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Digby-Cakes-msg – 3/7/08

 

Comments and suggestions on making cakes using Sir Digby’s 'Excellent Small Cakes' recipe.

 

NOTE: See also the files: Digby-Cakes-art, Sugar-Icing-art, sugar-icing-msg, pastries-msg, cookies-msg, 14C-Sweets-art, 3-Span-Sweets-art, ovens-msg.

 

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NOTICE -

 

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

 

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

 

I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.

 

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.

 

Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

 

Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

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-----

Tirloch of Tallaght gives the original recipe which we are talking about in this file, in his Digby-Cakes-art Florilegium article:

 

On page 185 of The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Opened, (edited by Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson, Prospect Books:Wiltshire:1997), we find the recipe for these excellent small cakes:

 

Take three pound of very fine flower well dryed by the fire, and put to it a pound and a half of loaf Sugar sifted in a very fine sieve and dryed; Three pounds of Currants well washed, and dryed in a cloth and set by the fire; When your flower is well mixed with the Sugar and Currants, you must put in it a pound and a half of unmelted butter, ten spoonfuls of Cream, with the yolks of three new-laid Eggs beat with it, one Nutmeg; and if you please, three spoonfuls of Sack. When you have wrought your paste well, you must put it in a cloth, and set it in a dish before the fire, till it be through warm. Then make them up in little cakes, and prick them full of holes; you must bake them in a quick oven unclosed. Afterwards Ice them over with Sugar. The Cakes should be about the bigness of a hand breadth and thin; of the cise of the Sugar Cakes sold at Barnet.

-----

 

Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 18:59:08 -0400

From: AEllin Olafs dotter <aellin at earthink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Digby's Small Cakes

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius wrote:

> I also believe Master Tirloch has posited a Tablespoon for a "spoonful"

> of things like cream. People like Hillary Spurling posit a much larger

> measure for the Elizabethan and Jacobean spoonful. That might account

> for it, also.

>

> Adamantius

 

Ah. Any idea how much it might be?

 

Master Tiroch's article is in the Florifiles, so that was the first I

was looking at. And he quotes Master Cariadoc's (who is the one positing

Spoonful = 1T.) I'm wondering about a few things, though.

 

First, where I started. They and everyone else ignore the warming of the

dough. Why? Digby makes rather a point of it.

 

They both use a 350 oven. I always thought of 300-350 as moderate, and

375-425 as "quick" which is what the recipe calls for. At least, that's

how my grandmother did her conversions, when she got a modern gas

range... (She'd have been 122 today... she learned to bake with coal.

And I have her cookbooks.)

 

Tirloch reads

> The Cakes should be about the bigness of a hand breadth and thin; of

> the cise of the Sugar Cakes sold at Barnet.

 

as

> "handsbreath thickness"

 

while I read it as the width of a hand, but thinner. (And presumably

lumpy with currants... *G*)

 

Speaking of currants, I'm wondering how the butter is going in after the

currants... I'll see. Not melted, that's specified, but you've already warmed the flour and sugar to dry it (I am skipping that step, figuring

airtight canisters keep it dry enough, and it is hot here today... not

cold, so everything is warm to begin with) so I don't think it's going

to cut in well as if one was making pastry, as Cariadoc suggests. I'd

cream it, but there are these currants...

 

I am indebted to Tirloch for the idea that 1 nutmeg would give 2 T of

grated spice. I had no idea, and that sounds plausible... I have one of

those neat jars with a built in grater, so it will be fresh ground, but

I can't tell how much is one nutmeg.

 

I think I'm going to get rather different results. I don't know yet if

they'll be *good* results... but different...

 

AEllin

 

 

Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 20:54:03 -0400

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius"

        <adamantius.magister at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Digby's Small Cakes

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Also sprach AEllin Olafs dotter:

> Ah. Any idea how much it might be?

 

I can't find the Spurling edition of Fettiplace, but that's where it

would be. Can anybody else find it? I vaguely recall it was about

three fluid ounces, but I can't say with any degree of certainty

until I find the book.

 

> Master Tirloch's article is in the Florifiles, so that was the first

> I was looking at. And he quotes Master Caiadoc's (who is the one

> positing Spoonful = 1T.) I'm wondering about a few things, though.

>

> First, where I started. They and everyone else ignore the warming of

> the dough. Why? Digby makes rather a point of it.

 

I can't answer that, except to say it seems likely the dough would

presumably be heavier and a little greasy, rather than simply creamy

and short, if it's warmed enough for the butter to melt.

 

> They both use a 350 oven. I always thought of 300-350 as moderate,

> and 375-425 as "quick" which is what the recipe calls for.

 

I agree. It may simply be that 350 is a good, generic baking

temperature, not inclined to cause cakes to burn, nor to leave them

raw. On the other hand, cookies are sometimes baked at a higher

temperature, and faster, than the cakes. I'd also use 400 - 425 F.,

especially since Digby seems to be making a crispy version of the

standard "iced spice cookie".

 

>  At least, that's how my grandmother did her conversions, when she

> got a modern gas range... (She'd have been 122 today... she learned

> to bake with coal. And I have her cookbooks.)

>

> Tirloch reads

>> The Cakes should be about the bigness of a hand breadth and thin;

>> of the cise of the Sugar Cakes sold at Barnet.

>

> as

>> "handsbreath thickness"

>

> while I read t as the width of a hand, but thinner. (And presumably

> lumpy with currants... *G*)

 

Approximately 4" rounds, maybe 1/4" thick. If rolled out, maybe the

currants would be somewhat flattened.

 

> Speaking of currants, I'm wondering how the butter is going n after

> the currants... I'll see. Not melted, that's specified, but you've

> already warmed the flour and sugar to dry it (I am skipping that

> step, figuring airtight canisters keep it dry enough, and it is hot

> here today... not cold, so everything i warm to begin with) so I

> don't think it's going to cut in well as if one was making pastry,

> as Cariadoc suggests. I'd cream it, but there are these currants...

 

Work it in with your hands. If you feel a lump, squish it a little,

and if you determine it is a currant go on to the next lump. If not,

obliterate it. Continue until you achieve a two-phase, heterogeneous

mass of smooth dough variegated with currants.

 

> I am indebted to Tirloch for the idea that 1 nutmeg would give 2 T

> of grated spice. I had no idea, and that sounds plausible... I have

> one of those neat jars with a built in grater, so it will be fresh

> ground, but I can't tell how much is one nutmeg.

 

Um. Am I being over-simplistic, if I recommended emptying your

grinder, putting in a whole nutmeg, and grinding it until it's all

gone? Unless, of course, you're cutting down the recipe by a third,

in which case you can grind onto a piece of foil or paper, then use a

knife to "cut off" the appropriate amount. It was all the rage in the

80's..

 

> I think I'm going to get rather different results. I don't know yet

> if they'll be *good* results... but different...

 

Well, Digby probably thought they were good.

 

Adamantius

 

 

Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 22:13:32 -0400

From: Elaine Koogler <ekoogler1 at comcast.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Digby's Small Cakes

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius wrote:

>> Tirloch reads

>>> The Cakes should be about the bigness of a hand breadth and thin; of

>>> the cise of the Sugar Cakes sold at Barnet.

>>

>> as

>>

>> "handsbreath thickness"

>>

>> while I read it as the width of a hand, but thinner. (And presumably

>> lumpy with currants... *G*)

>

> Approximately 4" rounds, maybe 1/4" thick. If rolled out, maybe the

> currants would be somewhat flattened.

 

I have eaten many of Master Tirloch's cakes, and they are about the 1/4"

thick that you recommend, Master A.

 

<more snippage>

 

>> I think I'm going to get rather different results. I don't know yet

>> if they'll be *good* results... but different...

>

> Well, Digy probably thought they were good.

 

My suggestion is that, if you have questions, contact Tirloch directly.

I know him quite well and believe he would not only be delighted that

you're using his recipe, but to answer any questions you might

have...tirlochravenstreet.org.

 

Kiri

 

 

Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 02:57:14 +0000

From: "D Wolff <scadian at hotmail.com>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Digby's Small Cakes

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

 

>  Has anyone tried it, period?

> Does it get soggy, or does this make it possible to make the cakes

> thin, as directed? Or both?

>

> It's in the high 80s, here, I'm not going to need any fire to warm my

> paste... which makes this rather attractive for summer baking... *G*

>

> AEllin

 

I have. I prefer to work with the dough while warm. It rolls out better,

and you can make them thinner. (I roll each out individually by hand... a lot

of work, but nicer effect) It also actually "puffs" out a bit in the oven

afterward when done this way.

 

Andrea

 

 

Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 23:36:42 -040

From: AEllin Olafs dotter <aellin at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Digby's Small Cakes

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

O, so, anyhow... this is what I did...

 

> Take three pound of very fine flower well dryed by the fire, and put

> to it a pound and a half of loaf Sugar sifted in a very fine sieve and

> dryed; Three pounds of Currants well washed, and dryed in a cloth an

> set by the fire; When your flower is well mixed with the Sugar and

> Currants, you must put in it a pound and a half of unmelted butter,

> ten spoonfuls of Cream, with the yolks of three new-laid Eggs beat

> with it, one Nutmeg; and if you please, three spoonfuls of Sack. When

> you have wrought your paste well, you must put it in a cloth, and set

> it in a dish before the fire, till it be through warm. Then make them

> up in little cakes, and prick them full of holes; you must bake them

> in a uick oven unclosed. Afterwards Ice them over with Sugar. The

> Cakes should be about the bigness of a hand breadth and thin; of the

> cise of the Sugar Cakes sold at Barnet

>

> My version

>

> 3 c White all purpose flour

> 1 c  Sugar

> 1 lb. Currants

> 1/2 lb. Sweet butter

> 3 – 4 T cream (adjust as seems needed.)

> 2 t nutmeg, fresh ground

> (1 T sherry, opt.)

> Sugar for icing.

>

> Mix flour and sugar. (And nutmeg??) Mix in currants, so they are well

> floured and separated. Blend in butter. Beat the egg yolk and cream

> (and sherry, if used) together, blend it in well. Let sit in a warm

> place until warm through.

>

> Drop by tablespoonful on baking sheet. Pat down into thin cakes,

> under 1/4”. Prick all over with fork.

>

> Bake at 400 for 12 minutes.

 

Comments.

 

I haven't iced them yet, I'll do that tomorrow.

 

Wow, that's a lot of currants!

 

I thought I had sherry, turned out not to. Decided I didn't "please" to

have it enough to go out in the thunderstorm we were having, since Digby

says it is optional. Next time, I think I'll use it.

 

I happily thought I would weigh the flour and sugar - and then couldn't

find my scale. I did find several different "equivalent" measurements...

not sure how accurate this was.  Next time, I hope to find the scale. I

did add the nutmeg with the dry ingredients, though Digby lists it

later.

 

I sort of creamed the butter in. Got a nice homogenous mass. Added 4T

cream, since I wasn't using the sherry, and that was enough. Let it sit

while I was preheating the oven -the kitchen was pretty hot even before

I lit it (I don't have a/c.)  More liquid would have been too much, I

think.

 

At 10 minutes, they were starting to brown around the edges, but the

middles were raw. At 12 minutes, they were lightly brown all over.

 

I couldn't tell that they were pricked, so I tried not doing it to one

sheet, and couldn't tell the difference. I also tried just dropping a

couple, without flattening, but they didn't come out as well. Not

blazingly obvious, but they didn't quite flatten, and the middles didn't

quite cook as well. The dough was too soft to roll. I didn't think of

it, but these would be a good candidate for the Flatten with the Bottom

of a floured Glass method.

 

I like them. They turned out crisp and buttery, with lots of currants.

They aren't greasy and heavy, which seemed the danger with warming it. I

have put them in a ziploc [bag], because they were already picking up the

humidity after an hour (It's 96% right now) but tender and crisp when

they first cooled. I wasn't consciously aware of the nutmeg, but it

wasn't bland. Might add a bit more, might not want to with sherry. We'll

see how they go over with other people!

 

So, thanks for listening to me work through it, and making

suggestions... It's the first thing I'm redacting and then serving to

innocent bystand... I mean... people at an event. (Or could you tell...

*G*)

 

Aellin

 

 

Date: Mon, 21 Jun 2004 23:03:42 -0400

From: AEllin Olafs dotter <aellin at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Digby's Small Cakes

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

People seemed to like them... commented favorably on number of currants

and texture. Looking back on it, I think that's what the warming did -

brought the dough together enough to support the huge amount of

currants. (Remember, this is a pound. A box is only 12 oz.)  When I

first mixed them into the flour-sugar mixture, my

reaction was that this would never hold together, too much fruit - but,

lo and behold, it did.

 

Oh, I did make my first two baking sheets a handsbreadth in size, but

made the rest smaller, because of the nature of the event. (These were

for munchies during breaks from dancing.) Both seemed to work equally

well. I patted them all down thin. And, as I said, I didn't notice the

pricking doing very much...

 

I did try the sprinkle sugar and put them back in the oven method of

icing. It kind of worked... if I do that again, I'll do it while baking

- whisk them out just before they are done, sugar, and then finish. This

didn't quite melt the sugar (though a fair it stuck) and over browned

them... not quite burnt, but closer than I'd have quite liked.

 

I would also be very interested in what Cariadoc has to say. I kept

asking questions because I kept expecting someone to point out the

obvious reason  I was missing as to why it wouldn't work... I still have

that nagging feeling. However, they did indeed work, and were good (OK,

I won't claim excellence, I'll leave that to Digby *G*.)

 

Thank you to everyone who commented, and especially to Adamantius, who

answered my questions and encouraged my lunacy.

 

Next time - yes, there will be one...

I'll find the scale and we'll see if that changes

measurements/proportions/results.

I'll use the sherry.

I'll ice them differently.

 

AEllin

 

 

Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 19:15:42 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Digby Cakes with Splenda

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>,

        "mk-cooks at midrealm.org" <mk-cooks at midrealm.org>

 

Here's an interesting article with recipe--

Digby Cakes with Splenda created by Master Tirloch of Tallaght

http://oak.atlantia.sca.org/21/digbysplenda.htm

 

Johnnae

 

 

Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 19:42:27 -0400

From: "Elaine Koogler" <kiridono at gmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Digby Cakes with Splenda

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

Yes, our very own Master Tirloch came up with this...and they're

wonderful!!!

 

Kiri

 

On 4/30/07, Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu> wrote:

> Here's an interesting article with recipe--

> Digby Cakes with Splenda created by Master Tirloch of Tallaght

> http://oak.atlantia.sca.org/21/digbysplenda.htm

>

> Johnnae

 

<the end>



Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org