As part of the Morley Literary Festival in October, I attended a lecture at Morley Town Hall given by Food Historian Dr Annie Gray. A witty, intelligent talk about the History of Cake. We listened how at one point in our history we were addicted to sugar, and we couldn’t get enough of the deliciousness that is cake.
It was thought provoking and you do have to ask yourself whether some modern cakes and many of those made during the Georgian era, splendidly decorated sculptured works of Art that they may be, are actually cake with their solid blocks of bland sponge, left in the freezer to harden for easier carving and shaping before being beautifully decorated. But are they really cake? Only the skilled can make a truly delicious cake, without compromising on taste and flavour. A cupcake is not a wedding cake.
For the occasion I made a Jubilee Tea Cake, from a recipe by Agnes Marshall dated c1888 sent in by Annie
A nice light sponge, where the egg whites are whipped to give lightness of texture, with flavours of Vanilla and Ground Almonds. It was gone in minutes once the Afternoon Tea part of the talk began.
I chatted to quite a few people, some from the WI, some CCC members and a quick chat with Annie to thank her for such a very interesting talk.
If you ever get the chance to go to a talk or lecture by Dr Annie Gray, I suggest you take it. You will not be disappointed.
Jubilee Tea Cake Recipe c1888 |Agnes Marshall via Dr Annie Gray. Food Historian
“Agnes Marshall was one of the leading cookery writers of the late nineteenth century. She held a number of culinary patents, sold the equipment she called for in her recipes, and also ran a cookery school while promoting her work through lecture tours. Her recipes tend toward the fussy and erratic, but can also be brilliant. She published recipes for ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen (take that, Heston!), and her Book of Ices is well worth obtaining if you are interested in increasing your range of ice cream flavours. This recipe is typically Victorian in appearance, and rather unusual for today’s tastes”.
From Dr Annie Gray. Food Historian
- 70ml or 2.5fl oz whipping or single cream
- 70ml or 2.5fl oz water
- 50g or 2oz unsalted butter
- 25g or 1oz castor sugar
- 75g or 3oz ground almonds
- 3 egg yolks and 1 1/2 egg whites
- Vanilla essence
- Pinch salt
- 300g or 12oz Icing sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp Strong tea, ditto warm water
- Sweetened desiccated coconut
- Finely chopped pistachio nuts
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 conventional or 160 fan. Butter a flan tin or cake tin approx 7″ in size and dust with castor sugar and a little flour.
- Mix the cream, water, butter and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Add the ground almonds and work well. Cook at a very low heat for 5mins to dry out slightly.
- Next whip the egg yolks with a few drops of vanilla essence until light and foamy. Add the warm almond mixture gradually, folding it in so as to keep the mix light.
- Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt to stiff peak, and fold into the mix.
- Now pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for around 20-25mins until light brown on top.
- The cake will be very flat – do not be alarmed! Allow to cool on a rack, and then make the glaze by mixing the icing sugar, tea and warm water. Heat through gently and pour on the cake. It will set very quickly due to being heated, so best pour and not try and smooth out.
- Use the coconut to coat the sides and about 2-3cm/1inch of the top and use the pistachios to fill in the middle. Can be served with tea, or with a fruit compote as dessert.