A couple of years ago, I found out that my great-great-great Aunt was a famous American cook called Eliza Leslie (though she was better known as Miss Leslie). I was fairly excited by this and, as the cook in the family, I was given one of her original cookery books – Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book, published in 1857. It is a book I treasure and I am now trying some of her recipes. While flicking through William Sitwells’s A History of food in 100 recipes I also discovered that the first known printed recipe for Cupcakes was by Miss Leslie from her book 75 Reciepts for pastrys, cakes and sweetmeats.
I don’t have this book at the moment, but the cupcake recipe is, as I say, in Sitwell’s Book and for my first trial of Miss Leslie’s recipes I have decided to go with this one. So for the next little while I am going to revert to the 1800’s and try to see if Aunt Eliza’s recipes still work today… At the very least I shall have some fun in the kitchen and be quietly smug I had such a lady as an ancestor….
Two large teacupsfull of molasses (I used treacle)
The same of fine brown sugar
The same of fresh butter
One cup of rich milk
Five cups of flour sifted
Half a cup of powdered allspice and cloves
Half a cup of ginger.
Cut up the butter and warm in the milk
At the same time warm the treacle and stir into the milk, gradually add the sugar and leave to cool.
Beat the eggs and stir into the mixture with the flour, add the ginger and spices and mix well together. The smell here of rich treacle and spices in really amazing.
I buttered muffin tins and baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
The cakes themselves were heavy as I expected them to be (this is a very old recipe!). But they had a glorious taste of winter. The spices coming through were amazing. I had been worried it would be all cloves, but it’s definitely a recipe I will do again, though I may add some baking powder to lighten them just a little. Mini cupcakes with a cup of tea; bliss. Life can’t have been all bad in the 1850s…
Here’s how they came out: