Imagine you are a chef in a genteel household around 1815. Your master and mistress enjoy eating cake, and they also like to boast of the quality of ‘their kitchen’ to the guest of their dinners and assemblies. So, they constantly urge you to stay abreast of the latest trends in baking. Cakes at Royal Parties, they hear, are of a fluffy texture and delicious sweetness.
They give you free rein to achieve similar results, whatever the cost and changes to the kitchen may be. Check out five innovations that help you to succeed in this task. But be aware: baking powder is not yet available!
Let’s imagine you are a dealer of tea in London during the 18th century. Over the past decades, tea, once the luxury product for the super-rich, has reached the middle and lower classes. It is highly popular. This means a large target group for your product, but also a higher demand that must be met in times of war, trade embargos and economic depression. Tea leaves are expensive and there are heavy duties on it payable to government.
In short: Times are rough, life is hard – it thus seems rather pardonable to find ways to enrich yourself by certain methods one might call imitating tea (‘counterfeit’ is such a harsh word). Nobody will ever find out, and of course, you don’t mean to harm anyone. Plus, you are doing a favour to the lower classes that would not be able to enjoy a nice cup of tea at all if they had to pay the prices for genuine tea. Right?
Now, let’s see how tea was be imitated in the 18th century …
Imagine you are a talented cook in London in the year 1801. You have just hired the rooms for your own tavern, and you are eager to make it a hit with well-off customers. Fortune is on your side: You can get a copy of the first cooking book published by John Mollard, the famous chef of prestigious 18th-century London restaurants catering to high-quality customers. It covers all his great recipes. With the help of this book, you compile your menu easily. Finally, all you need is a brilliant idea for the dessert. Cake, sweetmeats … or something really special? Your eyes alight at “Devilled Almonds”: Great name, and almonds are quality food. Read here how to prepare the dish in 1801, and what to consider when buying the ingredients.
Recent research shook food historians and the community of 18th-century enthusiasts alike: The beloved British dessert, Apple Charlotte, was not invented by the famous chef Marie-Antoine Carême! Credit for the sweet creation made of apples, white bread, butter, and sugar was given to a certain John Mollard. – But who was he?
Mr. Mollard was a leading chef and had run a number of prestigious restaurants catering to high-quality customers in the period from the 1780s to 1830. However, it is doubtful that he did indeed invent the Apple Charlotte.
“Nobody, I fancy, can be fonder of Coffee than I am.”
– Count Rumford (inventor, soldier, statesman, spy, womanizer, and philanthropist)-
Today, we are used to enjoy coffee everywhere, and the caffeinated drink “to go” is an added delight to walking in the streets or riding on a train. In the late 18th century, there were, of course, coffee houses in the cities. But would you have been able to take coffee with you on a trip or on a campaign?
Thanks to Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (1753 – 1814), coffee could be prepared to be preserved for a considerable time, and you would have been able to reheat it, or to enjoy it cold wherever you wanted. Find out here how one of the most eccentric and dazzling persons of the 18th century prepared his beloved coffee as a “to go” version. Continue reading
You love cake. You also love the 18th century. What could keep you from baking a cake with a recipe from this era? It would make a great first-hand experience!
Well, I rather suck at baking. So I asked a good friend to help out: ‘Thunderbread‘, who is accomplished in all kitchen matters.
From a selection of 200 years old cake recipes, he chose the one for Savoy Cake from 1802.
Find out all about his 18th-century baking challenges such as dealing with measurements, making the best of scarce instructions and choosing the appropriate mixing techniques.
Brandy, tea, salt – these products are famed-famous as objects of smuggling in the 18th century. Did you know that Scottish whisky was an object of the illegal trade, especially between 1780 – 1823? Whisky was called ‘moonshine’ then, as it was illicitly produced at night in small cottages in the Highlands, and secretly transported by smugglers to harbours for further distribution.