IN this branch much depends upon the proper degree of heat required to bake the various articles; and unless this is attended to it is vain to expect satisfaction from your work, however well made. Puff paste requires rather a brisk oven, but not to scorch the paste; if it is too hot it binds, and hinders its rising, and if too slow it becomes sodden and flat. Raised crusts require a quick oven; puffs of all kinds, being generally filled with preserved fruit, only require the paste to be baked. It is much better to make the cases and fill up the space with a piece of dough made of flour and water, which is taken out when the paste is baked. When you use them fill them with any kind of jam, stewed apples, &c.
Make a dough of flour and water, roll it out thin, cut ornaments according to fancy, with a knife, or cutter; lay them on paper and bake them in a very cool oven, to preserve their whiteness; lay them on the tops of the puffs, or tarts.
When preserved fruits, or jellies, are baked, they often spoil the appearance of the paste by boiling over the edge, and when fired in tin shapes are difficult to be got out whole. Paste cases are now generally preferred. As these ornamental tops keep a very long time, every family where pastry is used should have a quantity kept in a paper bag to preserve them from dust; they are a great addition to the look of puffs and tarts.
Metal Ovens are now generally used, and when properly built certainly answer in baking all small cakes, &c. equally with bakers’ ovens. The space below the under plate should be filled with sand, which makes the heat more equal and lasting. Observe to take down the lid, or door, as seldom as possible, because the heat, or top, is thereby lost, and the cakes, &c. spoiled; but if too hot, the lid must remain down a few minutes and the fire must be lessened. Small and large pies, when too slowly baked fall down, which spoils their appearance. Cheese cakes, queen cakes, spunge biscuits, and small diet loaves, require a quick oven to raise them; after they are fully risen the heat should be more moderate. Seed cakes, gingerbread, plumb cakes, and in short all the larger kinds of cakes, require a moderate heat, as they should be well soaked; to preserve their colour, the tops must be covered with sheets of paper. After they are well risen and firm, they should be turned round.
To know when any cake, &c. is baked, run a sprig of peeled dry birch, or long knife, down through the cake, and if, when pulled out, it remains dry, without any of the cake adhering, or clamminess upon it, it is ready; if otherwise, it must be put into the oven again.
To know when a metal oven is of a proper heat for pastry and other small things, throw a spittle upon the lid; if it hisses and dries quickly up it is a proper heat; but if it starts off, it is then too hot. Practice only can instruct as to the proper degree of heat. An oven may be built of stone, if you have room, which will bake all kinds of bread, &c. about six feet in diameter, and twenty inches high within; the mouth should be small, and to shut with an iron door made to fit very close, with an aperture in the middle to look through, which is covered with a loose piece of iron fastened with a nail to move round. It may be heated by a furnace at one of the sides, and tempered by dampers on the opposite side, or by a choffer, in the ordinary way. Only observe to put plenty of sand on the top, and to have the building all around and upon the top as thick as you can, by which means, when the oven is once thoroughly heated it is kept so at much less expence. There should be a bed of clay below the sand, on which the bottom of the oven rests, it prevents damp getting through; sand two or three feet thick should also be laid above the oven, over which is laid a pavement of stone. The wall may be carried up so as to admit a person stooping, about the height of four feet, and all well plastered. This will be found of great service in drying comfits, candies, orange peel, &c.
To make good puff paste requires the best salt butter, very hard and tough; that kind which crumbles down, seldom makes it well. In summer it should be laid amongst ice, if it can be got, for an hour before using it, or it may be put in a cask, or pail of water, in a cold place. When you buy a cask of butter, if it has been some months salted, it should be unpacked and washed well through salt and water, and after working it on a table until all the water is expressed, and the butter tough, pack it into the cask again, which should be well cleaned. If the butter is not salt enough a little may be wrought into it upon the table; in a few months it will be very hard, and fit for making paste, &c.
To have puff paste in perfection it should be made in a very cool place and rolled out upon a marble table; the heat of a workroom, or bakehouse, often spoils it.
Take of flour and butter equal weight, make the flour into a paste with cold water, not too stiff; or mix one third of the butter in making the paste. In the latter mode the paste must be made very lightly, not to break the butter too much; keep it free from the table by dusting with flour, roll it out thin, then cover it with the butter in small pieces; double it over six or eight times, roll it out thin a second time, double it up again in the same manner, and roll it thin; double it a third time and roll it out to the thickness wanted. If the paste sticks to the table, or the roller, it is a sign it will not be good; it should be very little handled. If you cannot manage to put all the butter in at once, it may be done at twice, and rolled out an additional time on that account.
With this paste all kinds of tarts are made, and small pies that are filled with preserved fruits; fruit and meat pies are also covered with it, then ornamented with the knife, and paste cut out with a runner, laid on according to fancy; they are brushed over with eggs before putting them into the oven. Those filled with preserved fruits, or stewed apples, should be immediately taken out when the paste is ready; the other should be carefully covered over with paper, and not glazed with eggs, as it causes them brown too much. This rich paste should be baked immediately, as it prevents the rising to lay it aside for any length of time. To make it flake finely add a very little fresh hogs lard, when rolling it out.
Puffs are cut out in various shapes, with tin cutters. Having cut out the paste for bottoms, what is left is rolled out much thinner for the tops, and cut out the same size as the bottoms. With a small soft hair brush, dipped in water, go round the bottoms within the edges, lay on preserved fruit, or stewed apples, seasoned; then put over the top it close all round to make it adhere to the bottom. If they are of a large size, ornament them with your paste knife, but do not cut the paste above half through; make a very small hole in the top for a vent. Beat up yolks of eggs and a little milk, or water, with which brush over the tops.
Is made thus. Roll out the puff paste to a proper thickness, and with a tin cutter cut them out in circles, or diamonds, of any size you want. The one half of them are bottoms, the other half are for laying above them; you cut out a piece in the centre of each top with a small cutter, of the same shape, leaving an edge of half an inch or more, in proportion to the size. With a brush dipped in water go round the bottoms, lay the tops on, glaze them with an egg, lay them on tins and fire them. When used, fill them with any preserved fruit, such as raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries, marmalades, jellies, &c.; and put above the fruit an ornamented top made of flour and water and dried in the oven, as directed in pastry, pp. 176-177.
They require a quick oven, but take care they are not scorched; they rise very high if the paste is properly made. The quicker pastry is made and finished the better, as much handling spoils it. Another kind of puffs are made by cutting the paste with a tea saucer, or tin cutter of that size. Lay on the fruit and double it over, first wetting the edges to make it join; pinch it neatly round and glaze it with an egg.
Tart cases are now much in use, as they are ready at all times. Roll out the paste thinner than the eighth part of an inch, and line the insides of your tart-pans; cut the paste off close by the edges round about, which may be done by the pressure of your thumb upon the edge of the tart-pan. Make little balls of the paste that is left, or of flour and water, which put into the middle of each; when they are baked, with the point of your knife take out the balls. For ornament to the tops, roll out a piece of paste, and with a paste runner cut it in very narrow strips, which make into various shapes, of fruits, gates, roses, &c. These cases, when used, are filled with preserved fruits, and the tops laid over.
To a pound of flour take eight ounces butter, pull the butter in small pieces, mix it with the flour, and with cold water, make it into a lump and roll it out; double and roll it out again. An egg well beaten may be mixed amongst it.
Take the above quantity and rub down the butter into the flour very fine; beat up an egg, and make a paste with water not too stiff; a spoonful or two of sugar may be added.
Make a paste of flour with butter and water, boiling equal proportions of each; make it a good stiffness and form it into cases; fill them with gooseberries, strewing raw sugar over them. Or, with cranberries, apples, or rhubarb stalks, cut down, when gooseberries are not in season. Keep a piece for covers, which roll out very thin; wet the edges of the tarts, lay on the cover, clip it round, and pinch them neatly. Make a few holes on the top with a fork, glaze them with an egg, or sugar and water.
A very rich Paste for all kinds of Sweetmeat Tarts, Cheesecakes, &c.
This paste rises very little. Work eight ounces of butter and six ounces pounded sugar with your hand in a bason, until very white and light; beat up four eggs very light, which add, with a little pounded cinnamon and the grate of a lemon; stir in flour to make it into a paste, but not very stiff, line your pans, &c.
Take a pound of flour and ten ounces butter, rub it down and take as little water as possible to make it stiff.
Take one pound flour and six ounces butter, break it in small pieces and mix it with the flour. Make the paste with cold water, roll it out twice, cover your dishes, then ornament them.
Take two pounds flour and one pound butter, boil the butter with a pint (mutchkin) of water, and make the flour into a very stiff paste; form it before it grows cold.
Boil three pounds butter with half a gallon (a pint) water, skim off the butter into the flour; make a paste with as little of the water as you can and work it well. It requires strength to make this crust, but if well done it will answer for the largest pies.
Take four pounds flour and four ounces butter, put it on the fire with a pint and a half (1½ mutchkin) of water, make it into a paste and add three or four eggs; work it well together until quite smooth. Roll it out to a proper thickness (from one half to a whole inch), cut out the bottom and top; then a long piece for the sides, of the proper depth. Brush round the bottom with whites of eggs, and set up the sides, keeping them rather within the edge of the bottom; pinch it neatly round to make them adhere together, then fill the pye and go round the upper sides of the crust and the outer edges of the cover, with a brush dipped in the eggs. Lay on the cover, pinch it neatly round, then ornament it with festoons and figures according to fancy.
After setting up the sides of the shape, line it well with paper and then fill it up with bran; keep it high in the middle to support the top. Cover it also with paper, then lay on the cover; do not wet the edges, but pinch it neatly round; afterwards ornament it, glaze it over with egg, and bake it a light brown. When cold, loosen the top with a knife, take out the bran and paper clean, and keep the pye for use, to be filled at any time. Or fill a tin shape and put it within the pye.
Take a pound of beef drippings, boil them in water, strain, and let it cool; take off the hard fat and scrape off any discoloured part, or drops, which may adhere to it. Do this three times, work it well into two pounds flour, and make the paste with cold water.
Boil half a pound of Carolina rice with a small quantity of water; drain all the water from it, beat it in a mortar with a small bit of butter and an egg, to a fine paste.
Make a stiff paste with flour and water, work it smooth, then roll it very thin, cut it to the size of the shape you wish it to cover; then, with a paste knife, or lance, and a small runner, and other tin shapes, cut it out in flowers, landscapes, animals, birds, &c. Lay it on the mould, or shape, carefully, and fire it in a very slow oven, to prevent its being discoloured. Or, the paste, after being rolled out, may be put on the mould, and cut out according to fancy. They are put over sweetmeats, jellies, &c. in deserts. A block of wood, resembling a dome, and turned smooth, makes a very beautiful appearance.
Is made with boiled potatoes, pounded while warm and butter added to render them tough, also the yolks of eggs. When well wrought, roll it out and cover the dish before it becomes cold.
Make a rich puff paste, pp. 179-180, according to the size of the dish you want; roll it out to ¼ of an inch thick, cut it out with a set of tin paste cutters, which are made of eight different sizes, to go into each other. Having cut out all the different sizes, take the smallest cutter and take a piece out of the centre of each, except the largest. The cutters are either round or oval, and scolloped in the edges. Lay them on papers and glaze them with an egg. After they are baked lay them above one another upon a dish; fill the cavity with any preserved fruit, on the top lay any ornament, or a sprig of myrtle; pour cream into the dish when served.
Is made in the same way; only, instead of tin cutters you cut a piece of paper the size of the inside of the plate; it looks best of an oval form. Cut out the bottom by laying the paper over the paste and cutting round; then, with a pair of scissars, cut a strip of an inch broad round the paper; lay it on the paste and cut round again. Take another strip from the paper and so proceed, making every one less than the other. After having cut them out, ornament the edges with the paste knife, by vandycking, or scolloping, the paste all round; then cut a round or oval piece out of the centre of each, except the largest, or bottom one, corresponding with the shape and in proportion to the size. Leave a broad border, because if too much is taken out of the middle it will require a great quantity of fruit to fill up the cavity. Bake them on sheets of tin, or paper, place the largest on the dish, and lay over it apples preserved, in slices, with a little of the syrup; put over it the next in size, and over it preserved rasps, and so proceed, putting layers of different kinds of preserves. On the top place a preserved orange filled with custard; fix a sprig of myrtle, or candied angelica, in it; decorate the edges of the plate with mixed preserves, &c.
For variety, after the cake is dressed out with the fruit, and the top put on, make an icing with sugar and eggs as directed in p. 149; divide it in three or four parts, colour each part, one with cochineal extract, another green with the juice of spinage, &c. Glaze the cake from top to bottom, in stripes of red, green, blue, yellow, &c.; then dry it before a fire, turning it equally; or set it in the oven if very cold. The paste may be cut out all of one size, and laid above each other; put a layer of preserves betwixt each, ornamenting the top one. Make four figures with paste in shape of an S, about four inches long; bake and glaze them with an icing; when dry, make also five small cakes, or puffs, to go betwixt every two of the figures, fill them with jelly, or marmalade. Boil up some syrup to carmil degree, into which dip the ends of the figures, placing them upright, or cross ways, on the top, so that the end of each may touch the top of the other; place a cake betwixt each; after being glazed put one of them on the top of the whole. Make a chain of paste, and with the carmil sugar fix it round the top; if done with taste it is a fine ornament.