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Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

14 July 2008

Regency Refreshments: Naples Biscuits

These seem much like modern Lady Fingers: something that you don’t really eat by itself, but use as a base for making something else. The oldest reference I can find on Google Books is 1810 (which doesn’t, of course, mean that this when they were invented, but it does tell us that they existed during the period). The earliest recipe I could find is from The Virginia Housewife (1838), but I also found that A New System of Domestic Cookery (1824) calls for Naples Biscuits to be used as an ingredient in several other dishes.


The Virginia Housewife (1838) :










Lobscouse & Spotted Dog (ISBN 0393320944) has a recipe for these and I saw no reason to wander:

3 Eggs, separated
1/3 c. sugar
1/8 tsp rose water
¼ c. salt
¾ c. flour

Preheat oven to 350°.

Whip the egg whites until doubled in volume. Continue to whip, gradually adding the sugar, until the whites are smooth and glossy.

Beat the yolks and stir in the rose water and salt. Fold into the egg whites. Sift the flour into the egg mixture and stir gently to combine.

Either pipe 2-3” “fingers” onto a lightly greased cookie sheet with a pastry bag or spoon into a greased Madeline pan.

Bake 10-15 minutes.

My friends’ reactions:

They’re perfectly inoffensive, but they’re not something any of us would seek out as a treat. I think I’d add more rose water, or possibly make them with orange water instead and dust them with powdered sugar.

10 Comments:

Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

"Lobscouse and Spotted Dog" was, I think, compiled by a friend of mine, Susan Smith-Petersen. I wish I had a copy.

I may try these Naples biscuits, Kalen, and just cut down the amounts proportionally since I'm the only one in my household who can eat sugar. I've always loved lady fingers and used to eat them by themselves all the time. Even on their own, minus fruit (and they're the perfect base for a good English Trifle), they make a nice light dessert, which just takes the edge off a savory meal without being heavy or too sweet.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

Lobscouse and Spotted Dog is by Anne Chotzinoff Grossman and Liza Grossman Thomas (they're sisters-in-law).

The full title is Lobscouse and Spotted Dog: Which It's [sic] a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels.

They didn't really brown at all. I bet you could make them with Splenda and then maybe the hubby could eat them too. Just an idea . . .

9:35 AM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

Hubby can't have faux sugar either, alas. And I can't stand the faux stuff. It all tastes like tin can to me. Hmph, I know Susie had something to do with that cookbook because I recall her mentioning it when we went on the 200th anni. of Trafalgar trip to England; there were as many Aubrey/Maturin fans as Lord Nelson fans on the trip. Maybe she just owns the cookbook, LOL! The fabulous title made a dent in my brain, but evidently not the context in which I first heard it.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

I've been amazed to discover that Splenda doesn't make me sick and works really well in anything that I don't need to brown (aka it's not so good for baking). Doesn't taste like tin at all (unlike everything else on the market *shudder*).

11:00 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

"...perfectly inoffensive..."

Boy, you know how to sell a recipe :)

They sound like they might be good in a trifle, though.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Mary Blayney said...

My yearly attempt at British cookery is at Christmas right up to dessert which is a Trifle -- I use ladyfingers but if I am feeling adventurous I may try the Naples Biscuits -- easy to say in July, eh?
Thanks Kalen.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

I've made other things which were wonderful (the Quaking Pudding rocked!!!). These were 'meh'.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

Ugh, bleh -- can't stand Splenda. And I can taste it a mile away. I intend to die from real ingredients.

I think the quaking pudding sounds like a good autumnal recipe.

Note to self: must stop thinking about food!!! But all these period sweets are so exciting!

A while back, before TOO GREAT A LADY came out, I purchased a "game" -- a boxed interactive "let's pretend" that's a dinner with Nelson and Emma aboard the HMS Victory (on which Emma never actually set foot). It has a menu, recipes, and music and I thought it would be a hoot to invite 6 of my nearest and dearest to "play" it along with Scott and me. I've yet to do it, though. I think you really need to do it up right with the costumes, too -- not something most of my friends have lying around their closets. :)

2:30 PM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

Amanda, I have all the costumes. *grin* I now have four Regency era gowns . . . two more and I'd have your group covered.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

Kalen, I think we may just have to wait until you're in NYC again and make all the recipes and dress up!

9:09 PM  

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