Friday, July 22, 2016

HFF 2.15: Smell, Sight, Sound, Touch

The Historical Food Fortnightly Icon

The Challenge: Create a "feast for the senses."  I tried to make a dish that was pretty as well as tasty (sort of remixing Challenge #7).  The baking paste also smelled sort of nice?  I've got nothing on sound, however.

The Receipt: From Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management: 
1321. INGREDIENTS – Puff-paste No. 1205, the white of an egg, sifted loaf sugar. 
Mode.—Make some good puff-paste by recipe No. 1205; roll it out to the thickness of about 1/4 inch, and, with a round fluted paste-cutter, stamp out as many pieces as may be required; then work the paste up again, and roll it out to the same thickness, and with a smaller cutter, stamp out sufficient pieces to correspond with the larger ones. Again stamp out the centre of these smaller rings; brush over the others with the white of an egg, place a small ring on the top of every large circular piece of paste, egg over the tops, and bake from 15 to 20 minutes. Sift over sugar, put them back in the oven to colour them; then fill the rings with preserve of any bright colour. Dish them high on a napkin, and serve. So many pretty dishes of pastry may be made by stamping puff-paste out with fancy cutters, and filling the pieces, when baked, with jelly or preserve, that our space will not allow us to give a separate recipe for each of them; but, as they are all made from one paste, and only the shape and garnishing varied, perhaps it is not necessary, and by exercising a little ingenuity, variety may always be obtained. Half-moons, leaves, diamonds, stars, shamrocks, rings, etc., are the most appropriate shapes for fancy pastry. 
1205. INGREDIENTS – To every lb. of flour allow 1 lb. of butter, and not quite 1/2 pint of water. 
Mode.—Carefully weigh the flour and butter, and have the exact proportion; squeeze the butter well, to extract the water from it, and afterwards wring it in a clean cloth, that no moisture may remain. Sift the flour; see that it is perfectly dry, and proceed in the following manner to make the paste, using a very clean paste-board and rolling-pin:—Supposing the quantity to be 1 lb. of flour, work the whole into a smooth paste, with not quite 1/2 pint of water, using a knife to mix it with: the proportion of this latter ingredient must be regulated by the discretion of the cook; if too much be added, the paste, when baked, will be tough. Roll it out until it is of an equal thickness of about an inch; break 4 oz. of the butter into small pieces; place these on the paste, sift over it a little flour, fold it over, roll out again, and put another 4 oz. of butter. Repeat the rolling and buttering until the paste has been rolled out 4 times, or equal quantities of flour and butter have been used. Do not omit, every time the paste is rolled out, to dredge a little flour over that and the rolling-pin, to prevent both from sticking. Handle the paste as lightly as possible, and do not press heavily upon it with the rolling-pin. The next thing to be considered is the oven, as the baking of pastry requires particular attention. Do not put it into the oven until it is sufficiently hot to raise the paste; for the best-prepared paste, if not properly baked, will be good for nothing. Brushing the paste as often as rolled out, and the pieces of butter placed thereon, with the white of an egg, assists it to rise in leaves or flakes. As this is the great beauty of puff-paste, it is as well to try this method.

The Date/Year and Region: 1861, British

How Did You Make It: Made up puff paste using 1/4 lb each of butter and flour: used a scant 1/4 cup of water to make the flour into a paste, then rolled it out four times to incorporate the butter. Cut into rounds and stars, using an icing tip to cut out the center of the stars.  Brushed egg white over the rounds, layered on the stars, and applied more egg white. Baked 15 min at 400F, adding sugar 2 for the last 2 minutes.  Allowed to cool, then placed a spoonful of blackberry preserves on the center of each.

Time to Complete: 3/4-1 hour

Total Cost: All ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It?: Fairly.  The pastry is nice and flaky.  The jam is jam.  Could possibly use a larger proportion of jam to pastry, but it's palatable as is--even if it didn't turn out a pretty as i could have hoped.

How Accurate Is It?: I used store-bought preserves, and the usual "electric oven instead of wood or coal-powered oven".

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