on hand

How Successful Was It? The icing was considerably runnier that I would have liked: the egg whites were nice and firm until I added the sugar, at which point the whole thing liquefied.  This wasn't a problem for the top of the Charlotte, where the heat caused the icing to set nicely, but it made it very difficult to cover the sides.  Tasted nice.

How Accurate Is It?  The almond extract substituting for the bitter almonds has already been noted. The type of sugar to apply over the icing was not specified, so I guessed and used granulated.  It made a pretty (if subtle) effect.
1850s "Charlotte ala Parisienne" sponge cake, in progress.
Raspberry preserves on the sponge cake.

1850s "Charlotte ala Parisienne" from Acton's "Modern Cookery."
The finished dessert.

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