Graham Gems

Graham Gems Gems are little muffin-like cakes that were extremely popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although they were most often made using graham flour, some recipes called for cornmeal, oatmeal, rice, bran, rye or buckwheat (or a combination). Most gem recipes had very few ingredients – some just required graham flour, water…

Chocolate Jelly

Americans have long valued the ease created by new technology, and innovation in the kitchen is no exception. Cooking advances were particularly ubiquitous during the nineteenth century, with the inventions of the icebox and cook stove, newfangled ingredients like baking soda, and food processing advances such as canned goods. Powdered gelatin was one of these…

Cream Puffs

by Becky Diamond “If a list had to be made of the articles of pastry held highest in popular esteem, cream puffs would be found somewhere near the beginning.” ~ The American Pastry Book by Jessup Whitehead, 1894   Recreating historic recipes is by no means an exact science, particularly for baked goods. Today’s ingredients and utensils…

Chocolate Cake | Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

Chocolate Cake

Valuable “windows to the past,” diaries provide fascinating comparisons to life today, offering a slice of someone’s thoughts, activities and other memories from a particular period in time. Since cooking has been an important part of everyday life, recipes (or receipts as they were often called years ago) frequently worked their way into women’s diaries…

Lemon Pie | Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

Lemon Pie

Lemon pie is often considered a Southern confection, conjuring up images of plantation parties with lovely slices of the sky-high pie served on fancy china. Others may think of it as a Diner restaurant staple, a featured highlight in the revolving glass dessert case alongside other luscious treats such as cream puffs, éclairs and cheesecake.…

Plum Pudding | Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

Plum Pudding

Cookies, cakes and pies are the desserts most Americans associate with Christmas today, but back in the Victorian era, plum pudding was the highlight of the holiday feast. Even the poor Cratchit family in the Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol had one on their holiday table. We have the British to thank for bringing their…

Hot Water Sponge Cake | Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

Sponge Cake

Simple, light and elegant, sponge cake was the quintessential cake of the Victorian era, transformed into endless style and flavor combinations. Some were served plain, garnished simply with fruit, whipped cream or a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar. Others took it up a notch by adding flavorings such as lemon or orange. The most elegant were…

Strawberry Shortcake | Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

Strawberry Shortcake

True strawberry shortcake incorporates a rich, crumbly, biscuit-like cake that is not too sweet – very similar to a scone. The biscuit dough can be shaped into one large cake and then cut into pieces, or baked as separate little cakes, either by cutting the dough into rounds with a biscuit cutter, or dropping spoonfuls…

Salad | Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

Winter Salads

“Salads are supposed by a large class of people to be difficult to prepare; but such is not the case. They are really simple of construction, and one needs only to use a little judgment in their preparation.” ~ Murrey’s Salads and Sauces by Thomas Jefferson Murrey, 1884. A salad of fresh, tender lettuces is…

Jelly Roll | Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

Jelly Rolls

A perfect springtime treat, pretty, dainty Jelly Rolls conjure up images of ladies tea parties, bridal showers and fancy brunches. A Victorian era creation, these delicious confections are made from very thin layers of sponge cake spread with fruit preserves or jelly, rolled up into a neat cylinder, and then sliced into elegant spirals. Light…