In this episode, I’m taking a step into
the future. Well, not really so much the future. Normally we focus on the 18th century. In
this episode, we’re going to be doing an early 19th century recipe. The recipe I’m
making today is from John Cook’s 1824 cookbook, Cooking and Confectionary. This is what’s
called a light gingerbread. I’ll explain in a minute exactly why this is so special.
Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking with James Townsend and Son. Today’s episode is the final companion piece
to our exploring the 18th Century discussion where we talk about chemical leavening. So
while this recipe that we’re doing today is actually a fairly simple, common sort of
gingerbread, one of the interesting things is, it uses alum as one of the leavening agents,
so in our “Exploring the 18th Century Chemical Leavening” series, we talked about bread
adulterants in the mid-18th century and how there was great alarm at the bakers using
alum in their bread and yet here we have an early 19th century recipe that’s using alum
as a leavening agent. The original recipe is rather large, so I’ve
downsized this considerably. We’re going to start with 2 cups of flour. To this, I’ll
stir in 2 teaspoons of powdered ginger. Next, I’ll add 1 cup of light or Barbados molasses.
Warming this first will make it easier to mix into the flour. Now for our wet ingredients, I’ll take a
few tablespoons of milk divided evenly. In half of this milk, I’ll dissolve ¾ of a
teaspoon of pearl ash. In the other half, I’ll dissolve 1 teaspoon of alum. Pearl
ash can be very difficult to find, so James Townsend and Son now carries food grade pearl
ash in 2 ounce bottles. You can substitute it with baking soda, but baking soda was a
mid-19th century invention. Alum can be found in the spice section in your local grocer.
If you would prefer not to use alum, you can use a couple tablespoons of vinegar instead.
Now I’ll stir this in very well. The result is a very sticky batter. I’m going to bake this in a tart tin that
has been well buttered. If you’re baking this at home, you’ll want to preheat your
oven and bake this at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. We’ve got to give this a try. Mmm. Very wonderful, very fluffy. It’s got
a great gingerbread taste with the mix between the ginger and the molasses. This is an excellent,
very interesting, almost like a ginger cake. Very moist though. This is really something
special. If you haven’t watched our “Exploring
the 18th Century” Series on chemical leavening, I really invite you to do so. It really helps
tease out and get to the roots of chemical leavening all throughout the 18th and 19th
century. If you’re new to our YouTube channel, I
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Thank you so much for watching.