Welcome to the very first CakeBook Monday post, a weekly highlight of books old and new that focus on cakes and baking, include wonderful recipes, or feature cakes and baking in an interesting way.
For this inaugural post, I have chosen an extremely popular book that you’ve probably never heard of, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse (available for free from Google books, though I love my Applewood 1805 facsimile).
The most sought-after cookbook in Revolutionary America, it was first published in London in 1747 and, as the title page notes, was “Printed for the Author; and fold at Mrs. Ashburn’s, a China-Shop, the corner of Fleet-Ditch.” The book made Mrs. Glasse, mother of 11 (5 of whom were surviving at the time of publication), a wealthy woman, at least for a time. Bad decisions led to declaration of bankruptcy, the sale of all rights of The Art of Cookery, and time served in a debtors prison. She died in 1770.
Her life is the subject of a hard-to-find (at least stateside) BBC documentary, Hannah Glasse: The First Domestic Goddess. Much of what I know about her comes from the introduction to the aforementioned Applewood Books edition by the fantastic Karen Hess as well as this 2006 article from The Independent.
But what about cakes and baking?
Truth be told, I chose this book for one line in one recipe:
Blood-warm. How odd and creepy, yet plainly intuitive? I can feel, without first-hand knowledge, what temperature that is.
So there you go. CakeBook Mondays off to a morbid start.