Wednesday 27 July 2016

Spritzen - German Puff Cakes

Spritzen means to squirt in German, and often spritz cookies are made from a dough that is "squirted" through a cookie press to make nice shapes.  Let me tell you, these spritzen are nothing like a cookie.  In fact it is hard to say what they are.  Mine turned out like very sweet, very eggy puddings that you had to eat out of the cup with a spoon. Other students have said it is like Yorkshire pudding, and the photo on the course sheet looks like gorgeous muffins!

puff cakes or puddings?

Clearly it depends on the quantities of egg, sugar and flour that you use.  That being the big problem, in that the recipe tells you next to nothing about quantities and method. Before the advent of the cookbooks that we are used to, you had to be a bloody good cook/mind-reader.

So here it is - my weird and wonderful version of Spritzen, a late Georgian recipe that would have been made and served to King George III and his family.  The Georges I and II were born in Germany, while Georges III and IV were native-born to the UK. Clearly they were not in a hurry to integrate!  And they liked their German tucker, which must have made them feel at home in their new land.

Serves 4:


2 small eggs

2 tbs cornflour or plain flour

228 mls cream or milk

56g. melted butter

2 tbs caster sugar

a pinch of sea salt

1/2 doz. turns of the vanilla bean grinder or 1/2 tsp of extract

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

icing/powdered sugar to cast over the tops


Break 2 eggs into a small mixing bowl

Beat well with electric hand beaters till very fluffy - or, as our course sheet tells us - beat them to within an inch of their life

Add the flour and beat to incorporate

Pour in the cream or milk, and the melted butter

Whisk again with the beaters

Add the sugar, the salt and the spices

Beat again till it is fluffy and well mixed

Take 4 tea cups and grease them lightly with butter

Pour in the batter, leaving a bit of room for expansion

Place them on a baking tray

Bake at 190C for about 20 minutes - it may take a little more depending on your oven

Sprinkle generous amounts of icing sugar over them while warm

Eat with a spoon if they won't come out of the cups:=)

ingredients - gleaming in the sun 

frothing up the eggs

beating in the flour

whisking in the cream, butter, sugar and spices   

ready for baking in the cups  

about to ladle the batter into the cups   

ready for the oven

almost finished

baked and ready to eat

Well, who knows what these should really be like?  The original recipe doesn't tell you to butter the cups, so perhaps that made a difference to the end result.  There is no sugar used in the original batter either, but I felt I wanted a sweet morsel rather than a very plain one.  We don't know the size of the spoon for the flour, so maybe extra would make them more cake-like.  And using plain flour would perhaps have given them a slightly stronger texture. 

Anyway I served them to Mr P. and sis-in-law after dinner, and they went down a treat. Another fun experiment in my History of Royal Food course.  We all seem to be interpreting the recipes differently, so it is fun to discuss the varying results.  And of course, there is a bit of conversion of weights and measures going on.  You have to remember that these are old pints, not new pints; that UK pints are different to US pints and so on.  Phew!

Original recipe Mary Cole. 
The Lady’s Complete Guide, 1788 

Mix two spoonfuls of fine flour with two eggs well beat, half a pint of cream or milk and two ounces of melted butter; stir it all well together, and add a little salt and nutmeg. Put them in tea-cups, or little deep tin moulds, half full, and bake them a quarter of an hour in a quick oven; but let it be hot enough to colour them and top and bottom. Turn them into a dish, and strew powder sugar over them.

my puff cake in a cup doodle

Friday 22 July 2016

Soup Barley

For some reason, they are calling this recipe soup barley in our History of Royal Food course, rather than barley soup.  Anyway it is a thick and hearty dish, just right for King George.  Poor old George III had a bad tummy, so often ate a simple soup at the start of his dinner.  Then of course another 8 dishes came to the table! 

I love barley; it brings back childhood memories of mum's Sunday night soups.  And as barley swells so much when it is cooked, it must have been a boon to a busy mum trying to feed 4 hungry children.

I was a bit worried that this soup would not be very flavourful as it has so few ingredients but it was in fact delicious.  You need to use a really good stock (plus I threw in a couple of sneaky ingredients).



1.9L of good quality stock - I used chicken but use your fave

225g. pearl barley

30g. butter

2 tbs olive oil

2 brown onions, shredded or finely chopped

190g. mushrooms

30g. sultanas or raisins

2 pinches dried thyme leaves

1 pinch dried chilli flakes

pepper to taste


Pour the cold stock into a large saucepan

Add the barley and give it a stir

Bring to the boil then let it gently boil away till it has reduced to about half the original liquid - this will take from 45 mins. to 1 hour

Meanwhile, fry the onions in the olive oil and butter till translucent

Add the mushrooms to the onions and sauté them till lightly cooked

Now tip the veg. into the barley soup and stir them in

Don't forget to add the sultanas

Throw in the thyme and chilli 

Season with pepper (salt probably won't be necessary)

Add a dash of cream (optional)

Notes:  I used some of the leftover stock I had from making the capon with oranges so it was a very tasty base for this soup

tipping the barley into the cold stock  

mushrooms chopped  

frying the onions 

caramelising the onions and sautéing the mushies 

Well actually, I had a bit of an accident with the mushies.  I was trying to research if the Georgians would have used butter or oil for frying and forgot to check them - and yes they were burning! So I thought what the heck, I'll just keep on sautéing:=)  Don't worry, I changed the frypan 'cos onion was stuck like a wad of chewing gum to the pan. 

in go the sultanas

add the herbs and seasoning at the end 

looks aren't everything! (including my manky nighttime snap)   

Not the best looking soup around, but it tasted great.  The original soup doesn't have chilli or mushrooms or thyme.  And oddly it says to just throw the shredded onion in at the end; no mention of cooking it at all.  It mentions a handful of raisins going in (I prefer sultanas); my handful was 30g. but if you had a big blokey hand, who knows?  And yes it ended up quite thick like a porridge.  Add more stock at the end if you wish.

Original recipe 

New and Easy Method of Cookery, Elizabeth Cleland, 1755 
Boil a hough of beef in eight pints of water, and a pound of barley, on a slow fire; let it boil to four pints; then put in onions, pepper, salt, and raisins if you like them, or you may put in greens and leeks.

my brown onion doodle

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Hot Chocolate Wine

Fancy a hot toddy made with port and really dark chocolate?  The Georgians certainly did, but usually for breakfast.  The Georges had their own chocolate kitchen at Hampton Court Palace, with their own chocolate maker.  The Royal chocolate maker for George I and II was Thomas Tosier, who basically did the fancy stuff while the navvies did the hard work of roasting and grinding the cacao beans into cakes of pure chocolate.  Has nothing changed?:=)  The head chef gets all the glory...

cacao pods (image Wikimedia Commons)

As part of our course, we were provided with this recipe for hot chocolate, which you can make with milk or water but for the King's breakfast, port was often the chosen liquid.  Lucky tipsy King!  This is actually a great drink for after dinner.  You could feed it to your guests (or naughty children) and knock 'em out.

Serves 4:


600mls of port 

130g. dark chocolate at least 80% cocoa solids - I used 85%

40g. caster sugar

15g. rice flour or use plain flour if that's what you have


Pour the port into a small saucepan

Break up the chocolate and slip them into the saucepan of port

Add the sugar and the flour

Whisk all well together

Place on low heat for 5-10 minutes till it heats and thickens slightly; keep whisking now and then while it heats

When there are small bubbles around the edges, take it off the heat - make sure you don't let it boil

Whisk again and serve in small cups

You can add a dash of cream if you like

ingredients - they suggest you use 100% cocoa solids 

adding the chocolate to the port

whisk in the sugar and rice flour

heating and whisking the hot chocolate 

ready to pour out that lovely hot choc port  

smooth, very warming and very alcoholic 

delicious and ready to drink   

Mr P. and I have done our best to drink it all up by ourselves.  He is out tonight so I guess I will have to drink the rest myself.  Poor me.

This recipe is from the Cook's Dictionary (1726) by John Nott.

my cacao pod doodle

Monday 18 July 2016

A - Z Guidebook: New Norcia Western Australia

The Monastery at New Norcia

New Norcia is Australia's only monastic town, founded in 1847, and a fabulous place to visit.  The buildings are beautiful, though the countryside around is very dry and sparse. The monks go quietly about their business, tending the gardens and olive grove, making olive oil (which you can buy when there has been a good harvest).

You can also buy New Norcia wine, Port, Shiraz and Liqueur Muscat here.  The grapes are grown in a local vineyard, and turned into wine in the Swan Valley near Perth.  They then mature it in the old wine cellars under the Monastery.  There is a bakery with 2 wood-fired ovens, both over 100 years old.  This is operated by a private company under an agreement with the Benedictine Community.  And happily you can buy bread, cakes, biscuits and pastries from them.

If you get to W.A., take a drive to New Norcia and check it out. You can even go on retreat here, or stay in the local hotel.  Well worth a look.

Feel free to join in with Tiffin Fiona in this monthly look at travel snaps.  We are onto the letter N!

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Thursday 14 July 2016


Jumbals, or jumbles are spicy, boiled and baked biscuits.  I have never made a biscuit like this before so I was feeling a bit trepidatious.  This recipe is from The Good Housewife's Jewel (1596), so obviously it has been a success for over 400 years.   Some of my fellow students said it was a disaster, and others claimed to like them so I guess I had a 50/50 chance.  Let's see how I went.



2 eggs

100g. caster sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp caraway seeds

1¾ - 2 cups of plain flour

rosewater to brush the ends

icing sugar to sprinkle over the top


Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat well with a whisk or fork

Add the sugar and beat well together

Throw in the spices and mix together

Now add the flour a bit at a time till you have a firm dough - (you may not need all the flour)

Pat it into a firm dough then flatten it out on a board or surface

Cut into 8 equal pieces, then cut each piece into 2 long strips and twist together to form a braid or make a crescent shape

Brush the ends with rosewater

Gently drop them into a pan of boiling water till they float to the top

Take them out with a spider (large slotted spoon-not the arachnid variety.  Oh go on, try if you must!)

Place them on a cloth to dry

Now lay them on a greased baking tray

Sprinkle with more rosewater and some icing sugar

Bake at 160C for about 20 minutes 

Take out of the oven and sprinkle with rosewater and icing sugar

Turn the oven up to 170C for about another 15-20 minutes till they are hard and golden brown

Take them out and sprinkle again with rosewater and icing sugar

If you remember to do it, turn them over several times during the baking process


Some of the students baked theirs for 2 hours.  Wow I was amazed. I guess they were like little rocks by that time.

The copious amounts of icing sugar were my idea, and the constant throwing over of the rosewater was also my idea - they just told you to brush it on the ends once

The recipe says to use aniseed but I didn't want a savoury biscuit so I used just a wee bit of caraway seeds with the cinnamon

whisking the eggs

whisking in the sugar and spices  

start adding the flour to the eggs  

Johnny stirring in the flour with his broken hand   

turning into a firm dough    

patted into a firm doughy ball    

flatten and cut into 8 pieces     

ready to be boiled then baked  

boiling the weird little jumbals  

and out of the oven all baked  

sprinkled with rosewater and icing sugar  

These turned out rather hard and chewy; but good for dunking.  I liked the rosewater and icing sugar.  Not sure I would go for the aniseed/caraway version.  

Original recipe
Thomas Dawson, Good Housewife’s Jewel (1596)
Take twenty eggs and put them in a pot, both the yolks and the white: beat them well. Then take a pound of beaten sugar and put to them, and stir them well together. Then put to it a quarter of a peck of flour and make a hard paste thereof; and then with aniseed mould it well and make it in little rolls, being long. Tie them in knots, and wet the ends with rosewater. Then put them in a pan of seething water, but even in one waum. Then take them out with a skimmer and lay them in a cloth to dry. This being done, lay them in a tart pan, the bottom being oiled. Then put them in a temperate oven for one house, turning them often in the oven.

okay so it's my wonky blue egg doodle - so?  

Apparently eggs were smaller in the late Tudor period; who knew? Smaller chooks perhaps?  So they suggest you halve the amount in any recipe before the 1930's. Crumbs, did chooks suddenly go on steroids then?

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Capon With Oranges

Okay not really capon, which is a castrated rooster of 3 to 6 kilos. These are definitely not easily found in my local grocer's.  But you can find large chickens.  Remember the old days when a 1.5 kg chook was considered pretty large?  Not anymore; this chook that I bought recently was 1.58kg, and was labelled as small.  

the small chook

An article I read on the Good Food page said the place to buy capon was in France. Well sure I'd love to but!  So I had to make do with my small chicken from Woolies. Once again this recipe is from my History of Royal Food course.  The original recipe can be found in the Good Housewife's Jewel (1596) by Thomas Dawson.

my youthful helper

I had a 14 year old helper with me, who was on school hols so had a bit of free time.  As these recipes are a tad scant on details, Johnny, hubby and I went over the recipe trying to work out what we had to do.  I think I just lucked into doing it right; well fairly right.

look at those sunny oranges 

Basically, you poach your chook in stock; make an orange and red wine sauce, and serve the chicken in the sauce.  The course notes say it is very simple, but when you are guessing how to do it...


1 large chicken - say from 1.8 to 2 kg

2 litres of good quality stock - I used chicken but the recipe says to use mutton and marrow bones, or lamb

300 mls of red or white wine - historically it would have been white

3 - 4 oranges, peeled and sliced thinly (the recipe suggests 6-8 for a large bird) - keep approx. 2 tbs of the peel for the sauce

6 tsp sugar (you may want to add more)

a handful each of thyme, parsley and rosemary shoved into a muslin spice bag

1 cinnamon stick

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1 - 2 cloves

1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs for the sauce (optional)


Place the bird into a large pan

Pour in the stock over the bird - don't worry if it doesn't cover it completely

Let it simmer for at least 45 minutes - make sure it is completely cooked through by sticking a thermometer into it to check it is at 60C, or by pulling a bit of flesh from the middle to check it is done

Put it aside while you make the sauce

Take several ladlesful (about 260mls) of the beautiful, aromatic stock and tip into a medium saucepan

Add the wine, the orange slices and peel, sugar, the herb bag and the spices 

Reduce the spicy wine mixture at a fast boil for 20+ minutes 

Remove the herb bag

If using the breadcrumbs to thicken the sauce, add them now

Pull the bird apart, and put the pieces into the sauce

Serve with spiced potatoes, or perhaps rice or cous cous


Turn the bird over once or twice during the poaching so that the whole bird gets well covered with stock.  I basted it now and then too for extra moistness

Don't go wild with the orange peel;  I added way too much at the start; it was bitter so I had to add more sugar.  So just add the 2 tablespoons and check if you want to add more

simmering the chicken in the stock 

peel and slice the oranges   

ladling out the stock ready to be reduced with the wine, oranges and spices  

herby bag goes into the pan of stock,wine and oranges  

sorry, a bit hacked due to checking for done-ness

stirring and reducing the sauce    

reducing the sauce  

the poached chicken going into the reduced sauce 

serve with spiced potatoes   

finally you get an orangey, spicy, winey chicken dish

This flavoursome dish would have been enjoyed by the wealthy Elizabethans.  Capons would not have been eaten by Ye Olde Local Peasants, and only the rich could afford oranges and spices. 

Here is the original recipe for your perusal:

Original recipe
Thomas Dawson, Good Housewife’s Jewel (1596)
Take your capon and set him on the fire as before with marrow
bones and mutton, and when you have skimmed the pot well, put
thereto the value of a farthing loaf, and let it boil till it be half boiled.  Then take two or three ladlesful of the same broth and put it into an earthen pot, with a pint of the same wine aforesaid. Peel six or eight oranges and slice them thin, and put them into the same broth with four pennyworth in sugar or more, and a handful of parsley, thyme and rosemary, together tied. Season it with whole mace, clove, and sticks of cinnamon, with two nutmegs beaten small. And so serve it.

You see what I mean?  A wee bit difficult to decipher.  But we had great fun making it and eating it.

my orange doodle