When not running the Abbey Museum one of my favourite pastimes is baking. Far be for it for me to skite, but the birthday cakes I cook for the Museum staff are legendary. And my pastry, well… it is a recipe passed down through the family, and is sooo delicious that I have often had requests for the recipe… but as we all know there is always one family recipe that “if I told you about it I would have to”… well lock you in a deep dungeon and throw away the keys… just kidding, of course, but it is still very delicious.
One of my favourite times of year at the Abbey Museum is Picnic at Pemberley, our annual Regency themed event because it gives me the opportunity to research and bake recipes from that period for our guests at this special event.
This year I am trying out Rout Cakes. From my research I learnt that “during the Regency evenings were much the rage. The word rout, synonymous with large unruly gatherings, soon came to mean “a fashionable assembly, or large evening party.” (An Attempt at Rout Cakes by Laura Boyle)
These Rout Cakes sounded rather fun and as the recipe and instructions looked manageable I donned my apron and commenced baking. Here is the recipe and instructions if you would like to try:
¼ cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
4 Tbsp butter, softened
1/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 small egg
½ tsp orange juice
½ tsp rose-water
1 tsp sweet white wine or sherry
1 tsp brandy
¼ cup currants
- Set the oven to heat to 350.
- Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.
- Work in the butter to make a crumbly mixture, then add the sugar.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg until liquid.
- Add the juice, rosewater, wine or sherry, and brandy. Stir well.
- Then mix the liquids by degrees into the dry goods, to obtain a smooth dough.
- Lastly mix in the fruit.
- Put the cake mixture in small, neat heaps (3/4″ across) on a lightly greased baking-sheet.
- Bake in the oven for 16-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack
For those attempting their own Rout, what words of culinary wisdom can I offer. At first it seemed the mixture is very sticky and a little hard to handle. So I used a teaspoon to measure and drop the mixture onto a lined baking tray. I have decided that when I make my next batch I will try rolling the mixture into small balls for a more even smoother finish to my wee little cakes.
So were my cakes a culinary success???… well, my Museum staff were more than willing guinea pigs…
While there were many appreciative comments of “yummy” (please note: they are not paid to pander to the Directors baking abilities), the more critical (discerning) of the group noted the neither the rosewater nor the brandy flavours came through. The suggestion was made to soak the currents in the brandy, wine, and juice mixture.. Certainly a helpful hint worth trying next time I am in the mood for a ROUT.