I confess to being a bonafide foodie & cooking along with my heroines, or in this case, baking. Growing up in my granny’s Kentucky kitchen, in which not once in all her 97 years did she do dishes by anything but hand (no dishwasher), everything else was from scratch, too!
Sometimes she would make old-fashioned gingerbread which makes me wonder if her recipe wasn’t passed down in our family line and might even be from the original muster day cakes. Back then when the militia mustered, these cakes were often made, hence the name. This old recipe or receipt as they were once referred to is from the cooking diva of the 18th-century, Hannah Glasse, and her The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.
Reading about this old recipe inspired me to tuck it into my work in progress. Here’s a snippet from this frontier novel set in what is now West Virginia. To clarify, Maddie is not the heroine but Colonel Tygart is definitely our hero…
“Colonel Tygart, sir.” Maddie smiled at him, gesturing to the waiting cakes. She sliced the first with a sure hand, balancing his sample on a broad knife.
He tasted. Swallowed. A bit dry. Crumbly. How in the name of all that was holy had it cleared six judges? That every eye was upon him nearly made him squirm. The second sample was overwhelmingly spicy. A tad overbrown. But the third… Even before it met his tongue he breathed in the essence of nutmeg, cast back the thousandth time to his mother’s table. Moist. Well seasoned. A bite of lemon and orange peel and redolent with molasses. Perfectly browned. One taste wasn’t near enough.
He picked up the pewter plate the cake rested on and looked to the knot of aproned women. “Who’s responsible for this creation?”
He expected Esther to step forward. Mayhap Mrs. Schoolcraft or Rosemary Swan. The women looked about in question. Maddie eyed him apprehensively as a hush fell over the gathering…
*Copyright Laura Frantz
I so hope I’ve whetted your appetite, pun intended, for more of this novel releasing in January 2020!