Archive for the 'cake' Category

The History Dish: Washington’s Birthday

washingtoncakeWashington Cake: Dense, moist, and chock full of raisins.

Today we have a guest post from my intern, J.C. Paradiso! She’s a trained chef with her masters in Food Studies from NYU, and this “semester”, we’re working towards launching her own blog under the handle The Savage and the Sage. Look for it soon!

Presidents’ Day has never really resonated for me. If you are like me, a holiday just isn’t a holiday unless there is some kind of food involved. No food memories, no holiday.

I did some digging and realized that there is no holiday called Presidents’ Day. The holiday we celebrate is officially called Washington’s Birthday. 

At the time of his death in 1799, George Washington was largely considered the most important figure in American History. He was eulogized by Congressman and Revolutionary War General, Henry Lee, with the beautiful sentiment: “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen…”  Washington was a towering figure in the relatively newly minted American psyche; he was Pater Patriae, the Father of our Country. In the wake of his death, his birthday became an important celebration, including speechifying, fireworks, and “…taverns across the country filled with revelers celebrating the birth of the nation’s hero…” (source)

Washington’s birthday became an official holiday in 1879. In 1968 Congress passed the Monday Holiday Law to “provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays.” The official celebration was moved to the third Monday in February, nestled between Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays. By creating more 3-day weekends, Congress hoped to “bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the nation.”

While there may not be food associated with Presidents’ Day today, historically there are food traditions associated with celebrating George Washington.  Perhaps the most well known story about George Washington is that of Washington chopping down the cherry tree, which is now regarded as having been fabricated by his biographer, Parson Weems. That being said, according to The Presidents’ Cookbook: Practical Recipes from George Washington to the Present, George Washington apparently loved cherries, and all things cherry continue to have an association with Washington, like marzipan cherries and a chopped-cherry Washington salad.

By the early 19th century, there are recipes in cookbooks and memoirs of various versions of “Washington Cake.”  The origin of this patriotic baked good may have been an American imitation of a British practice to celebrate a nobleman’s birthday with a special cake.  According to The Market Book by Thomas F. De Voe, in the early 1800s, a woman named Mary Simpson, who claimed to have been a former slave of Washington’s, took in laundry “for several bachelor gentlemen” in a basement storefront on the corner of Cliff and John Streets in Manhattan. She would also sell homemade baked goods, eggs and dairy.  According to De Voe, “She never forgot her old master’s birthday…and she kept it most faithfully by preparing a very large cake which she called “Washington Cake,” (once a favorite of Washington,) a large quantity of punch, then a fashionable drink, and hot coffee…” She arranged these treats under a portrait of her old master, and was called upon by prominent members of the community who would “..praise her old master’s portrait and his many noble and heroic deeds…She said she ‘was fearful that if she did not keep up the day by her display, Washington would be soon forgotten.” (ED Note: JC and I both agreed this story dealt with some uncomfortable, yet fascinating, stuff. It’s an interesting perspective on slavery, written by a man living in a free state in the midst of the Civil War. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.)

So, what exactly is Washington Cake? While there are a few variations, the first published recipe for Washington Cake that I could find appeared in 1831 in The Cook Not Mad or Rational Cookery, A Frontier Cookbook. It called for “One pound of sugar, one of flour, half pound butter, four eggs, one pound raisins, one of currants, one gill of brandy, tea cup of cream, spice to your taste.” As was typical of the time, it contained no chemical leavening.

And you know what? The Cook Not Mad recipe for Washington Cake is pretty delicious–how could it not be with all that fat and all that sugar? The one caveat is that you really do have to like raisins, because this cake is FULL of them. 

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Washington Cake
Adapted from The Cook Not Mad, 1831.

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour, sifted
2 sticks butter, plus 1 TBSP for greasing
4 eggs
3 cups raisins (or 1 1/2 cup raisins and 1 1/2 cups currants)
¼ cup brandy
½  cup cream
¼ tsp each: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg (all finely ground)

1.Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and set aside.

2.Cream together butter and sugar until mixture is light and fluffy and the color is light yellow, about 3 minutes on medium high speed.

3.Continue to beat mixture on medium high speed, adding in eggs 1 at a time. Add in remaining wet ingredients (brandy and cream).

4.Fold flour, by hand, into cake batter in three batches.  Add in spices. Add in raisins and mix well to fully incorporate all ingredients.

5.Transfer batter to loaf pan and cook for about 80 minutes, or until a cake tester (or knife) inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

6. Let cake sit for 15 minutes before removing it from pan.

Origin of a Dish: Brooklyn Blackout Cake

blackout2Brooklyn Blackout Cake. Photo courtesy The Way We Ate.

Flipping through my new copy of The Way We Ate: 100 Chefs Celebrate a Century at the American Table, I came across Rachel Wharton’s recipe for Brooklyn Blackout Cake. The book features a century of recipes from some of New York’s most prominent foodies; Rachel Wharton, one of the editors of Edible Manhattan and Brooklyn in one of my favorite people, and Brooklyn Blackout Cake is a double chocolate dessert that has some interesting history, leading all the way back to World War II and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

During World War II, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was one of the United State’s most important ship building yards. In its heyday, it employed 71,000 workers, including blacks, Hispanics and 5,000 women. They held managerial jobs, made equal pay as white men, and even did the same work–including women welders.

Food in this era was most strongly shaped by rationing and shortages  Owners of local diners had to stand in ration lines for hours to get food for their restaurants, often simply shutting down the business instead of struggling to procure food. Even the Navy Yard commissary had difficulties: fresh fruits were scarce, coffee intake was limited, and luxuries like chocolate were especially hard to find. Sugar was rationed, cacao processing plants lacked labor, and what was produced was mostly sent to the front. Chocolate was a valuable source of energy, as well as comfort, for the soldiers who were fighting.

However, workers in the Navy Yard remember the smell of chocolate wafting over their workplace from Rockwood’s chocolate factory. Founded in 1904,  the company would become the second-largest chocolate producer in the country, ranking only below Hershey’s. The complex on Washington Avenue in Brooklyn converted raw cocoa into treats like Rockwood bits – their answer to Tollhouse Chocolate chips.  They also had major government contracts during the war, and their dependency on these contracts is perhaps why the went out of business in the post-war 1950s. Their factory, marked “Van Glahn Brothers” for the wholesale grocers who originally built it, can be easily seen from the BQE and is now “upscale loft units.”

There was another chocolate confection maker in the Navy Yard area that thrived before and during WW II: Ebinger’s Bakery. The store opened in 1898 on Flushing Ave., just outside of the Yard.  Ebinger’s was part of a tradition of commercial baking in the neighborhood, particularly German bakers. These shops presented an air of authenticity by hiring shop girls with German accents.

Ebinger’s is most reminisced about for its chocolate cake, “with its two layers of moist chocolate cake, soft chocolate cream separating the layers, soft creamy chocolate icing, sprinkled over with crumbs of the chocolate cake itself.(source)” Cake with a crumbled cake topping is very meta. Although this cake was probably first produced in the early 20th century, it got its famous name during World War II.

 “Brooklyn, like the rest of the city, was subject to blackout drills,”  Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours told me. Turnstile offers historic tours of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

“In January 1942, a German Uboat even entered New York harbor, saw the lights of Lower Manhattan still ablaze, and used  the city lights to sink two tanker ships in short order. ” Action needed to be taken to protect the American ships entering and leaving the NavyYard.

“The first citywide blackout drills were held in June 1942, and throughout the war, much of the city went through a permanent ‘dimout.’ In Brooklyn specifically, the lights of Coney Island were essentially turned off throughout the war, as they were in Times Square, giving birth to many innovative mechanical signs, like the smoking Camel sign.”

Ebinger’s, being a neighbor of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, decided to name their chocolate-on-chocolate cake after the war-time events: Brooklyn Blackout Cake.

Although Blackout Cake is a beloved New York City- born food, Ebinger’s filed for bankruptcy in the 1960s, and closed for good in 1972. Many feel they were victims of anti-German sentiment during and after WWII. Some fans of the cake bought one before the bakery closed and it kept it in their freezer for a year.

Ever since, it feels like old school New Yorkers have been on a search to find a perfect replica of the Blackout cake. It might be one of those things that only tastes best in memory, but I don’t think it would hurt to give Rachel Wharton’s recipe a try. You can find her recipe here.

The History Dish: 19th Century Wedding Cake

weddinga_cake1Historic wedding cake, passed out as a wedding favor.

After I got engaged, one of the first questions I was asked was “Are you going to have historic wedding cake?”

No. I was not. Why? Because historic wedding cake is disgusting.

Ok, maybe that’s not fair to say.  It’s just not to MY taste.  Our actual wedding cake was a spice cake with pecan, salt and dulce de leche filling and cream cheese frosting, baked from scratch by my mother, an award winning baker.  That’s my kind of cake.

But I did decide it would be a sweet and meaningful wedding “favor” to send everyone home with a slice of 19th century wedding cake.

I didn’t end up using the wedding cake recipe that inspired the name of this blog; I followed the recipe for “Ohio Wedding Cake” from Buckeye Cookery, published in 1877.  Since my husband and I both grew up in Ohio, and that’s where we got married, it was eerily appropriate.  Additionally, it used almost the exact same ingredients and proportions as Lydia maria Child’s 1830s recipe, but gave better instructions.  They were more clear, and revealed some of the specifics of 19th century baking any good Victorian housewife would have known, but I did not.

wedding_recipe

This was a quick recipe to put together; I baked and frosted three recipes (three large sheet pans) in a day.  I used mixed fruits from King Arthur Flour as well as raisins, brandy, red wine, nutmeg, cinnamon, mace and cloves to flavor the recipe. It was baked at 350 degrees for about an hour. It would have had a meringue frosting, but egg based frostings are not durable in the summer heat. I made a glaze from powdered sugar and water instead.

I wrapped little rectangles of cake in self-sealing bags, with a copy of the recipe behind it. The cake was a huge hit. My mom loved it. Most people liked it. And those that didn’t, appreciated the experience. And although the cake was of the dense and heavy fruitcake variety, it was actually better than I expected.

DSCF6096Wedding cake: wrapped with a recipe.

For more on the history of the wedding cake, check out this fantastic Gastronomica article “Wedding Cake: A Slice of History.”

Summer Vacation

Hi Friends!

This post is hear to let you know I’m on a Summer Sabbatical until July 16th. That’s a long time to be gone, I know, but it’s for a good reason:

I”m getting married!!!!

Following the wedding, my fiancee Brian and I going on a honeymoon to Mexico City, followed by a trip to the Gulf Coast.  We’ll be staying in northern Verracruz, near Papantla, the native region of Vanilla. I’ll be taking a tour of a vanilla plantation, as well as generally devouring everything in Mexico. Follow me on Twitter for updates while I’m gone, but there will be lots of photos and a blog about the trip when I return.

If you’d like to give us a little something for our big day, we’re registered with the Human Rights Campaign.  We’re getting married in Ohio, a state that bans same-sex marriage in the state constitution; HRC is workings towards change. Please go here if you’d like to make a donation in our name.

I want to leave you with a wedding cake recipe from 1830, first published in The Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Child.  It’s very close to my heart because it inspired the name of this blog.

cake

Kitchen Histories: The Measuring Spoon

spoons2

My latest Kitchen History for Etsy focuses on the history of recipes–you can read it here. By the time these little spoons were manufactured c. 1900, recipes were orderly and measurements were exact–they look much like a recipe does today.  But that wasn’t always the case.

Take a look at the recipe below for Common Gingerbread from Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches by Eliza Leslie, 1844.  It’s such a wonderful window into life in the 1840s–dropping hints on everything to how to process sugar to how professional bakers made gingerbread.  It’s almost a novel in the life of a gingerbread. 

Is it better, or worse, than a modern recipe?  What do you think?

COMMON GINGERBREAD Cut up a pound of butter in a quart of West India molasses, which must be perfectly sweet; sugar house molasses will make it hard and heavy. Warm it slightly, just enough to melt the butter. Crush with the rolling pin, on the paste board, half a pound of brown sugar, and add it by degrees to the molasses and butter; then stir in a tea cup full of powdered ginger, a large tea spoonful of powdered cloves, and a table spoonful of powdered cinnamon. Add gradually sufficient flour to make a dough stiff enough to roll out easily; and lastly, a small tea spoonful of pearl ash melted in a little sour milk Mix and stir the dough very hard with a spaddle, or a wooden spoon; but do not knead it. Then divide it with a knife into equal portions; and, having floured your hands, roll it out on the paste board into long even strips. Place them in shallow tin pans that have been buttered; either laying the strips side by side in straight round sticks, (uniting them at both ends,) or coil them into rings one within another, as you see them at the cake shops. Bake them in a brisk oven taking care that they do not burn gingerbread; scorching sooner than any other cake.

To save time and trouble, you may roll out the dough into a sheet near an inch thick, and cut it into round flat cake with a tin cutter, or with the edge of a tumbler.

Ground ginger loses much of its strength by keeping. Therefore it will be frequently found necessary to put in more than the quantity given in the receipt.

See the original recipe here.

The History Dish: Silesian Cheese Cake

silesian3A Silesian Cheese Cake!

The History

When The Practical Cookbook was penned in 1844, Germany wasn’t a unified country: it was a collection a various city states, each with distinct languages, cultures, and foodways.  The recipes is this book are often titled with the region of their creation: “Pork Croquettes in the South Germany Style,” “Frankfurt Sausages,” “Baden-Baden Pudding,” “Westphalian Cake,” and this recipe, Silesian Cheese Cake.  Silesia was a part of Prussia, which today is part of Poland–although when this book was written the area was German-speaking.  The Cheese Cake is a yeast risen dough, topped with a mixture of cheese curds, sugar, and cinnamon.

 

The Recipe

silesian_chees_recipe

For the Dough:

2 1/2 cups white flour
1 cup yeast starter (It’s a moist, doughy yeast culture that lives in my fridge.  More on this in a future post.  If you don’t have fresh yeast, use 3 cups flour and 1 packet yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water.)

1/2 cup apples, pared and diced.  (The original recipe calls for raisins.  I hate raisins.  But this dough needed some sweetness, so apples instead!)
1/4 unsalted butter, melted (The recipe calls for half butter and lard; I used schmaltz instead.  Butter will do just fine)
2 cups warm milk
2 tablespoons sour cream (or buttermilk)

Put everything in a bowl and mix it up, stirring in the apples last.  Cover with a clean towel and set somewhere warm to rise for 30 minutes.  Spread into a baking pan, and allow to rise 30 minutes more.

It’s about 10 degrees outside in Queens right now, so finding a warm spot in my house for the dough to rise was difficult.  But I found it by following the cat–she knows best.  She’s been camping out by the steam heat pipe in the bathroom.

silesianMoxy helps the dough rise.

For the topping:

The recipe’s directions confused me in regards to the cheese curds–”…The evening before wanted take 3 quarts of thick milk with the cream, put into a cheese cloth bag, and the next morning use for the cake.”  Okay, so she’s instructing cooks to strain the liquid out…but usually you have to make it curdle first.  Would the cook add salt?  Would the natural bacteria in the milk make it curdle? Would it be more like Greek yogurt? Maybe someone who’s reading this post knows better.

I found a package of “French Yogurt Cheese” in a weird, small grocery store near my house.  It looked, and tasted, like large-curd cottage cheese, which seemed to be about what I needed.

silesian1What is this? I don’t know.

1 cups vaguely defined cheese curds (try cottage cheese)
1/4 cup cream
1/2 stick melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 large egg (I put in two–but the recipe would have used 2 medium eggs, not two large. Ooops.)

Put it in a bowl and mix it up!

silesian2Mixing the Topping.

After the dough had its second rise, I poured the cheese mixture on top, then baked at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

The Results

I cut a slice of this cake while it was still warm.  It had surprisingly moist, dense, and gummy texture.  I’m not sure if that’s the nature of the recipe, or if my yeast didn’t do much of anything.  Either way, I didn’t really mind.  It kinda worked.

I think this cake could use some technical improvements.  Perhaps the dough should be baked first, then spread with the cheese topping, and put in the broiler a few minutes to melt and brown it.  I think the ultimate incarnation of this recipe would be a slightly sweetened yeast dough, topped with poutine-style cheese curds, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  Salty, sweet, and a little gooey–I think it could be a real winner.

 sliesian4Gummy, but decent.

 

 

The History Dish: The Photographer’s Cheesecake

photo_cheescake2A cheesecake recipe for a 19th century Photographer.

The History

College was one of the most difficult and demanding times of my life.  I looked for small ways to escape the pressure, like ducking into Attenson’s Antiques on Coventry, a maze of rooms stuffed with treasures.  In the back corner was a bookshelf used as a dumping ground for an ever-growing collection of photographs.  Box after box, picked up at estate sales, ended up in this nook.  If the day was quiet enough, the shop owners would let me spread out on the floor to go through the black and white lives of people long dead.  After an hour or two, I’d have a pile of images set aside.  I’d pay ten or twenty dollars, and take my new friends home.

An albumen print of Tom Thumb and his wife, Lavinia.

An albumen print of General Tom Thumb and his wife, Lavinia.

If you’ve ever spent time sorting through thrift store images, you’ve certainly come across a type of photography known as albumen printing.  Albumen photographs are characterized by their sepia tone, glossy sheen, and sometimes a metallic shine in the dark parts of the image.  They’re also printed on a thin piece of paper glued to a thicker cardboard stock.

Albumen is made of egg whites.  This sticky substance allowed photographer to adhere photo chemicals to glass plates, allowing for the first commercially viable form of reproducible photography.  Additionally, when painted on paper, albumen created an ultra smooth surface on which to float photosensitive chemicals; the result was a highly detailed image when the photo was printed.

The process was revolutionary and used for much of the second half of the 19th century, and even into the 20th.  However, producing albumen paper used a lot of eggs whites and left a byproduct of a ton of egg yolks.  Some of those yolks could have been used in this recipe for “Photographer’s Cheesecake” published in The Wilder Shores of Gastronomy: Twenty Years of Food Writing.
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The Recipe

In 1861, The British Journal of Photography suggested, to the amateur photographer, that he could use his excess egg yolks to make a cheese cake.  One day, after making a meringue, I had a lot of yolks on my hands and decided to give it a try.  It required very few ingredients and took less than ten minutes to assemble.  Problems started to arise when I baked it: the filling was still liquid although I had baked it longer than the recipe suggested.  When I put it in the fridge overnight, it was solid, but liquefied at room temperature. I still ate it, though.

The Photographer’s Cheesecake
Originally printed in The British Journal of Photography, 1861
Reprinted in The Wilder Shores of Gastronomy

To convert the yolks of eggs used for albumenizing to useful purposes: Dissolve a quarter of a pound of butter in a basin placed on the hob, stir in a quarter of a pound of pounded sugar, and beat well together; then add the yolks of three eggs that have been previously well-beaten; beat up altogether thoroughly; throw in half a grated nutmeg and a pinch of salt; stir, and lastly add the juice of two fine-flavoured lemons, and the rind of one lemon that has been peeled very thin; beat all up together thoroughly  and pour into a dish lined with puff-paste, and bake for about twenty minutes.  This is a most delicious dish.

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 of a freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
Juice of two small lemons
Zest of one lemon
Puff Paste (store bought is ok!)

Beat (using an electric mixer, if you like) butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Add nutmeg and salt; mix.  Add lemon juice and zest; mix.  Pour into a baking dish lined with puff paste, bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

The Results

photo_cheesecake1Out of the oven.

Honestly, it tasted great!  I loved the citrus, which complemented the nutmeg well. At the same time, the technical aspects of the recipe didn’t work.  It was goopy and runny and not at all right–and I don’t think it was my mistake.  perhaps this recipe was originally published as a joke, not as a real recipe?  Which seems silly, because what on earth did those photographers do with all those egg yolks anyway?

 

Taste History Today: The Sugar Loaf Baking Company

sugar_loafI celebrated my birthday this week, so for the next few days, I present a few posts on cake!

I first want to write a few lines about an amazing man I met way back in August, at Deborah Peterson’s Pantry Foodways Symposium–a gathering of 18th century food enthusiasts (because that’s how I roll).  Niel V. De Marino had a vendor’s booth set up displaying the most gorgeous cakes I had ever seen–all from 18th century recipes.

I tried to convince Neil to open a stand at the Brooklyn Flea, but he seemed unconvinced there was a market for 200 year old cake in  New York City.  I disagree.  He has no website, so the only way to contact (and commission) him is by phone. His info is at left.

I sampled some of his cakes on site, and snapped a few photos–bear with me on the quality of the images, they’re cell phone pics.

 

IMG_20120818_105241These were filled with some sort of rose petal jam.

IMG_20120818_105206I think this one was called a “Queen’s Cake” – almondy, sweet, and moist.  My favorite.



IMG_20120818_105153
I don’t remember what these were called; they had dried fruit in them and were soaked in brandy and aged much like a fruit cake.

 

IMG_20120818_105134An incredibly rich and complex gingerbread cake, filled with spices and chunks of candied ginger.

IMG_20120818_105109Cookies–I think they were anise flavored?  They were made with cookie stamps, and had the clearest impressions I had ever seen achieved.

IMG_20120818_105043Seed cake–flavored with caraway seeds.

 

The History Dish: Galette de Roi

galletteA mediocre Galette des Rois.

I didn’t put this post up yesterday, and I promised I would.  After the cake was consumed, we drank some wine, as is the custom, and things happen.  Namely “strip Apples to Apples,” which it turns out is not a very effective game.

So, a day later, here are the results of my King Cake experiment.  First, the recipe, as printed in The Wilder Shores of Gastronomy--it’s from a 1927 cookbook, but the author claims it is much older, dating from the time of Louis VIX.  My French isn’t good enough to check the primary sources to confirm.

gallette_recipe

I did something really dumb: I didn’t follow the recipe.  A King Cake is supposed to be a lot like a puff paste and I was all like “Oh! I know how to make a puff paste, and this isn’t it.”  So where the recipe says to mix in softened butter, I cut in frozen butter, like a pie dough.  And then I accidentally added too much water.  Then, I didn’t cut the design deep enough (it’s supposed to be three stalks of wheat and FPF).  I baked it too long and burned the bottom, and the sprinkled sugar didn’t melt evenly, and left psoriasis-like patches of glaze.  Kindof a disaster.

galllette2

It’s suppose to be a flaky tower of slightly sweet, buttery crispness.  Mine was this dense burnt thing.  Or maybe historic King Cakes were denser, I don’t know.   But it was consumed in due time, and a king was crowned, and a good time was had by all.  I’d try it again next year.

gallette3

 

By the way, did you know Epiphany is a really big deal in Florida?

Party Time Reenactor: Epiphany!

Just when you thought the holidays were over..THEY’RE NOT!  You know that song, the Twelve Days of Christmas?  Well the partridge in a pear tree is Christmas Day and those twelve drummers drumming appear on January 5th.  The next day, January 6th, is known as the Feast of Epiphany and is the true end of the holiday season.

Sometimes called “Three Kings Day,” it celebrates the Wise Men visiting baby Jesus   But in reality, it’s just another pagan festival appropriated by Christians.  It’s full of drinking and raucousness and CAKE!

Le Galette de Roi means “King Cake,” and it’s an integral part of the French celebration of Epiphanie.  This is another holiday classic I remember from French class, along with buche de noel.  It’s different than the Mardi Gras king cake, (which is–what? Like a bundt cake?) it’s a flaky cake with a surprise inside: a bean, a porcelain baby Jesus, or, in the galette I got once in Paris, a teeny Asterix. Whoever gets the treasure gets to lord over the party for the rest of the night.

James Bauman, in his charming essay in The Wilder Shores of Gastronomy, describes the King Cake tradition:

The warm galette is brought to the table where its fragrance and beauty is admired briefly before it is cut into the proper number of wedges.  A child, usually the youngest, is sent to hide under the table, there to act as the oracle…As he indicates each portion, the ‘master’ asks, ‘For whom is this piece?’ and the child calls out the first name that pops into his head…until all are served and begin eating in an air of anticipation.  For someone is about to find the Bean in his cake and thereby become King (or Queen) of the festivity.  To cries of ‘Long Live the King!’ he is duly crowned…Whenever he raises his glass all must cheer ‘Le Roi Bois! (The King Drinks!) Vive le Roi!” and drinks to his health. Pranks and general merriment ensue…

The cake itself is flaky, like a puff paste, and sometimes almond filled.  I’ll be baking up a historic recipe tomorrow, hidden bean and all, and serving it to my friends. Recipes, photos and more–tomorrow!