Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Syllabub - Pre-Refrigeration Dessert

Early Tin Syllabub Churns
Unusual Early Tin Syllabub Churn

I love my All Recipes subscription. Even though I hardly ever cook-cook, I love getting the recipes of the day and cooking tips. They have a pretty decent pictures of almost every recipe or term in their newsletter along with comments from people who have tried the recipes.

Today, I got introduced to a new kind of food, Syllabub. I like that you can make it with a wide variety of fruits like lemon, cherry, orange, strawberry, raspberry, apple, peach and so on. Or you can do chocolate or ginger. For a picky eater like me, it sounds great.

Lemon Syllabub - All Recipes
Lemon Syllabub from All Recipes

At first, I thought it was typo and they meant syllabus, like a college course outline. Nope, it's an actual fluffy food item that's been around since the 1600s.

Syllabub was a popular dessert in seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth century England. It was popular for celebrations, special occasions and holidays due to its festive appearance. Many original recipes survive with various modes of preparation. Generally Syllabub was made with a mixture of whipped cream, whipped egg whites, white wine, sugar, lemon juice and zest of lemon. The quantity of white wine added would determine the consistency qualifying whether the mixture would be a creamy dessert or a popular punch. White wine could be substituted with apple cider or other alcoholic beverages. One could always detect the drinker of the beverage by the thick white mustache left behind.
The syllabub even shows up in one of Jane Austen's comedic books "Lesley Castle", written when she was 16 years old.
His heart, which (to use your favourite comparison) was as delicate as sweet and as tender as a Whipt-syllabub, could not resist her attractions...

Lesley Castle
, Jane Austen, 1792

Sometimes Syllabub was eaten with Ratafia Cakes, a type of macaroon that derives its name from the flavoring used in making them. Many original recipes survive with various modes of preparation. This page on a Jane Austin website, gives you the option of making the dessert with a tool like the one at the top of the page, or using the modern method, a blender or food processor. There's even a recipe to make Syllabub with raw milk, like they did in the days before refrigeration.

Syllabub Punch Bowl Set
Syllabub Punch Bowl Set made of mint green Victorian satin glass with gilt ribbon designs

Even though gooey, fluffy desserts with gobs of whipped cream or custard make me gag and want to retch, I wouldn't mind trying some Syllabub. Now the trick is to come up with an excuse to make some at the next party I go to. That way, if I don't like it, other people can finish off the batch.

Syllabub Punch Bowl Set
Syllabub Punch Bowl made of mint green Victorian satin glass with gilt ribbon designs

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