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Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

06 March 2008

Regency Refreshments: Rout Cakes

I had a special request for Rout Cakes from blog-mate Lauren Willig. Sadly, I couldn’t find a single recipe for them in my three chosen sources, and had to go further a field . . . I found plenty of period references to them (dating from 1807 onward), but no recipes before 1824. Even the recipe in Tea With Jane Austen is from 1840. The recipes I did find bear very little resemblance to one another, especially as there are “drop” versions and versions that sound more like a thin cake batter (which call for icing), some call for currants, some don’t. It seems to be no different from modern recipes, e.g. some chocolate chip recipes call for nuts, some don’t (mine calls for a packet of pistachio pudding mix, but I bet most of yours don’t). Seeing as there’s no one way to make them, I don’t feel an ounce of guilt about taking a small bit of creative license here and there.

A New System of Domestic Cookery (1824):










The Cook and Housewife’s Manual (1827):














The 1827 recipe for Kent Drop-Cakes looks remarkable similar to the 1824 one for Rout Drop-Cakes.









So, once again I was left to tinker. I liked the idea of sweet wine (I went with sherry) and brandy. And I think currants are starting to grow on me . . . I couldn’t find orange blossom water on short notice, so I used a bit of zest. The dough came out at the constancy of Nestle Tollhouse cookie dough, and when baked, the finished product was similar to a modern currant scone (or at least it’s similar to the ones they sell at Peet’s Coffee and Tea here in the Bay Area).

1 cup butter (softened)
¾ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp sherry
2 tsp brandy
Zest of one orange
OR 2 tsp orange blossom water (if you can find it)
OR 2 tsp orange liqueur (Cointreao, Gran Marnier, etc)
3 ¾ cups flour
½ cup currants


Preheat oven to 350º

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and beat. Add vanilla, sherry, brandy and zest or orange water/liqueur and mix. Add in flour 1 cup at a time. Add currants with last ¾ cup of flour.

Dough will be cookie-like. Make rounded balls the size of walnuts and bake on a parchment paper or Silpat 20-25 min (until golden). They puff up a bit, but don’t spread so you can put them relatively close together.

My friends’ reactions:

My sister ate the ones I left her and texted “Cookies. Yum!”. Amie thought they were “Medieval, but tasty”. Issa loved them (he’s easy to please). Kristie and I thought they were perfect with a glass of sherry, and would be wonderful with tea. We all agreed that they’d be exceptional with a little orange icing/glaze (orange juice mixed with powdered sugar). Liza’s daughter (who’s just starting to eat real food) ate two (ok, she ate one and crumbled one on the floor for the dogs, who begged for more). Children and pets clearly approve.



5 Comments:

Blogger Lauren Willig said...

Kalen, you are fabulous! Now that I've just, um, finished the entire batch of very non-Regency chocolate chip cookies I made the other day (no pistachio pudding mix in them, but lots of nuts), I'm going to have to try to make these!

11:50 AM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

Maybe the reason I can't find any early recipes is that they don't exist! The OED dates "rout cake" to 1807 (J. BERESFORD Miseries Hum. Life xv. §6. 60 Such feminine bon-bons as sweet-meats, rout-cakes, and the choicer kinds of fruit).

12:49 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Okay, we definitely have to have a sherry party! These sound wonderful. While I had an idea of what seed cake was, I really didn't know what rout cakes were. Fascinating!

9:46 PM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

Where would one FIND pistachio pudding mix, anyway? The local Food Emporium just doesn't carry it. :)

I've been playing around with rice puddings these wintry months. Made one from store-bought eggnog and soaked the raisins in Capt. Morgan rum.

Kalen, these recipes started me thinking about the evolution of various ingredients (and flavors). Hard to find orange-flower water these days (actually, I think I HAVE seen it at the local Food Emporium), but then, it was a staple of baking. Ditto for rose water. In my 1801 Time Travel, BY A LADY, I have our contemporary heroine discover that the cookies she was offered at tea seemed to have more scent than flavor, and to her palate, tasted more like perfume than food.

5:19 AM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

***Where would one FIND pistachio pudding mix, anyway?***

It's made buy Jello, and most major Super Markets carry it (Whole Foods certainly does--out here anyway--and I know you have those in Manhattan). You mix a small box (as opposed to the large box) in at the same time as the eggs. Makes the cookies really tasty and moist. My mom's always made them this way, don't know where she got it.

***Kalen, these recipes started me thinking about the evolution of various ingredients (and flavors). Hard to find orange-flower water these days (actually, I think I HAVE seen it at the local Food Emporium)***

It's not hard to find here, either. Almost any highend place (Dean and Deluca, Sur La Table, etc.) will have it. And if you happen to have a Middle Eastern or Indian grocery, they'll have too (and cheaper!).

***In my 1801 Time Travel, BY A LADY, I have our contemporary heroine discover that the cookies she was offered at tea seemed to have more scent than flavor, and to her palate, tasted more like perfume than food.***

That's so perfect! When I was in Morocco, one of my coworkers was really put off by the fact that everything seemed to flavored with rose water. She said the whole country tasted like old lady soap. LOL! And I do have to admit that being greeted with a bowl of thick cold goat’s milk flavored with rose water can be a little much if you don’t like goat’s milk or rose water (luckily I like ‘em both!).

7:28 AM  

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