The Ice Cream.

Elisabeth Hawar wrote her name in the front of her recipe book and dated her collection 1687. She also wrote two addresses in the Shoreditch and Spitalfields East London neighborhoods inside the front cover. These tantalizing biographical and geographical details link her manuscript, now held at UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Library (fMS.1975.003), to the thriving mercantile communities of London’s East End in the aftermath of the Restoration and the Great Fire.

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When I first saw this book in the reading room, I was equally excited about her recipe for “The Ice Cream.” In the five years that I’ve been testing recipes for this site, I’d never tried a receipt for ice cream even though I experiment with modern ice cream whenever the temperature rises above 85F each summer.

The Recipe

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(37) The Ice Cream./
Take a quart of good Cream sweeten it with
sugar Rosewater or what you please you must have
little tin things which are made on purpose for Ice
cream, first put your Cream into the tin things, do the
cover close on then, & do it up close with butter
about the edge of the cover then take 4 ll [pounds] of ice
lay clean Cloth on the ground & with a hammer
break the Ice in pieces then have some Roach Allom
& bay salt strew this on the Ice beat the Allom small
Then have an earthen pot, put some of the Ice in the
bottom of the pot, then put in the tin things with the
Cream, & lay all the Ice about them that they may
stand fast in the pott, & cover them all over with Ice
then lay the Cloath over the pot which the Ice was
broken on, so set in a Cold celler let it stand one
hour then take it out of the tin panns, put it on silver
plates so serve it up./

The original recipe describes a detailed method for sealing the flavored cream in “tin things” that were especially made for ice cream, breaking the ice and using salt to alter its temperature, and chilling the cream in an “earthen pot” in the cellar. Since the recipe does not describe churning – which radically changes the crystallization of the frozen cream – the texture would have been rather different than the churned, updated version below. If you recreate the recipe using the original method, please let me know how it goes in the comments!

Tasting my updated recipe, below, you might notice that the ice cream has a slightly different texture than some of your favorites. Modern American ice cream falls into two main camps – custard-based (which includes eggs) or cream-based (which is egg-free). This recipe is cream-based and when I was reworking the proportions I used Melissa Clark’s recipe for egg-free ice cream as a guide. (I also may have texture on my mind because I’ve been editing a series on the topic for The Recipes Project with Amanda Herbert.)

Updated Recipe

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
3 T rosewater
3/4 c sugar

Heat cream and milk in a sauce pan. Add sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add rose water.

Put mixture in the refrigerator to chill for approximately 30 minutes, or until the mixture is no longer warm to the touch.

Use ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s specifications. (For my KitchenAid ice cream maker, this involves freezing the bowl for 12+ hours before using and churning the ice cream on “stir” for 20 minutes.)

Put the mixture into a container to chill in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving.

Results

Subtly flavored with rosewater and sweetened with sugar, this ice cream is simple and refreshing. If you have an ice cream maker and some lead-time, it’s a perfect dessert for a summer gathering.

I was thrilled to share this recipe with participants in the Clark’s “Antique Ice Cream Social” event last month. During the test-tasting, a few participants who expressed a general dislike for rosewater found that this recipe passed muster. It didn’t taste “soapy” or overly perfumed. (You can watch a clip of me talking about ice-cream making here.)

 

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Lemon Posset

Possets teeter on the divide between medicine and food. These boozy, herbal, and, in this case, creamy, beverages are refreshing drinks on the one hand, and curative concoctions on the other. We made a “Could Possett” in the early days of this project and I decided that it was high time to try another.

This recipe for “Lemon Posset” comes from MS Codex 785, the source of my recent posts about Mutton with Oyster stuffing and Simnel cake.

The Recipe

lemon posset

Lemon Posset
Take a pint & a half of Cream a pint of Birch or
White Wine the juice of one Lemon, pare one half
of the peel thin and steep it all night in the Wine
and grater the other part when you put the Cream
to in the Morning and Sweeten ’em to your taste
work it in a Jug with a Chocolate Mill and take off
the Froth as it rises.

Our Recipe

1 cup white wine (I used Vino Verde but any decent drinkable will work.)
Grated or zested peel of a whole lemon, divided into two batches
Juice of half a lemon
1 1/2 cups cream
1T sugar (add more or less to taste)

Put half the lemon peel and the white wine in a jug. I used a standard 4-cup mixing jug and covered it with plastic wrap. Let this mixture sit overnight to infuse. You can also let it sit for 6-7 hours during the day if you plan to serve this in the evening.

Before serving, add the remaining lemon peel and lemon juice to the jug. Pour in the cream and whisk vigorously. Skim off rising froth or unpalatable debris. (I did not find his necessary.) Taste the posset. Add sugar, I added one tablespoon, until the posset is sweetened to your taste.

Consume immediately.

The Results

Between the wine and the lemon I expected this posset to curdle, like many hot possets do, but it didn’t. It was like a frothy lemon milkshake, a tangy yogurt lassi, or an herbaceous egg white cocktail. It was sweet even before I stirred in the sugar. I wondered what flavors Birch Wine might contribute to its overall flavor. Then I added an ice cube to my glass and sipped it as I cooked other things.

Although I enjoyed sipping my small glass of posset, I still had quite a bit of it left over. Inspired by its texture and flavor, I decided to put the remaining mix in my ice cream maker and see what happened. I’m pleased to report that lemon posset ice cream is delicious. Since I poured the posset mix straight into the frozen bowl without adding eggs or more sugar, the texture wasn’t as lovely as other ice creams I’ve made. That said, I heartily recommend experimenting with posset ice cream as temperatures rise this summer. Tweak the recipe, follow the instructions on your ice cream maker, and let us know what happens!