(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘baking

“Baking is therapy”*…

 

Royal Baking Powder Exhibit at the International Exhibition in Philadelphia, 1876. Note the “Absolutely Pure” tagline.

How much thought have you, over the course of your entire life, given to the subject of baking powder? Personally I can say perhaps 30 minutes—that is, until I noticed the existence of food historian Linda Civitello’s Baking Powder Wars: The Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking. Sorry; come again?

This humble kitchen staple, not infrequently confused with baking soda and practically invisible, is apparently responsible for the fact you don’t have to spend all damn day making bread. Civitello argues that the invention of baking powder was a game-changer, a wildly labor-saving creation that frequently eliminated the necessity of maintaining your own little cache of yeast and made it possible to create all sorts of delicious goodies, from fluffy modern biscuits to birthday cake. Before baking powder, “You’re talking upwards of 12 hours of rising, usually more like 24 hours,” Jessica Carbone, a scholar in the National Museum of American History’s Food History Project, told Smithsonian magazine. Women spent the 19th century learning to use the stuff; cookbooks frequently offered recipes with and without.

But the market was also fiercely contested. Different companies had slightly different variations on a substance that did basically the same thing, leaving them to compete via other means. And they certainly did. Royal Baking Powder, which used cream of tartar, took the tagline “Absolutely Pure,” meant as an indictment of powders made with alum. The company played on consumer fears of adulterated food, Baking Powder Wars recounts, even lobbying to have alum varieties banned. And believe it or not, in Missouri, they succeeded—via bribery in the state Senate, according to the book. When the era’s muckrakers found out, it erupted into an enormous scandal…

The fascinating– and vicious– history of a kitchen staple: “Who Knew? The History of Baking Powder Is Incredibly Dramatic.”

* Paul Hollywood

###

As we pop it into the oven, we might send finely-sifted birthday greetings to Oliver Evans; he was born on this date in 1755.  An inventor, engineer and businessman, he was one of the most prolific and influential inventors in the early years of the United States– a pioneer in the fields of automation, materials handling and steam power (for the lattermost of which, he is often referred to as “the American Watt”).

But before he turned to steam, Evans designed the first automatic flour mill.  He replaced labor-intensive grist mills with a mechanism in which grain moved automatically through a series of five machines to deliver flour packed in barrels at the end.

 source

 

Written by LW

September 13, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.”*…

 

“The Kitchen,” 1874, from Prang’s Aids for Object Teaching–Trades and Occupations, a collection of twelve chromolithographic plates issued by L. Prang & Company, Boston

The prolific and flamboyant journalist George Augustus Sala, one of several young British writers who found fame as acolytes of Charles Dickens, rose to become a regular contributor to Dickens’s weekly magazine, Household Words, and, eventually, one of The Daily Telegraph’s most well-known correspondents…  Sala visited the United States twice, first during the Civil War in 1863 and again in 1879. His initial visit was chronicled in the two-volume work, My Diary in America in the Midst of War, and the second trip, a lecture tour, inspired the better-known America Revisited…  In a chapter describing a train trip to Baltimore, he inserted {a] brief digression mocking what was (according to Sala) the uniquely American passion for pie, beginning: “Almost everything that I behold in this wonderful country bears traces of improvement and reform—everything except Pie…”

Dig in at “The Tyranny of Pie.”

* Yogi Berra

###

As we agree with David Mamet that “stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie,” we might send beautifully-baked birthday greetings to Cornelius Hoagland; he was born on this date in 1828.  He co-founded (with his brother Joseph Christoffel Hoagland) the Royal Baking Powder Company. With four other companies including the Fleischmann’s Yeast Company, Royal merged to form Standard Brands, the number-two brand of packaged foods in America after General Foods.

 source

With best wishes to U.S. readers for the Thanksgiving holiday, (R)D is taking the long weekend off.  See you again next week.

Written by LW

November 23, 2016 at 1:01 am

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe…”*

 

Well, maybe not.  This handy reference– a pie for each month, accompanied by recipes for each, aims to simplify:

Each recipe highlights an in-season ingredient – no fancy extras needed – and is paired with one of four crust options, depending on the filling…

Check ’em out at “The Modern Farmer Pie Chart of Pies.”

* Carl Sagan

###

As we pre-heat, we might recall that it was in 1789 that President George Washington issued a proclamation naming this date as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks”– on which the United States celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution.

 source

 

Written by LW

November 26, 2013 at 1:01 am

The Baker of Amherst…

 

Emily Dickinson is, of course, renown for her verse; but acclaim for her poetry was largely posthumous.  In her lifetime, she was probably better known as the quiet-but-kindly lady who would lower baked treats from her kitchen window to Amherst children.  Her Rye and Indian round bread won second prize at the 1856 Amherst Cattle Show (though in the spirit of full disclosure, it should be noted that Emily’s sister Lavinia was one of the judges). And when the Dickinson family’s housekeeper quit, Emily took it upon herself to bake the family’s daily bread– a responsibility she retained even after a replacement was hired, in deference to her father’s preference for her bread over all others.

Even as her dough rose in the kitchen, so did her inspiration, which often struck as she baked.  So she would draft poems on wrappers and other kitchen papers; her poem, “The Things that can never come back, are several,”

The Things that never can come back, are several—
Childhood—some forms of Hope—the Dead—
Though Joys—like Men—may sometimes make a Journey—
And still abide…

…was first composed on the back of a friend’s recipe for Coconut Cake.

For more on Emily Dickinson’s kitchen connection, see “A Poet in the Kitchen” at History Kitchen.  And for Emily’s own recipe for Coconut Cake (or, as she called it, “Cocoanut Cake) click here.

God gave a Loaf to every Bird —
But just a Crumb — to Me —
I dare not eat it — tho’ I starve —
My poignant luxury —

To own it — touch it —
Prove the feat — that made the Pellet mine —
Too happy — for my Sparrow’s chance —
For Ampler Coveting —

It might be Famine — all around —
I could not miss an Ear —
Such Plenty smiles upon my Board —
My Garner shows so fair —

I wonder how the Rich — may feel —
An Indiaman — An Earl —
I deem that I — with but a Crumb —
Am Sovereign of them all —

###

As we reach for the oven mitts, we might recall that it was on this date in 1306 that Robert I (aka Robert the Bruce) was crowned King of Scotland… at Scone.

Robert and his (first) wife, Isabella of Mar

source

 

Written by LW

March 25, 2013 at 1:01 am

%d bloggers like this: