When I tell people about this blog, I often get asked the question. “How much has food changed in the last 100 or so years, really? I mean, aren’t we eating the same things we’ve always eaten?” The answer is a big, old, resounding *no*. And for one of the best examples of the change, you can look no further than dessert topping.
Yes, dessert topping-known in modern times as Cool Whip or Ready Whip-was not always the mild, smooth, slightly vanilla-tinged compliment to jello, pudding, or ice cream. Oh no, my friend. In the days of Regency England and Colonial America (think late 1700’s to early 1800’s), the fruit and desserts in homes from the middle class to the rich were graced with a whip cream that was on a whole other, magical level.
They fortified it with lemons and wine.
That’s basically what separates our modern-day whip topping from Syllabub, a concoction that sounds more like it belongs in a high school English class than on a fruit salad.
But trust me, your world is about to be rocked.
I first heard about syllabub while reading Jane Austen. The girls and I are just weeks away from attending the Jane Austen Festival, put on by the Greater Louisville chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America. This will be our second visit to the festival-and this year we are going all out with our costumes and plans. To say that we are getting excited would be a gross understatement. I thought this would be the perfect recipe to launch a few weeks of pre-festival recipes, focusing once again on the food of Jane Austen’s lifetime, as I did last year.
Also I was listening to a podcast from NPR Food about a month ago, where I heard a chef say that he was on a personal crusade to restore the dish to modern tables. And I thought, “I’m in! I can help!”
This recipe comes from Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches, published in 1840, which is a few years after the Regency Period ends but this is the same recipe I found in cookbooks published within that formal period and it is easy to replicate. I served this to friends at a get together, and it got rave reviews. It makes a HUGE bowl full-so don’t double it, because I served nine people and I had enough left over for many more. You can eat it on top of fruit, or pound cake, or plain, like pudding.
• 2 lemons
• 1 cup white wine
• ½ cup powdered sugar
• 2 cups heavy whipping cream
The rind of the lemon will infuse the liquid with more tartness.
Peel the lemon rind off the lemons and place it across the bottom of a casserole dish. Then juice the lemons.
Thanks again to my parents for my lovely citrus juicer, which makes quick work of lemons but sounds like a table saw!
Using a mixer, combine the wine, lemon juice, and powdered sugar.
I used Pinot Grigio.
Then add the whip cream, a little at a time, until it’s all combined well. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish with the lemon rind, cover, and refrigerate for at least three hours. Chill your mixing bowl.
In this step, you letting the flavors have a chance to really marinate together.
When you’re almost ready to serve, remove the lemon rinds and pour the liquid into the mixing bowl. Whip on high until it makes a stiff froth. Mine took about 15 minutes.
It was really, really, really good. Why did this go out of style?
Serve and enjoy!!