The Sense of Taste by Philippe Mercier.

Georgian era recipes for cheesecakes, custards, tarts and syllabubs

In our last blog, we looked at the Cheesecake House in Hyde Park where you could feast upon all manner of delicious cheesecakes, custards, tarts and syllabubs. Today, we thought we would share a few Georgian era recipes for these delicacies. One thing we need to get straight from the start, you don’t need cheese to make these cheesecakes… they were more akin to a Yorkshire curd tart.

The Cheesecake House in Hyde Park by Paul Sandby, 1797.
The Cheesecake House in Hyde Park by Paul Sandby, 1797. Royal Collection Trust

Observations upon Creams, Custards, and Cheesecakes

When you make any kind of creams and custards, take great care your tossing-pan be well tinned, put a spoonful of water in it, to prevent the cream from sticking to the bottom of your pan, then beat your yolks of eggs, and strain out the treads, and follow the direction of your receipt.

As to cheesecakes they should not be made long before you bake them, particularly almond or lemon cheesecakes, for standing them makes them oil and look sad, a moderate oven bakes them best, if it is too hot it burns them and takes off the beauty, and a very slow oven makes them sad and look black: make your cheesecakes up just when the oven is of a proper heat, and they will rise well, and be of a proper colour.

The Sense of Taste, English, c.1750.
The Sense of Taste, English, c.1750. Te Papa Tongarewa/Museum of New Zealand.

To make Cheesecakes

Set a quart of new milk near the fire, with a spoonful of rennet, let the milk be blood warm, when it is broke drain the curd through a coarse cloth, now and then break the curd gently with your fingers, rub into the curd a quarter of a pound of butter, a quarter of a pound of sugar, a nutmeg and two Naples’ biscuits grated, the yolks of four eggs, and the white of one egg, one ounce of almonds well beat, with two spoonfuls of rose water, and two of sack, clean six ounces of currants very well, put them into your curd, and mix them all well together.

To make Citron Cheesecakes

Boil a quart of cream, beat the yolks of four eggs, mix them with your cream when it is cold, then set it on the fire, let it boil till it curds, blanch some almonds, beat them with orange-flower water, put them into the cream, with a few Naples’ biscuits, and green citron shred fine, sweeten it to your taste, and bake them in tea-cups.

Enter Cowslip with a bowl of cream.
Enter Cowslip with a bowl of cream. © The Trustees of the British Museum

To make Bread Cheesecakes

Slice a penny loaf as thin as possible, pour on it a pint of boiling cream, let it stand for two hours, then take eight eggs, half a pound of butter, and a nutmeg grated, beat them well together, put in half a pound of currants well washed, and dried before the fire, and a spoonful of brandy, or white wine, and bake them in raised crusts, or petty-pans.

To make an Apple Tart

Scald eight or ten large codlings, when cold skim them, take the pulp, and beat it as fine as you can with a silver spoon, then mix the yolks of six eggs, and the whites of four, beat all together as fine as possible, put in grated nutmeg, and sugar to your taste, melt some fine fresh butter, and beat it till it is like a fine thick cream, then make a fine puff paste, and cover a tin petty-pan with it, and pour in the ingredients, but do not cover it with your paste; bake it a quarter of an hour, then slip it out of the petty-pan on a dish, and strew fine sugar, finely beat and sifted all over it.

Detail from Mock Turtle, Puff Pastry by Thomas Rowlandson. Royal Collection Trust (from their website: a buxom female chef rolls out pastry as she is caressed by a lascivious footman wearing green livery. On the table are coddling tarts, apple dumpling and batter pudding.)
Detail from Mock Turtle, Puff Pastry by Thomas Rowlandson. Royal Collection Trust (from their website: a buxom female chef rolls out pastry as she is caressed by a lascivious footman wearing green livery. On the table are coddling tarts, apple dumpling and batter pudding.)

To make Solid Syllabubs

Take a quart of rich cream, and put in a pint of white wine, the juice of four lemons and sugar to your taste, whip it up very well, and take off the froth as it rises, put it upon a hair sieve, and let it stand till the next day in a cool place, fill your glasses better than half full with the thin, then put on the froth, and heap it as high as you can; the bottom will look clear, and keep several days.

The Sense of Taste by Philippe Mercier.
The Sense of Taste by Philippe Mercier. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

To make Lemon Syllabubs

To a pint of cream put a pint of double refined sugar, the juice of seven lemons, and grate the rinds of two lemons into a pint of white wine, and half a pint of sack, then put them into a deep pot, and whisk them for half an hour, put it into glasses the night before you want it: it is better for standing two or three days, but it will keep a week, if required.

Detail of syllabubs from A Sense of Taste by Philippe Mercier.
Detail of syllabubs from A Sense of Taste by Philippe Mercier.

To make a common Custard

Take a quart of good cream, set it over a slow fire, with a little cinnamon, and four ounces of sugar; when it is boiled take it off the fire; beat the yolks of eight eggs, put to them a spoonful or orange-flower water to prevent the cream from cracking, stir them in by degrees as your cream cools, put the pan over a very slow fire, stir them carefully one way till it is almost boiling, then put it into cups, and serve them up.

The Pretty Bar Maid, 1778. An officer can be seen eating a custard or syllabub.
The Pretty Bar Maid, 1778. An officer can be seen eating a custard or syllabub. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Almond Custards

Put a quart of cream into a tossing-pan, a stick of cinnamon, a blade or two of mace, boil it and set it to cool, blanch two ounces of almonds, beat them fine in a marble mortar with rose water, if you like a ratafia taste put in a few apricot kernels, or bitter almonds, mix them with your cream, sweeten it to your taste, set it on a slow fire, keep stirring it till it is pretty thick, if you let it boil it will curdle, pour it into cups, &c.

Source:

The experienced English house-keeper, consisting of near 800 original receipts by Elizabeth Raffald, 1808 (first published in 1769)

18th-century Drinking Chocolate

The things we subject ourselves to in the name of research! Just recently Jo visited her local Christmas Market in the city of Lincoln and returned having purchased two packets of ‘18th Century Hot Chocolate Drink’, one for her and the other which she kindly sent to me, an acknowledged ‘chocoholic’ to sample.

The Chocolate Maiden; M. Beaune; Museums Sheffield
The Chocolate Maiden; M. Beaune; Museums Sheffield

I’m writing this blog with a most wonderful cup of the chocolate at the side of me. I have to say the taste is totally different to the usual brands of hot chocolate you buy in the supermarket today, it’s a much richer, creamy ‘chocolately’ taste and has been infused with long pepper, cardamom and cinnamon – the perfect drink for a frosty winter morning.

So the aim is that the blog should be written in the time it takes me to drink this lovely concoction!

As we all know chocolate has been enjoyed for centuries but as we focus on the 18th century it seems only right to take a quick peek at how the Georgians preferred to make the drink.

Chocolate seller
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

We begin with a recipe from a cookery book we have referred to before by M E Rundell:

Chocolate

Those who use much of this article will find the following mode of preparing it both useful and economical:

Cut the cake of chocolate in very small bits; put in a pint of water, and, when it boils put in the above. Mill it off the fire until quite melted, then on a gentle fire till it boil; pour into a basin and it will keep in a cool place eight or ten days or more. When wanted, put a spoonful or two into milk, boil it with sugar and mill it well.

This, if not made thick is a very good breakfast or supper.

We then move on to The experienced English house-keeper, consisting of near 800 original receipts by Elizabeth Raffald which suggests a slight variation on this method.

To Make Chocolate

Scrape four ounces of chocolate and pour one quart of boiling water on it, mill it well with a chocolate mill and sweeten it to your taste; give it a boil and let it stand all night, then mill it again very well; boil it two minutes, then mill it, it will leave a froth upon the top of your cups.

Finally, I have found a recipe by Hannah Glasse for preparing the chocolate itself which seems to be the closest match in taste to the drink I have just finished!

Chocolate

Still life with a Chocolate Service (1770) by Luis Egidio Meléndez. Courtesy of Prado Museum.
Still life with a Chocolate Service (1770) by Luis Egidio Meléndez. Courtesy of Prado Museum.

Featured image 

The Family of the Duke of Penthièvre in 1768, also known as The Cup of Chocolate. Jean-Baptiste Charpentier the Elder, 1768, oil on canvas, Château de Versailles.