Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wrexham Gingerbread - 1870

One of the oldest magazines I've found so far is my May 1870 issue of Peterson's magazine. The cover is discolored like the sepia tint of an old photograph, and the edges of the pages are curled and ripped. But as soon as I hold the paper in my hands and open up the front cover, I find my imagination easily leading me into the world of 130 years ago. The magazine is filled with fashion, household hints, recipes, and other matters of everyday life, and it is written to an audience that is completely part of that world. So becoming a part of that audience myself is an amazing thing.

Before I get to the recipe, I wanted to share with you some of the things I found the most interesting in the magazine. Above, you will see a colorful illustration of Parisian fashion for the spring and summer of 1870. In a later section of this May issue, the reader is told:

"As we said, in our last number, long dresses are never seen on the street; but many of the street costumes are made with what is called a court-train, (not very long, however,) which is made to loop up in an artistic way for out-of-doors, and can be dropped in the house, thus making the one dress answer admirably for two occasions."

And short dresses were not at all what we think of today. In the figure above, dresses 1, 2, and 5 were described as being short dresses.

And here is an illustration of the latest hairstyles and bonnets for May! Again, the magazine describes the hairstyles of the season in more detail, explaining that
"The falling coiffures, which have succeeded the raised ones of last winter, greatly change the aspect of many faces: regular and well characterized beauties have gained by the change, but the saucy-looking, irregular types have lost. These last acquired an air of gracefulness and youth by having the h
air turned up to the top of the head instead of covering the neck. We would, therefore, advise ladies of this latter class to moderate the depth of their chignons. Fashion is not immutable."

Finally, here is a page of the typical advertisements of the time. I really couldn't find any food ads to show, but to the left is a pretty good assortment of odds and ends from the end of the magazine.

And now, since this is a vintage food blog after all, here come the recipes! I was very surprised to see that they don't seem that difficult after all. Well, with an exception - the recipe for Brighton pudding says to beat the sugar and eggs for twenty minutes! I think I'll pass.

The recipe that stands out as appearing rather doable, to me, is the Wrexham Gingerbread. Because there are no exact measurements, but you are using equal amounts of all the ingredients, it seems you can easily tailor the recipe to your needs. I have typed up the recipe below:

Wrexham Gingerbread - 1870

Equal quantities of flour, butter, molasses, and loaf-sugar; the butter, sugar, and molasses to be made hot; then mix in, by degrees, the flour, the rind of a lemon, and ginger to your taste; drop it on buttered tins, leaving a space between, and bake it in a rather quick oven. Take it off with a knife, and to make a variety, roll some over a stick when warm, to look like wafers.

If you'd rather see the recipes for yourself, just click below. Enjoy!


Nick, BBC Wales Web Team said...

Hi, fascinating to read about Wrexham Gingerbread. From where did you find this recipe as we're interested to learn about its origins so we're blogging about the recipe and your site.

Her Shabbiness said...

I'd love to get my hands on such an old magazine. I love all that stuff, especially the descriptions of fashion and style of the time. I stumbled upon your blog from another blog and enjoyed my visit.

vintage dish said...

Hi Nick,
Thanks for blogging about the recipe! I honestly had never heard of Wrexham Gingerbread before until I happened to come across it in this magazine. But now you have piqued my interest and I'll be keeping an eye out for it!

Her shabbiness,
Thanks to you, too! Ever since I found my first really old magazine, I've become more obsessed with finding them. I agree, I love all the old styles and things like that. I'm glad you found the blog and I hope you return again!