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Welcome to Tenacious Genealogy! Today, I have a historical recipe that is pretty fun and relatively easy to try. Jenny Lind Tea Cakes. I love it because of the context behind the name. Very few people today know who Jenny Lind is and how awesome she was. (Click here for my blog post on her.)
Anyway, this is a pretty basic (and old) tea cake recipe from the early 1800s, published in an old cookbook over a hundred years ago.
2 Teaspoonfuls of Cream of Tartar
To be eaten hot with butter.
My translation of the recipe:
1 1/2 cups Milk (Whole)
To be eaten hot with butter (and/or jam).
As you can see, the original recipe is a bit basic and incomplete compared to those in cookbooks of today. This is because the main audience of the cookbook (middle-class women or the kitchen help for upper-class families) would have had prior knowledge of certain things such as how much salt or milk to put in a cake recipe, how hot a ‘moderate’ oven was, or how long to cook a cake in the oven. (Freakin’ wizards, I tell you…)
Most people (myself included) don’t have that kind of knowledge memorized nowadays-which is why recreating these recipes is always a bit of an adventure.
It tasted good (my husband actually wanted his own plate, which says something), but wasn’t the prettiest.
It also still had a random doughy bubble after 40 minutes of cooking at 365 degrees and as you can see, busted out on top.
As you can see, my second attempt at this recipe was much more successful. Not only was there no weird uncooked/doughy lump in the middle of any of the muffins, but they were more aesthetically pleasing. They also cut nicely and were delicious with some butter and jam. (My husband tried another one and gave his approval.)
- Milk – use 1 1/2 cups whole milk – the original recipe says to use milk in the recipe, but doesn’t say how much. I found that 1 1/2 cups added into the dough at 1/2 cup intervals made for the right texture.
- Muffin tins instead of a bread pan – This helped the dough bake more evenly and made the dish less messy. While the dough still did technically ‘split’, it wasn’t as much as in my initial attempt.
- 15 minutes versus 40 minutes – With making these in a muffin pan instead of a bread pan, I was able to shorten the cooking time and drop the temperature to 350 degrees.
Overall, I think that the original recipe may have worked back during the 19th century when some of the missing information was probably just assumed to be known. But with all our ‘newfangled’ contraptions/ideas like electric ovens, standardized measurements, and needing to know all of the ingredients beforehand, this recipe definitely needed to be enhanced to be successfully made in the 21st century.
Questions? Comments? Pictures of tea cakes you’ve made or ideas for recipes I should try? Let me know down in the comments! And if you like what you’ve been seeing here on Tenacious Genealogy – please subscribe to our email list. Not only will you stay up to date with the latest blog posts, but you’ll also get access to freebies such as ’10 Tips for Starting Your Genealogy’ and other fun ‘subscriber only’ items!