I can now tell you why I have been so busy and lax lately. My husband was elevated to the order of the Laurel this last weekend and his squire brother made a Knight. I have been busy helping with organizational things as well as planning some "treat" to have. To this end I was brought back to a previous "food failure" that I had, Elizabethan Biscuit Bread is thy name.
The first time I conceived to cook it, it was a joint effort. My good friend and I were competing against another team in an open fire competition. The recipe struck us and so we began to cook! We glanced at the recipe i think twice in total which is likely our first mistake, we looked to the redaction maybe a time more. So it was not until we were finished that we saw we had made our mistake.
The original recipe is as follows:
Take one pound of flower,& one pound of sugar, one ounce of annisseeds, half an ounce of coriander seed, mingle these together, take viii eggs and beat them verie well, then put in your stuff, then beat it alltogether very wello, then take dishes and annoint them with butter & put stuf into them, Let the oven be as hot as it is for manchet, when it is browne at top turne it, & set it againe, if you will have uit light put the yolks of viii eggs more to it & beat the sugar with the eggs, before the flower bee put in.
Now where I found this recipe unfortunately only states "A recipe from 16th century Elizabethan England." I must further look for it though. So the original source is unknown to me. The source for the inspiration for the person is no longer locatable as well. I am digressing.
So with a quick glance we measure 1 for 1. Yes we measured, not weighed the flour and sugar. It was a tasty and lightly crisp cookie that resulted, but not what was intended, but still a success. So my memory of these being a nice little cookie I contemplated plates of them for the vigils. Being that I wanted it all done for Friday I started making them on Thursday so they would be fresher. I pulled out my book, and began to read, slower this time as there was no hurry, it dawned on me what we had done. I mean we re read the recipe at home and had discovered it much earlier but this time it really began to settle in. We had done it wrong and now I was faced with a challenge and dilemma. Do I do it wrong again and get what I expect, or do I do it right and not know what to expect?
Do it right won me over, I had the period recipe to work with and therefore did. I got out my scale and measured my flour and sugar first. I had yolks left over from a previous project and so opted for the "lighter" version. Problems arose when I measured my spices, to a modern palate this would have been overload! and so here I did deviate in favor of wanting people to actually eat them and scaled back but keeping the ratio. I noticed instantly that this batter was "wetter" than the previous ones I had made and thus would be harder to "form" and I also noticed that my oven would not be needed. I took the tact to butter a pan and cook them like pancakes! Well while they were turning out tasty and coming along they also stuck to my spatula on turning so not easy, and then it struck me, not pancakes but waffles! This would be wonderful in a waffle iron. My large problem came in the debate of weather they would hold well until the following night and my determination was it would not hold and while I would have loved to make them I did not want to be making them fresh before the vigil.
Now, we all know that for most recipes measure is important but in baking it is the key. All baking is formulaic and each small derivation is a catastrophe or success in the making.