Candy Making with Honey Part 2: touch

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To continue the candy making theme here we go…

Here (Instructables) is a fantastic discussion on using cold water to show what “stage” your sugar is at to decide when to take it off the heat. Honey doesn’t work the same way. Honey has three steps, soft ball, hard crack, and burnt.

These steps help you use the cold water test to get the texture of honey you want. Combines with the “sight” you get close to a consistent product every time you make candy.

You can also use ‘smell’, but once you smell the honey is burnt it is too late.

Henry Buttes in Dyets Dry Dinner* says “…ginger condite with honey, warms old mens bellies…it is very restorative.”

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • pinch of ginger, ground (or saffron, black pepper, cinnamon)
  • 1 bowl of really cold water.

Directions

  1. Warm a frying pan on medium. Place honey in frying pan and bring to a boil. Skim the surface of any impurities as you work, stirring continuously.
  2. You should notice the honey change from golden clear to a light brown at around 4-6 minutes. Drip a few drops of honey into your cold water. The honey makes a pale platelet that sinks to the bottom. If you touch it, and eat it, it is very soft and chewy. At this temp you get a sticky mess if you pour it out on your nonstick surface. Good for shaping or caramel.
  3. After 2-4 more minutes the honey will suddenly change darker.  Drip a few drops of honey into your cold water. The honey makes a darker hard platelet that floats on top of the cold water. If you touch it, and eat it, it is crunchy.
  4. Quickly add the spice and stir.
  5. Pour the mixture onto a non stick surface to cool.
  6. break apart to serve.

You can test your candy by dropping it in the water as you go to reassure yourself that it hasn’t burnt. It will go from hard crack to burn in about 30 seconds so its good to test frequently.

  • Found at Early English Books Online as a pdf of the original printing, or my transcribed (annotated and redacted) version on amazon.ca

 

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Making Candy with Honey Part 1: sight

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This is a series of blog posts dedicated to making candy with honey (instead of sugar or corn syrup). I’m teaching a class on this in February so I am prepping for my class and blogging about it.

When making candy please have a bowl of water on hand to treat burns if the need arises.

This blog is how to use the changing colours of hot honey (or your sight) as an imperfect gauge for candy making (instead of a thermometer method). The cooking times given will be determined by the moisture content of your honey and the humidity of your kitchen. Raw honey is about 20% moisture, where candy is around 1-5%. Heating is what causes the moisture loss, obviously.

Honey boiled with walnuts, called nucato. Take boiled and skimmed honey, with walnuts chopped slightly and spices, cooked together; dip your hands in water and spread it out; let it cool and serve it. And you can use almonds and hazelnuts in place of walnuts. An Anonymous Tuscan Cookery Book

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped small
  • pinch of ginger, ground
  • 2 pinch of cinnamon, ground

Directions

  1. Place honey in sauce pan on medium, and bring to a boil. Skim the surface of any impurities as you work, stirring often.
  2. Mix the chopped walnuts, and spices, into the honey and coat well. Bring honey back up to a boil and stir continuously.
  3. You should notice the honey change from golden to a pale brown once it is brought to boil again, after the nuts are added, at around 4 minutes. At this temp you get a sticky mess.
  4. After 3-4 more minutes the honey will suddenly change slightly darker, more of a cardboard box brown.
  5. After 2-3 minutes the honey will suddenly change darker again, light brown leather coloured. This is a firm but slightly chewy candy. (If you keep going after another 30 seconds to 1 minute you will get, very dark brown, which is a hard, and brittle candy, but the risk of burning the mixture at this time is very high.)
  6. Pour the mixture onto a non stick surface to cool.
  7. Slice and serve immediately.

Creamy Bastard! or Creme Bastarde!

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I feel like I should put this blog through a pirate talk translator every time I read “Bastarde!” (arrr)

I’m looking for recipes for a SCA feast idea, an irreverent one, and the name (Bastarde! Arrr!) fits the bill but I have to try it.  It might be a bit labour intensive for a feast, but could be made in advance.

151. Cream Bastarde. Take the whites of eggs a great heap, and put it in a pan full of milk, and let it boil; then season it so with salt and honey a little, then let it cool, and draw it through a strainer, and take fair cow milk and draw it  withal, and season it with sugar, and look that it be poignant and sweet;  and serve it forth for a pottage, or for a good baked meat, whether  that thou will.

There are many different versions of the recipe online. From a whipped topping creaminess to a chunky tapioca texture. I think you get tapioca if you don’t draw it through a strainer twice or bring it to a boil too quickly.

I’m imagining a custard, with the sugar added at the end plus baking it, would thicken it enough.

Cindy translates heaps as “4” which could be a thing. You need one whole egg and 1 tablespoon of sugar to thicken 1 cup of milk. Extra egg white should make sure it thickens without the yolk.

If we don’t over bake it, it shouldn’t be rubbery, which egg yolks like to do.

Search for “diet custard” recipes if you want to explore other egg white custard ingredient ratios. The few I looked at put in heaps of whites.

Ingredients:
* 4 egg whites, lightly beaten
* 1 cup of whole milk + 2 tbsp
* 2 tbsp honey
* dash of salt
* 2 tbsp raw cane sugar

Directions:

  1. Put egg whites and milk into small, wide-bottomed, saucepan on medium-low and bring up to scald (bubbles forming on the outside of the pan, skin forming over the milk–I’m not using raw milk and I don’t want to burn it)  and then add honey. Stir until honey is melted and then remove saucepan from heat. Let cool until room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven until 350
  3. Pour cooled mixture through a wire strainer into a bowl. Add in 2 tbsp of milk and 2 tbsp of sugar and mix. Pour through a strainer back into sauce pan, or other oven proof dish.
  4. Bake until mixture firms up, approximately 30 minutes. Serve cool if you want it to thicken fully–serve warm if you cannot help yourself.  Its very sweet.**

** Serves 6 if people know how to share, realistically 2 (because the third is asleep).

The Tale of Two Tarts – Pear tarts three ways

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dsc_0483Sometimes you find two recipes that are fairly similar but with small differences. Like the two recipes that are back to back in A  BOOK OF COOKRYE :

To bake small meats.
Take Egges and seethe them hard, then take the yolkes out of them and braye them in the morter, and temper them with Creme, and then straine them, and put to them Pepper, Saffron, Cloves, Maced, small raisins, Almonds blanched and small shred and grated bread.
Take Peares also sodden in Ale, and bray and straine them with the same Licour, and put therto Bastard and Honny, and put it into a pan and stir it on the fire til it be wel sodden, then make little coffins and set them in the Oven til they be hard, and then take them out againe, and put the foresaid licour into them and so serve them forth.

To make small bake meats of Sirup and Peares.
Take Peares and seethe them in Ale, then bray them and straine them and put Sanders to them and Ale, with the spices aforesaide, and the Coffins in likewise ordered, and so put in the sirup. A.W. A  BOOK OF COOKRYE (1591)

The first “to bake small meats” recipe is pretty straight forward, a honey sweetened pear puree tart with a thick cream sauce that uses all the things to thicken the sauce. The second tart is less clear. Instead of simmering the pear mixture its baked, with a ‘sirup’. Its not clear what the ‘sirup’ A.W. is talking about here.

The manuscript has ‘sirip’ listed in four other places:

“…put in some sirup of vergious, and some sugar…”

” …take Claret wine, Vergious, Rosewater, Sinamon, Ginger and Sugar, boyle them togither, laye your Pig flat like a Fawne or a Kidde, and put your sirup unto it…”

“…and make your sirrop half with rosewater and half with that liquor & put double sugar to your Orenges, and when your sirup is halfe sodden…”

“To make sirup of Violets. … and put to them so much rosewater as you think good then let them boyle altogither untill the colour be forth of them, then take them of the fire and straine them through a fine cloth, then put so much Sugar to them as you thing good…”

So the ‘sirup’ in the second recipe can be three things:

  1. the cream sauce from the first recipe.
  2. sugar + the cooking liquid
  3. sugar + rosewater and cooking liquid

It cannot be verjuice + sugar because I said so.

So a mad scientist er a medieval recipe enthusiast googles the recipes to see what other people have done, and as of today I found nothing for either recipe. The other option open to the cook is to try the variations and see which tastes better.

Makes 37 tarts

Recipe 1 Pear Puree (for both tarts):
* 3 cups of chopped pears
* 500 ml (1 can) light-coloured beer

  1. Place chopped pears in small sauce pan. Cover with  beer. Simmer for 1 hour on medium.
  2. Strain fruit but reserve the cooking liquid, you will need it.
  3. Smash batches of fruit with mortar and pestle with a small splash of cooking liquid and then force through colander with potato masher and/or wooden spoon. This will remove most of the skins.
  4. Should arrive at 2 cups of pear puree.

Pear Tart #1 (To bake small meats)

Ingredients:
Cream sauce:
* two egg yolks, cooked
* 1/2 cup cream
* 1/4 tsp each, pepper, mace, cloves
* 1 pinch saffron
* 1 tbsp raisins
* 2 tbsp almond meal
* 3 tbsp bread crumbs

tart filling:
* 1 cup of pear puree
* 2 tbsp white wine
* 2 tbsp honey

12 small tart shells

Directions

  1. Make cream sauce: Take 2 egg yolks and mast in mortar and pestle, adding cream slowly. Stir the liquid in the mortar, and slowly pour through a colander into another bowl. Add spices, raisins, almond meal and bread crumbs into cream mixture. Stir well and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  3. Place pear puree, wine and honey into sauce pan and brig to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Place 1 tbsp of pear mixture into each tart shell.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, until tarts are brown.
  6. Place 1/2 tbsp of the cream mixture on each hot tart, spreading it out with a knife or spoon. Make sure there is at least 1 raisin on each tart.
  7. Serve once cooled.

Tart #2 (To make small baked meats of sirup and pears)

Ingredients:
* 1 cup of pear puree
* 1/4 tsp each, pepper, mace, cloves
* 1 tsp saunders
* 1/4 cup + 1/2 cup of cooking liquid
* 1/2 cup raw sugar
* 1 tsp rosewater
* 25 tart shells

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix pear puree, spices, saunders and 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
  3. Put 1/2 tbsp of pear mixture into each tart shell.
  4. Mix 1/2 cup cooking liquid and raw sugar together in sauce pan, heating gently to dissolve sugar.
  5. Put 1/2 tbsp of syrup onto 12 of the filled tart shells.
  6. Mix rosewater into rest of syrup. Put 1/2 tbsp of the adulterated syrup onto the rest of the filled tart shells.
  7. Baked for 35 minutes until tarts are brown.

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Authors notes:

  1. The rose water ones taste better than the ones without. Who knew?
  2. The option of putting the “cream sauce” on the second kind of tart and baking it was gross. I’m not including a recipe here. 
  3. None of the above recipes tasted of pear.