Don’t be fooled by the word “cream.” This delicious recipe for Lemon Cream from Amelia Simmons’ cookbook American Cookery (1796), is ironically completely dairy-free. Instead, it uses an interesting egg-cooking technique which yields a delicious custard-like dessert. While fruit creams of this nature have over time fallen off most modern culinary menus, lemon cream is one of the few survivors. It’s most recognizable today in the form of lemon cream pie.
This is a very easy recipe. Be sure to use only fresh lemon juice!
- 6 egg whites
- 1 whole egg
- the juice of 4 lemons (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup of water
- 2 cups of sugar
- the rind of one lemon
Mix together the egg whites, egg, lemon juice, and water.
Whisk in the sugar until it’s completely dissolved.
Pour the mixture through a sieve to strain off any egg treadles.
Put the whole mixture in a pot with the lemon rind, and place it over medium-low heat.
Stirring constantly, slowly bring the mixture up to a simmer — just under boiling. If any foam or scum forms, remove it.
The mixture will remain very liquid as it heats up. It’s very important that you stir the mixture continuously. Immediately prior to boiling, the mixture will suddenly and noticeably thicken. When this happens, immediately remove it from the heat.
Serve the cream warm or cold “in china dishes”. (Jon serves them in these beautiful bowls.) The cream will continue to set as it cools.
This cream can be served by itself or in other desserts. Jon, Michael, and Ivy brainstorm a few such desserts, like a tart, pie, and doughnuts.
What would you make?
Post your ideas and or pictures below!
Sweet recipes and desserts exploded in popularity during the 18th century. Cook books from that time are full of sugary treats that are as assorted in form as you can imagine. As delicious as many of these treats were, it can be a bit perplexing that they didn’t survive — at least in the North American context. The Syllabub is an example of a yummy dessert that for some strange reason has fallen into obscurity.
Syllabub was always a dessert beverage. Trying to define it further is a bit complicated. This is because the characteristics of syllabubs vary greatly. Recipes from many books, from over a broad span of time, call for many different wines, densities, processes, and flavors. Even just within Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife (1739), are three very different recipes for Syllabubs. To simplify things we will talk about just one fantastic version; the whipped Syllabub.
While it may be difficult to concisely define a syllabub, don’t despair! You should see the variety as a green light for your creativity! Feel free to embellish, add, subtract, substitute or change the recipe however you desire. With syllabubs, if you imagine it is delicious, it will be — this is undoubtably one of the reasons why there are so many variations in the first place. In the video below Jon and Michael make a few variations of Smith’s “Whipt Syllabubs”.
For the drink
- approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine per serving (Smith’s recipes call for Sack or sherry, Rhenish White Wine, or Claret, but feel free to use another white wine or even hard cider. For a nonalcoholic version try white grape juice or apple juice.)
- about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar per serving (you may wish to eliminate the sugar altogether if you’re using a sweet wine)
For the topping
- 1 cup white wine or juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Juice of 2 lemons (less if you desire a less-tart topping)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- garnish with grated nutmeg and a squeeze of lemon rind
For the drink
Combine the wine and sugar and stir until dissolved.
For the topping
Combine the wine or juice, the lemon juice, and a 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Once the sugar is dissolved, mix in the heavy cream.
Whisk the mixture until it forms soft peaks. This can be done by hand or with a mixer with a whisk attachment.
Fill each of your serving glasses until about half full, then top with the whipped cream topping.
Garnish with a sprinkle of grated nutmeg and squeeze of fresh lemon rind.
Sit back, relax, enjoy your syllabub. For yet another variation, stir the whipped topping with the drink to create what was called a “jumble syllabub.”
What do you drink if you’re worn out and need a little kick? An Ade, soda, an energy boost? In the 18th century, before supermarkets had shelves lined with this stuff, many people drank a delicious beverage called Switchel.
Beverages similar to switchel date all the way back to ancient Greece, and were drank all the way around the world. This recipe was typical of those popular in America from New England all the way to the Caribbean. Of course regional influences made for local flares. In Vermont, for example, Switchel was made with Maple Syrup and mixed with oatmeal. (The oatmeal was eaten as a snack once the beverage was finished.) While in Trinidad the drink was almost always mixed with special branches from the quararibea turbinata plant. (Also known as the swizzlestick tree.)
Like Jon mentions in the video above Switchel is excellent with alcohol rum. The succulent balance of vinegar and sweetness makes for an exquisite cocktail base.
- 1/2 gallon of Drinking Water
- 1/2 cup of Unsulfured Molasses (not blackstrap!) — to understand better what type of molasses this is, make sure you watch the video on Switchel posted above. You may also substitute maple syrup or honey.
- 1/4 cup of Apple-Cider Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of Powdered Ginger
Switchel, along with many other tasty beverages, can be found in Libations of the Eighteenth Century by David Alan Woolsey, sold at Jas. Townsend and Son.