To Dry Peaches - The Queen-like Closet (1675)
|Dry Peaches and Red Quince Paste Served at Curia Regis 9/10/2017|
The author, Hannah Wolley was born in 1623 and was the "Martha Stewart" of her day. By the age of 17 (1640) she was working in a nobles household who recognized that the culinary skills she had learned from her mother (general cooking, confectionary and medicinal remedies) was extraordinary and helped her to develop those skills. Hannah had many firsts in her long career; the first woman to attempt to make a living from writing, the first to have her name attributed to a cooking book and the first to direct her writings to servants in an attempt to bring to the lower social classes the ability to enjoy the grand style of food enjoyed by the upper classes. It appears that her writing career began at the age of 38 with the publication of her first book "The Ladies Directory" in 1661 and then her next book "The Cook's Guide" in 1664. All in all, the Queen-Like closet had five publication dates (1670, 1672, 1681 and 1684) and also enjoyed two editions published in German.
The inspiration for this dish began with the idea of wanting to present two different fruit pastes of contrasting color to those who were present at the Curia Regis brunch. Before we go further, I have to admit that I used the cook's prerogative to make this dish--instead of leaving the fruit whole, I pureed it and created a fruit paste. I wanted to make a bright yellow candy that would be a counterpoint to the red quince paste that I had made. I also wanted it to be a different shape. I knew I wanted to make use of summer fruit, either peaches or apricots and to create a bright gold candy. Having already interpreted the recipes for the orange marmalade and the rose conserve from "The Queen-Like Closet ", I took inspiration from the following recipes to create the clear peach jelly pictured above.
CCXV. To dry Apricocks. - Take your fairest Apricocks and stone them, then weigh them, and as you pare them, throw them into cold water, have in readiness their weight in fine sugar, wet it with some of the water they lie in, and boil it to a Candy height, then put in your A∣pricocks, and boil them till they are clear, when they have lain three or four days in the Syrup, lay them out upon Glasses to dry in a stove, and turn them twice a day.
CCI. To dry Apricocks or Pippins to look as clear as Amber. - Take Apricocks and take out the stones, and take Pippins and cut them in halves and core them, let your Apricocks be pared also; lay these Fruits in an earthen dish, and strew them over with fine Sugar, set them into a warm Oven, and as the Liquor comes from them put it away, when all the Liquor is come away turn them and strew them thick with Sugar on every side, set them into the Oven again, and when the Sugar is melted lay them on a dry dish, and set them in again, and every day turn them till they be quite dry. Thus you may dry any sort of Plumbs or Pears as well as the other, and they will look very clear.