At Bartholomew and Edwina Smythe’s dinner party, Henry advised Melissa that she needn’t eat everything listed on the menu. It was, he said, more of a planning guide for the appetite. With relief, Melissa offered Henry her portions of mashed turnips and boiled calves head. We find it hard to believe Melissa had any appetite once Kellen Wechsler began talking.
Adapted from Miss Beecher’s domestic receiptbook: designed as a supplement to her Treatise on domestic economy.
Hartford Election Cake
This recipe was 100 years old at the time of publishing (1846).
5 pounds dried and sifted flour
2 pounds butter
2 pounds sugar
3 gills of distillery yeast or twice the quantity of home-brewed
1 gill of wine
1 gill of brandy
½ ounce nutmeg
2 pounds fruit
1 quart of milk
1 pound citron (optional)
Rub the butter very fine into the flour, add half the sugar, then the yeast, then half the milk, hot in winter, and blood warm in summer, then the eggs well-beaten, the wine, and the remainder of the milk. Beat it well, and let it stand to rise all night. Beat it well in the morning, adding the brandy, the sugar, and the spice. Let it rise 3 or 4 hours, until very light. When you put the wood into the oven, put the cake in buttered pans, and put in the fruits (see note). If you wish it richer, add 1 pound of citron.
Note: The best way to put in fruit is to sprinkle flour over it, the put in a layer of cake at the bottom, half an inch thick, then a layer of fruit, taking care that it does not touch the sides of the pan, and thus dry up; then a little more cake, then another layer of fruit, and thus until the cake is 3 inches thick (not more), and let the top layer be cake.