I stumbled upon an interesting food article in the Northamptonshire Telegraph online . The article is a ‘how to’ for using left over hard sauce after the holidays and speaks of a recipe that I have never heard of called Eccles cakes. Apparently, Eccles cakes were a decadent cake that used butter and sugar that were outlawed in the late 1600’s – early 1700’s by Oliver Cromwell who believed that the cakes were so good that they must be a sin. Cromwell had been a soldier, politician, and devout religious figure in England, “Cromwell sought 'Godly reformation', a broad programme involving reform of the most inhumane elements of the legal, judicial and social systems and clamped down on drunkenness, immorality and other sinful activities” (Cromwell Association, 2005). His memorial statue is in place at Parliament square, where service is held annually on September 3rd, Cromwell Day.
An aspect of culture and society, which holds a special place in my heart, is local cuisine and the stories they hold. When traveling abroad or to regions of the US, I always try to find some local foods or brews to try (…‘if I wanted a burger, I can get one at home’ is my usual saying when on vacation). When I came across this article in the Telegraph, it was the perfect opportunity for me to do a little research on the history of the cakes and Oliver Cromwell. In doing so, I discovered that Cromwell was a supporter of the religious rights of Protestants in England. My personal connection to this story is that my ancestors were Protestants that fled England in the early 1600’s in search of religious freedom.
Link to history of Eccles cakes - http://www.ecclescakes.com/History.html
Link to Eccles cakes recipe - http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/eccles_cakes_75687
Hard sauce has its origins in the 1700’s when it was used as an icing to pastries, cakes, and puddings.
Hard sauce is a sweet, rich dessert sauce made by creaming or beating butter and sugar with rum (rum butter), brandy (brandy butter), whiskey, sherry (sherry butter), vanilla, or other flavorings. It is served cold, often with hot desserts.
It is typically served with plum pudding, bread pudding, Indian pudding, hasty pudding, and other heavy puddings as well as with fruitcakes and gingerbread.
In the U.K., it is particularly associated with the Christmas and New Year season and Christmas pudding and warm mince pies, serving as a seasonal alternative to cream, ice cream or custard. At Cambridge, it is also known as Senior Wrangler sauce.
Though it is called a sauce, it is neither a liquid nor smooth. It could be more accurately classified as a spread and has the consistency of butter. It is easy to make and keeps for months under refrigeration. It can be pressed into a decorative mold before chilling (Black, 2005).
Link to recipe for brandy butter - http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/brandybutter_2535
- Black, William. (2005). The Land that Thyme Forgot. Bantam
- Cromwell Association Online. Retrieved 20 February 2013 from http://www.olivercromwell.org/cromwell_and_religion.htm
- Kimbell, Vanessa. (30 Jan. 2013). Eccles cakes. Northamptonshire Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.northantstelegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/food-drink/recipe-of-the-week-eccles-cakes-1-4736740