Posts Tagged Baking
This is a summary of some of the delightful Blog articles I have been reading during the week. I invite you to graze through these, and also through the archives of the creative writers who wrote them.
Food canning equipment, tool carts, compost bins, growing kits, cider and fruit presses, the Squeezo Strainer, food dehydrators, juicers, smokers, cold frames, greenhouses and so many more innovations contribute to making our lives organized and healthier and to turning our homes and properties into an oasis where the living is good.
All of these things exist because we are creative and because we have a unique ability to adapt to our environment. In truth, foodies, homesteaders and gardeners who write about their experiences are telling the ongoing story of our inventive spirit. On their pages, every tool and appliance is like a paint brush; ready to express a new vision.
You can access the entire Weekend Highlights series to date by clicking on that category in the sidebar at left.
A note to fellow bloggers: I always place a link back to your blog on every image I use (even if the image is one I added). When I completed and reviewed this article, the image links would not hold. I will keep an eye on this and make sure links are included as soon as they stop disappearing. I am certain the WP tech team is looking into this. Now, to our Weekend Highlights… the show must go on!
Ten days to Christmas! Can you imagine? Stop everything. No matter how frantic it feels, just stop. Granny speaking! Pay attention! Now, think back to last year. The last-minute preparations, the ingredient that was missing and seemed like it would jeopardize the entire meal, the baking, the cooking, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker… oops! wrong story.
Really, think back to last year’s Holiday season and I dare you to tell me it did not turn out just fine. Remember one thing: only you have on your mind the image of how that dish will turn out or how things will come together. No one has the same expectations and this is precisely why everything always falls into place just as it should. Sometimes, all it take is a little nudge…
We begin this Weekend’s Highlights with just that. Introducing Bits and Breadcrumbs, an Atlanta, Georgia based Blog I discovered thanks to The Kitchen’s Garden. Make sure you add this to your reading list too.
Conveniently, the article I first came upon offers “a round-up of food and drink… you might enjoy this holiday season—the sweet, the savory and the in-between.” It is titled, appropriately so, A Holiday Round-Up: Some Sweet, Petite and Neat.
The author is Betsy Burts. A graphic designer by day, a passionate home cook, a lover of good food and drink, a supporter of organic, sustainable and local foods, and a Southern born and bred gal.” She is the recipient of several blogging awards, which means she is a much appreciated blogger, just so you know. Her blog includes an extensive list of food and sustainability-related as well as cookbooks.
The present article will surely inspire your Holiday table. Imagine Old Fashioned Ice Box Cookies; Sweet Cider Glazed Apple, Walnut and Oatmeal Cookies; Retro Cheese and Olive Bites, to name just a few tasty treats you might consider, including beverages to wash it all down. Read on!
I must add one more… Bacon Wrapped Dates with Pistachios and Apricots. Yum!
Maybe we’re going for a food theme here. We’ll see. But we must stop by The Pocket Farmer‘s blog because it has been quite a while since we’ve said hello. Also, this being the time of year when we typically take stock, many questions may come to mind, though not all of them related to our behavior. How about this question: Why Bake? This is a question about tradition and this is the perfect time to revisit, and embrace, tradition. Sweet. Just like baking.
“…for me, baking for the holidays is steeped in tradition and memories… It was the one time, all year, that the kitchen turned into a Willy Wonka factory and fabulous treats poured out for everyone to enjoy,…” begins The Pocket Farmer. “Test tasting was my favorite job!… Being able to share homemade holiday treats is like giving a gift and a hug at the same time,” she adds.
The holidays are about memories and memories connect us to our history. In homes across the country, we retell these memories every year. This keeps the oral tradition alive and reminds us of who we are. Interestingly, even now in the 21st century, much of the story of our traditions is told in the kitchen, around food. Read on…
Thanksgiving sets the mood for the Holiday Season. In addition to asking whether we have been good or bad, both playfully and somewhat seriously, this time of year inspires us to pause and examine the many small and big things in our lives for which we are grateful. Family would be first, no doubt. But as much as we try to convince ourselves that “things” do not bring happiness, in truth, many things do contribute to our happiness and to a very real sense of abundance during the holiday season.
Feathers on The Ground offers a truly original version of The 12 Days of Christmas. In a recent post titled, The Twelve Days of a Farm Christmas, the author’s personal touch brings to light the essence of this song: gratitude.
“…On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, two mallard ducklings and a farm in the country…” Come sing along…
Thank you for stopping by to read this Weekend’s Review. Please take a moment to leave a few words on the Blogs you enjoy, if you feel so inclined that is.
Angel Cake – The original Boston Cooking School Cook Book – 1884: “One cup of flour, measured after one sifting, and then mixed with one teaspoonful of cream of tartar and sifted four times. Beat the whites of eleven eggs, with a wire beater or perforated spoon, until stiff and flaky. Add one cup and a half of fine granulated sugar, and beat again; add one teaspoon of vanilla or almond, then mix in flour quickly and lightly. Line the bottom and funnel of a cake pan with paper not greased, pour in the mixture, and bake about forty minutes.”
“Hey, Granny Wise,” asked Sharyn Dimmick of The Kale Chronicles, soon after posting a recent article titled Tangerine Curd and Angel Food Cake, “Want to do some research on angel food cake? A couple of people have said they think it is a North American thing… Do you know?”
“How about this,” I spontaneously suggested, “Would you like to research ancient recipes and ingredients and I will research the history. How does this sound?” “Okay. You’re on. Granny,” was the prompt reply. “Huh Ho!” said Granny.
It is nearly impossible to talk about Angel Food Cake without talking about cake in general, its history and the advances in technology that made modern cakes possible. Cakes date back to ancient times. They were more bread-like then. They also included dried fruits and nuts and were characterized by what we call “long shelf life” today. Essentially, they were food that could be taken on long journeys without spoiling. Advanced baking skills are attributed to the Egyptians who prepared foods not only for journeys but also for leisure.
Before we go on, one question demands attention. Why are cakes round anyway? Precisely, because they are a variation on ancient bread-making techniques. In ancient times, dough was shaped into round balls and baked on heart stones. As they baked, they relaxed into round shapes, naturally. Food historians believe that the round baking pan, then, is mostly a matter of assisting an observed natural process. However, we must not overlook the symbolic meaning of the round cake. In earlier times, breads and cakes were used in religious ceremonies. In some cultures, round shapes represented the cyclical aspects of nature and life.
Speaking of the cyclical nature of life brings to mind the very provenance of ingredients. Our grand-mothers and their grand-mothers before them, grew a surprisingly large amount of their own food. This changed drastically with the development of urban lifestyles. Today, increasingly, some of the ingredients we bring to the kitchen to prepare meals and sweets come from personal crops raised on a few acres or in small seed houses, cold frames and greenhouses. We have brought some of the harvest closer to home again. In some ways, we have even made it more portable.
17th century bakers began using metal or wood rings into which dough was placed for baking. At this time also, ingredients such as refined sugars became more readily available and advances in technology lead to more efficient ovens. Creativity and resourcefulness set the course from then on. Thus one theory concerning Angel Food Cake, which is made with a large quantity of egg whites and no leavening or shortening, is that it was in fact made from leftover egg whites in an attempt to not discard valuable nourishment.
…”I offered her some curd,” writes Sharyn Dimmick in her Blog post,” She wanted eight jars. Eight jars! …See Sharyn scurrying around the garage, looking for empty jars of an appropriate size. ..See Sharyn making angel food cake from scratch to use those first twelve egg whites.” Making curd, then, presents a sweet opportunity, for one must surely make good use of the leftover egg whites.
“Thrifty Pennsylvania cooks …considered it sinful to waste anything,” remarks American Food: The Gastronomic Story, 2nd ed. Thus, some trace the origins of Angel Food Cake specifically to Southeastern Pennsylvania due to the abundance and variety of cake molds that were manufactured in that region in the early 1800′s. In fact, the introduction of the cake mold to the American household is largely attributed to the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Other historians suggest that African-American slaves were most likely to have made this sort of cake. First, because they prepared food for their masters and second because it is a very labor-intensive cake, requiring a strong arm for vigorous whisking. In addition to this, Angel Food Cake is a mainstay in the traditional African-American post-funeral feast. Perhaps this is because they were allowed very few ingredients for personal use.
The first hand-cranked, counter-rotating whisks egg beater was invented in 1870. By the late 1890′s, egg beaters could be purchased from the Sears catalog for 9¢. Today, by comparison, we have expanded the arsenal of kitchen implements exponentially. Think about this, today’s grand-mothers, to use a common image, will be teaching their children and grand-children very different cooking and baking strategies. They are using modern food dehydrators for fruits they add to cake mixes, sauce makers for the preparation of fruit toppings and cleverly designed specialty tools like cherry pitters that can stone as much as 30 pounds of cherries per hour.
The name Angel Food Cake appears for the first time in American Cookbooks around the late 19th century. An updated version of The Original Boston Cooking School Cook Book recipe at the beginning of this article appeared in 1896. This is the first recorded evidence of the full name, “Angel Food Cake.”
As for that actual origin of the name, some explain that, simply, the cake was said to be the “food of the angels” by virtue of its airy lightness. One must wonder if perhaps it did not acquire that name rather by virtue of being a special treat for the slaves who were allowed to prepare it for themselves on rare occasions. That is a plausible explanation as well, especially in light of their use of Angel Food Cake when honoring a deceased loved one.
Only one question remains to be resolved. What of the whole in the pan? Why a ring? Ingenuity, no less. This cake mold is also called a “tube pan.” Its shape allows the batter to rise higher because it can cling to all sides of the pan. There is no middle, so the middle cannot collapse on itself. I think it also makes it possible for delicious frosting to wrap itself around the cake. Isn’t that the best part?