‘”Come along in, and have some tea!” he managed to say after taking a deep breath.
“A little beer would suit me better, if it is all the same to you, my good sir,” said Balin with the white beard. “But I don’t mind some cake — seed cake, if you have any.”
“Lots!” Bilbo found himself answering, to his own surprise; and he found himself scuttling off, too, to the cellar to fill a pint beer-mug, and to the pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.’ – from The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1937.
In the 18th century, naming foods after celebrities and political figures was still relatively rare. The practice became much more common in the 19th century, particularly with the myriad of foods named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This recipe from Susanna Maciver stood out to me as an unusual example of an 18th century recipe named after a politician: Sir Robert Walpole.
“Creams” were a popular 18th century dessert, similar to a custard or flummery. Nearly every 18th century cookbook I’ve seen contains at least a few recipes for different flavors of cream. This pistachio-flavored version comes from the cookbook of John Farley, who was the head cook at the London Tavern, a popular tavern and meeting place during the 18th and 19th centuries.
These 18th century heart cakes are a variation on queen cakes, which were also often baked in heart-shaped tins. This recipe, from Charlotte Mason’s 1777 book The Lady’s Assistant, spruces up a basic queen cake recipe with the addition of candied orange peel and citron. You could certainly bake them in regular muffin tins, too – but as hearts, they are perfect for Valentine’s Day!
I still remember my first-ever mincemeat pie, served on Christmas Day at the Charles Dickens Museum in London. It tasted warm and Christmas-y, the perfect treat after a cold trek across the city in the snow. Since then, my mind has associated mincemeat pies with a Dickensian, Victorian Christmas – but mincemeat pies actually go back much farther than that.
Compared to other 18th century soups, which almost always seem to include some obscure meats or animal parts and take hours to make, this is a relatively easy and inexpensive recipe from Elizabeth Raffald’s 1769 book The Experienced English Housekeeper.
This recipe comes from Patrick Lamb’s 1710 cookbook, Royal Cookery, or the Complete Court-Cook. Patrick Lamb served as the master-cook to a succession of British monarchs, starting with King Charles II in 1683 and ending with Queen Anne in 1708. In addition to recipes, his book provides table layouts for some of the elaborate feasts he served at court – including coronation feasts, which he would have needed to prepare three times over the course of his career for three different monarchs.
This recipe, one of the first published recipes for pumpkin pie, comes from Amelia Simmons’ 1796 cookbook American Cookery, the first cookbook written by an American to be published in the United States.