I promised I’d stop with the apple recipes (although the apples sure haven’t stopped!). But that was before I found a copy of the 1892 book The Every-Day Cook-Book and Encyclopedia of Practical Recipes. The book itself is not extraordinary, although it’s entertaining reading. What was surprising was that I found it in a used bookstore in the Raleigh NC airport on the way back from Bouchercon. I figured it must be an omen. I mean, who looks for collectible cookbooks in an airport?
Of course there are apple recipes, in addition to useful information like how to clean a corset and how to keep flies away from your gilt picture frames. I’m also rather fond of instructions for Smoothing Sad Irons (in case you’re desperate to know, a sad iron is a solid cast-metal iron that must be heated on a stove, and yes, I have a few antique ones). And then there are the instructions on how to stop bleeding: pour a handful of flour on the wound. Good to know.
|How we used to do things!|
Here’s the original version from the book:
Here’s the translation for modern cooks:
Grease the bottom and sides of a deep baking tin with butter. Line the buttered tin with slices of wheat bread. (You may have to trim them to fit.)
Peel and core your apples, cut them into small pieces, and fill the lined tin, layering them with butter (1/4 pound total) and sugar (1/2 pound total) and grated nutmeg.
Yet another note: A gallon of chopped apples is a lot of apples. I was happy to find I had a vintage tin (or basin) of the right size, but I quailed at the idea of chopping enough apples on any flat surface—bits tend to wander off in all directions. But then I had a brainstorm: I have a chopping bowl and a slew of choppers from the same vintage as the cookbook! (BTW, one of those choppers appears in A Gala Event.) If you chop in a big bowl, the apple pieces can’t escape.
Spread additional slices of the bread brushed with melted butter and cover the apple mixture. Lay a plate on top of the bread slices and weight it down with something heavy (I used a metal pot lid and a pair of foil-wrapped bricks).
Bake for two hours in a “quick” oven [you think I know what a quick oven is? Ha! I guessed 375 degrees, and it worked out just fine.]. Let cool slightly, then invert onto a plate (good luck with that!).
Of course, you don’t have to make a giant charlotte—you can tinker with the amounts of apples, based on whatever you have. Just add plenty of butter and sugar and you’ll be fine.
|I can't believe it came out in one piece!|