A new name, a new look, and a new site

When I first started Kitchen Historic in 2011, I really had no idea what I was doing.

I was beginning to really get into my history degree and I enjoyed cooking, so I figured why not combine those interests and start a blog.

In the five years since then I have learned a lot about historical cookery. I've learned what a slow oven and a hot oven are. I've learned what butter the size of an egg is and what galangal is. I've learned to interpret vague instructions and to never use as many eggs as a recipe tells me to. I've struggled with issues of authenticity. It's been a great adventure, and I'm so thankful to have had many supportive readers along the way.

But after five years, it's time for change.

To be honest, this is something I've been thinking about for quite a while. And while I hope it won't cost me what I've built up over the years, I feel it's necessary. And it's time.

So the bad news is, I'm closing Kitchen Historic...

And opening a new, hopefully even better version!

My new blog is called Food Roots.
It's the same idea, same purpose, and same types of posts. It's just a new name, a new look, and a new URL. It's essentially an upgrade. I wanted to shed this old blog and move forward with something new and fresh.

This will be my last post on Kitchen Historic.
The blog and content will all stay here.
I'm still working out kinks and figuring out how I want things to be, but I hope you'll follow along with my new adventures over at Food Roots!
Please note that I will also be changing my twitter and facebook.

Thank you so much for everything,

[HFF] Pineapple Caramel Upside-Down Cake (1935)

[In case you're wondering, yes, I did skip challenge #5. I can't get roastable cuts of meat here and I couldn't find a suitable alternative. Sorry!]

For this HFF challenge, I decided to go retro with a pineapple upside-down cake.

Let's talk about pineapples.

Dole advertisement, 1952
I'm going to focus on Hawaiian pineapples, since this recipe comes from a Dole cookbook. No one really knows when exactly the first pineapples were introduced to Hawaii, however, they were first recorded in 1813. Outside of Hawaii, early on, and before canning, pineapple was a mark of well-to-do tables. With it's unusual appearance and the fact that it was not easily grown in the continental states, pineapple was an exotic luxury for those who could afford it. In fact, early colonials were so entranced by pineapple that it was featured in art, design, ice and jelly molds, and even architecture!

Canning of pineapple began in Baltimore in the mid-1860s, but this fruit was imported from the Caribbean, not Hawaii. Pineapple canning in Hawaii first began with the quickly defunct Kona Fruit Preserving Co. in 1882, and it was not until 1901 that James D. Dole founded Dole's Hawaiian Pineapple Company. Dole's company flourished, and as a result Dole's can credited as a major contribution to the rapid growth of the canned pineapple industry.

By the 1920s, canned pineapple was readily available and by 1930 Hawaii was leading the world in the production of canned pineapple. By 1933 there was also a rapid growth in sales of canned pineapple juice, an important by-product which increased industry profits after the Great Depression. However, by the end of World War II, the industry had changed. New competitors emerged and cheap foreign canneries eventually replaced all the canneries on Hawaii. Today, only fresh pineapples are grown in Hawaii, and mostly for local consumption. Nevertheless, Hawaii's pineapple legacy is so strong that even today dishes made with pineapple are often called "Hawaiian style".


The Ladies' Home Journal, 1953
Upside-down cakes likely grew out of old American methods of cooking. "Skillet cakes" were traditionally cooked in a cast iron pan, on top of the stove. With fruit and a sugar put in the pan first, when inverted onto a plate the cake would appear already decorated. It's quite probable that the classic pineapple upside-down cake has it's origins in these recipes. 

In 1925, Dole ran a contest calling for canned pineapple recipes. In the end, one recipe for pineapple upside down cake was published in the compiled cookbook, however, Dole apparently received 2,500 recipes for the cake! Clearly by 1925 pineapple upside-down cake was widely known. Although pineapple upside-down cake enjoyed a lot of popularity, today it is often seen as "retro" and a nostalgic symbol of the mid-century, especially when topped with vibrant red maraschino cherries!

Today's recipe comes from a 1935 cookbook released as part of a Dole advertising scheme. 

HFF Challenge:
6. Juicy Fruits (March 11 - March 24) It’s fruits! Do something with fruits. It doesn’t get more simple than that. Bonus points for use of heritage crops and ingredients!

Original Recipe:

The Verdict:
Amusingly, when Mr. Man saw me buying canned pineapple, he became very alarmed and said to me, "You better not be making one of those cakes." He complained that upside-down cakes are always soggy and gross because of the fruit. Clearly this retro classic isn't a welcome throwback for all of us.

In the end, the cake itself was okay. It fell quite a bit after I took it out of the oven. The "caramel" topping was basically goop. And with 1/2 cup of sugar, it was VERY sweet. The pineapple was the best part, as it cut the sugary sweetness and added flavor, which was otherwise lacking.

Mr. Man and I both rated this cake "just okay". It's definitely edible and not awful, but the mushiness and over sweetness of the topping really didn't do this cake any favours.

I can't get canned Dole fruits, so I used another brand. I did use Dole pineapple juice.
I didn't put 3 tablespoons of butter on the bottom, but I did liberally grease the pan.
I baked the cake in an oven-safe frying pan.


[HFF] Valentine Crunch (1961)

It's time for Historical Food Fortnightly challenge number four! No surprise to anyone, I'm sure, this challenge's theme is based on Valentine's Day and it's sweet traditions.

Now, HFF technically describes "historical" to mean anything up to 1960, so I'm fudging it a little here with this 1961 recipe. It comes from the Lakeland Ledger, a newspaper based in Florida. 
The Challenge:
4. Sweets for the Sweet (February 12 - February 25) It’s sugar, and maybe spice, and definitely everything nice. Test out a historic recipe for sweets, sweetmeats and candies - but don’t let them spoil your appetite!

The Recipe:
Valentine Crunch
Yield: 1 pound

3/4 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup coconut, optional
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces

Melt margarine in a heavy saucepan. Add sugar and combine well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is well blended and begins to bubble. Add water and corn syrup and mix well. Continue cooking mixture over low heat, stirring frequently, until 290 degrees F. registers on a candy thermometer or until a drop in cold water "cracks" or is brittle. Remove from heat.

Stir in nuts, coconut, and rum extract. Pour out onto a cooky sheet. Cool to room temperature. Melt semi-sweet chocolate pieces over boiling water. Spread evenly over candy and set aside until firm. When firm, break into pieces
The Verdict:
Unfortunately, it seems that I've already got my recipe for challenge 24, "Redo". I'm not sure if it was the temperature or the corn syrup substitution, but my candy went from liquid and glossy to thick and crumbly. There was no "crunch" at all. I hoped it would keep together well once it cooled down, but unfortunately it didn't work out that way. Also, I found it way too sweet for my tastes - I think maybe having the chocolate mixed in instead of just on top might help...on the other hand, Mr. Man really loved it!


* I can't get corn syrup here, so I tried using mizuame.
* I didn't have a thermometer, so I used the cold water method.
* I used almonds and peanuts as my nuts.
* I forgot the rum extract, so I sprinkled some on top at the last minute. I couldn't really taste it.

[HFF] To bake Spritzgebackenes (1553)

I recently came across and interesting historical foodie challenge called  Historical Food Fortnightly. I wanted to join immediately. I know I've been scarce around here for the past year and a half. My hope is that I can start posting here more often, and that having specific challenges to complete will help me with that. From now on, my challenge posts will be tagged with HFF to indicate that they are part of Historical Food Fortnightly. Since I missed the first two challenges, here is my answer to challenge number three - history detective!

The Brief:
3. History Detective (January 29 - February 11) For this challenge, you get to be the detective! Either use clues from multiple recipes to make a composite recipe, or choose a very vague recipe and investigate how it was made.
I spent some time reading through cookbooks and flip-flopping between ideas for this challenge, but I felt especially drawn to a 1553 recipe for Spritzgebackenes. This recipe comes from a cookbook called Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, so named because it was written by a woman named Sabina Welserin, whose family was part of the mercantile upper class in Augsburg. This was a private, hand-written cookbook, so it was never published in Sabina's lifetime - in fact, not until 1980. It was translated into English in 1998.

A very preliminary search pulled up the Wikipedia entry for Spritzgebäck. Often known as spritz or German/Scandanavian spritz cookies, it seemed like my search was over! But alas, that would be too easy, wouldn't it.

I went to work looking for other recipes under name variations on Spritzgebäck and spritz cookies. I collected a variety of recipes from 1941 to 2009 and started comparing. But something was odd. The 1553 recipe called for milk, but no other recipe did. And the 1553 recipe mentioned frying, but spritz cookies are baked (could this be a translation error? I wondered). I decided I needed to take the leap into German-language cookbooks.

Initially, I was having some difficulty finding German cookbooks, but as it turns out, HathiTrust Digital Library was my big break. In the cookbook, Tausend und ein rezept (c.1916), I found an intriguing recipe for Spritz-Krapfen. This recipe called for a choux dough which is fried in hot fat and sprinkled with vanilla sugar. Although it was in a completely different direction than where I was headed, it felt similar to my 1553 recipe.

Then I found another cookbook, Die vollkommene Köchin (1838). Amazingly, it had a recipe titled Spritz-Gebackenes - the exact title of the 1553 recipe I started with. However, the ingredients and the methods were very similar to the 1916 Spritz-Krapfen. This recipe did not resemble any spritz cookie recipes I had looked at earlier.

Now, for a mini German lesson (keeping in mind, my German is very basic, so please correct me if I'm wrong on any account). Spritz is a form of the verb spritzen, which means to squirt or inject. Gebacken means baked. Gebäck can mean cookies, biscuits, tarts, or buns. And Krapfen means doughnut. So we have a lot of options here. But with the "spritz" prefix, we can at least assume that the dough for whatever may be produced is squirted out somehow. Originally, I was certain the 1553 recipe was a precursor of today's short, buttery spritz cookies. But after considering the ingredients, the frying method, and the discovery of the 1838 recipe, I believe the 1553 recipe is for fried choux pastry doughnuts.

Now, onto the recipes! Aside from the 1553 recipe, I must disclose that I translated and transcribed entirely myself, with the help of Google Translate. So please be aware that while it was not my intention, there may be mistakes, and if you notice any, please let me know!

1553 Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin Transcription / Translation:

Ain spritzenbaches zú bachen
Nim ain masß wasser oder milch aúff ain disch vnnd thú
es jn ain pfannen, lasß sieden, rier ain schen mell darein/
das er woll drúcken wirt/ nim jn aús der pfannen, well jn
woll, doch mit mell darein/ thú jn dan jn ainen morser,
stosß jn woll mit airen, bis er zech vnnd gút wirt/ thú jn/ jn
die bix, bach jn langsam.

162 To bake Spritzgebackenes Take one quart* of water or milk for a meal and put it into a pan. Bring it to a boil, stir good flour into it, so that the dough becomes fairly dry, take it out of the pan, roll it out well, but with additional flour, put it into a mortar, blend it well with eggs, until it becomes good and sticky, put it in a pastry bag, fry them slowly. 
* The original German is masß, which would have been 1.4 litres.

1838 Die vollkommene Köchin Transcription / Translation:

Nro. 26 Spritz – Gebackenes.
Man nimmt 1 Schoppen gute, unabgerahinte Milch in eine messingne Pfanne, thut ein Stückchen Zuder hinzu, läßt es ausfochen, thut 3 Mehllöffel voll fein Mehl darein und feßt die Masse wieder aufs Feuer ; wenn der Taig furz von einander geht, so ist er gut. Dann thut man ihn in eine Schüssel, schlägt 8 Eier daran, arbeitet es daikit durch, schlägt wieder 3 bis 4 Eier dazu und schafft es abermals so lange durch, bis es platzt. Dann macht man Schmalz in einer Pfanne heiß, füllt etwas von dem Taig in eine Spritze und sprizt es darein. Man gießt während des Backens immer etwas Schmalz darüber und backt es auf beiden Seiten schön gelbraun. Wenn das erste Gebäck fertig ist, legt man es auf Brodschnittchen und fährt so sort, bis der Taig zu Ende ist ; [w?]ann befireut man sie noch warm mit Zuder und Zimmt.

Take 1 pint of creamed milk* in a brass pan*, add a bit of sugar, let it boil, add 3 flour spoon scoops of fine flour, and put it again on the fire; when the dough* comes apart, it is good. Then put in a bowl, beat in 8 eggs, working it thoroughly, beat again 3 or 4 eggs into that and beat thus once more for a long time, until it bursts. Then heat lard in a pan, fill some of the dough into a syringe and squirt it in. Pour over the pastries always some fat and bake it nice on both sides until it is beautiful golden brown. When the first pastry is ready, place it on a Brotschnittchen* and immediately pass the dough over; when free while still warm put sugar and cinnamon.
* I found “unabgerhinte” in several old culinary books, but I believe the modern German phrase is “aufgerahmte Milch”, which translates to “creamed milk”.
* After a lot of research, I believe messingne Pfanne translates to brass pan. In modern German, messing means brass, therefore messing Pfanne would be the modern spelling.
* This very clearly looks like “Taig” to me, but Teig (dough), seems to be the modern word/spelling.
* This seems to translate to bread sandwiches or canapes/tidbits. Not sure if this is referring to a method of plating/preparation, or perhaps to drain the excess oil onto bread before rolling.

c.1916 Tausend und ein rezept Transcription / Translation:

726. Spritz-Krapfen.
Man fuellt eine Strauben-Spritze, (Krapfen Spritze) oder man einen Stern oder sonst eine Form einsetzt, mit dem Brandteig No.667 und schiebt den teig mit leichtem Druck in rauchend heisses Fett No. 408, wobei man, wenn die eingelegte Straube die gewuenschte Groesse hat, abbrechen und immer wieder frisch ansetzen muss. Es muss genuegend Fett in der Pfanne sein, damit die Strauben darin schwimmen und darf man nur 3 oder 4 auf einmal einlegen, bewegt die Pfanne ganz leicht etwas hin und her und wenn auf der unteren Seite goldfarben, dreht man die Spritzkrapfen mit einem Loeffel um. Sie werden bis alle fertig sind, auf Papier gelegt und dann aufgehaeuft mit Vanille-Zucker bestreut warm servirt. Man reicht Marmelade, Compote oder auch eine beliebige, suess Sauce dazu.

Fill a strauben-syringe (doughnut syringe), which has a star or some other form, with the choux No. 667 and push the dough lightly into smoking hot fatt No. 408, in which,  if the inserted doughnut makes the required size, break it off and again you must begin afresh. There must be enough fat in the pan, so that the doughnuts floating in it must be 3 or 4 at once, the pan moves easily back and forth slightly, and when golden on the bottom, turn the squirted doughnuts around with a spoon. When they all become done, place on paper and then heap with vanilla sugar strewn over and serve warm. With it, marmelade, compote, or even any sweet sauce.

667. Gebruehter Teig (Brandtieg).
Drei Unzen (9 Dkg.) Butter werden mit einer Tasse Milch, ein wenig Zucker und Salz aufgekocht, dann werden 5 Unzen (15 Dkg.) Mehl dazu geschuettet, und rasch auf dem Feuer fort-waehrend geruehrt und abgeschlagen bis es einen glatten, dicken sammtartigen Brei gibt, der sich von Loeffel und Casserole losloest. Wenn abgekuehlt, kommen nach und nach sechs ganze Eier dazu und verwendet man den Teig nach Angabe.

Three ounces (9 dekagrams) butter boiled with a cup of milk, a little sugar and salt, and then five ounces flour (15 dekagrams), and quickly stirred constantly on the fire until smooth and blended, thick and velvety mixture,  which comes apart from the spoon and pan. When cooled, gradually add six whole eggs to it and use the dough according to instructions.

(Note: for space and because I didn't utilize it, I've left out recipe No.408 About the Fat, but it is available here.)

The Verdict:
These are soooooo good! We literally had to stop ourselves from eating all at once. And they totally turned out how I imagined! They are best rolled in sugar, but to be honest, the plain dough isn't bad either! It takes a bit of elbow grease to work that dough, and the frying takes a while, but I would definitely make these again.

The original 1553 recipe calls for nearly 6 cups of milk...that would make a TON of doughnuts. So I reduced the recipe way down to the 1916 amounts. Since the original recipe didn't list amounts for anything other than milk and I didn't want 247 doughnuts, I figured it was best.

I used an electric hand mixer to help me out with mixing the dough. I didn't have a mortar or a good spoon and it was really difficult to get the eggs fully incorporated. 

I used canola oil for frying. Obviously such a processed item wasn't available at the time, but I didn't have the means nor the money to get my hands on any other fat for frying (the 1916 recipe mostly mentions fat taken from animals).

It's really helpful to have another set of hands to immediately take cooked doughnuts and roll them in sugar while they're warm, as they cool quickly.

On the note of cinnamon sugar, it was not referenced in the 1553 recipe. Since cinnamon and sugar are both frequently mentioned elsewhere in the cookbook, they were certainly available. And since more recent recipes mention dredging in sugar, I feel it's still a relevant addition to the 1553 recipe.

If you pipe shapes onto parchment paper and freeze them for 20 minutes or so, you can have greater control over shapes.

Modernized Recipe:

1 cup whole milk
5 ounces flour
4 large eggs

1. In a saucepan, heat the milk to boiling. When it has boiled, take it off the heat. Beat in the flour (using a strong spoon or a stand mixer) until it comes away from the spoon and pan and makes a ball.
2. When you can handle it, knead the dough to make it smooth, using a bit of flour.
3. Let the dough cool to room temperature. Add the eggs one at a time. If it's too difficult, use your hands to mix in the eggs as best you can. If you haven't been using a stand mixer, once one or two eggs have been added and the dough is loose, you can use a hand mixer.
4. Put the dough into a pastry bag with your desired tip. Heat oil in a pan - enough that the spritzgebackenes will float as they cook. 
5. Using the pastry bag, squirt dough into the oil. Flip it at least once. Cook to golden brown. Cook time depends on size and shape, but shouldn't take long. If desired, roll in cinnamon sugar while warm.

Orange Butter Cookies (1967) ★★★★

This recipe comes from a 1967 volume of Boys' Life, a magazine which has been printed by the Boy Scouts of America since 1911. It was printed in a column called Tim's Tips, which featured Christmas cookie recipes.

Original Recipe:

The Verdict:

I was nervous about these cookies! I had to re-read several times to make sure I wasn't missing a leavener. Oh - and as a disclaimer, I used a mixture of butter and margarine in my batter. The batter was very wet and sticky, even after being chilled for several hours. After chilling the dough, I baked a batch. They came out very pale and soft inside - almost cake-like. But the edges were very crisy and brown. I thought maybe it was because I had used a hot pan, but I got the same result when I re-baked with a cold pan and frozen cookie dough. Taste-wise, they're nice, but perhaps a tiny bit bland. The citrus zest was definitely there, though. I think they just needed a bit of vanilla. I thought they were good, but not great. I would eat them by choice, but I'm not sure I'd make this recipe again myself. Mr. Man really loved them, though!

Modernized Recipe:

(Adapted from Boys' Life, vol. 57 no. 12)

The original recipe is delicious and easy to follow. Add a splash of vanilla, if you fancy.