Anne Langton’s Dessert Biscuits

Anne Langton trained in an artist in Europe, and was being prepared for a life in the British elite. When her family lost its fortune, and they could no longer keep up with social expectations, her brother John emigrated to north arm of Sturgeon Lake, near Fenelon Falls. In 1837, Anne joined John at Blythe, which was named for their former home back in England.

Anne’s life in the Kawarthas was very different than then life of privilege she had been raised to live. She was one of the few who had the ability to write, artistic talent and time to capture the experience of life in the backwoods of Upper Canada. Her letters to her brother who remained in England were complied into A Gentlewoman in Upper Canada. This book and her art have assumed national importance.

For those living in the backwoods, baking required many skills that are no longer common. Typically done over an open fire, few would be fortunate enough to have a wood stove. Few ingredients were available, and it was often a matter of discretion how to combine them. Bakers would know just how much flour to add—and also how to substitute for what they did not have. Without graduated measuring cups, measuring spoons or an electric stove, the precise measurements, baking times and temperatures we take for granted today, were not then possible.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • Caraway seeds
  • Flour
  • Water

Directions

  • In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar with as much water as will dissolve it. Add 1/2 cup clarified butter.
  • Pour this hot mixture over 4 eggs, beating it up until a little cool. Add a few caraway seeds.
  • Stir in flour until it becomes a stiff paste. Roll the dough and fold it as often as your patience will allow.
  • Form cakes the thickness of two half crowns and prick the dough before baking.
  • Note: A half crown was a silver coin worth 2 shillings 6 pence.

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