This Day In ... 1818
MISTRESS ANDREWS DIED, BAKER OF THE WOTHORPE CHEESECAKE
Many of our Waterfurlong fruit trees were supplied by Messrs W & J Brown, whose extensive nursery grounds lay on the other side of Tinwell Road where Exeter Gardens now stands. Brown's main base was at Wothorpe, where Richard and Ann Brown first set up business in 1830, Richard having previously worked as head gardener to Sir John Trollope at Casewick Hall. The Browns' new enterprise included the tenancy of Wothorpe Tea Gardens, which Ann continued to run until 1871. This now-forgotten establishment had been in existence since the 1760s, as we learn from an obituary in the Stamford Mercury of 25 December 1818:
‘Yesterday, aged 85 years, Mrs Andrews, who for half a century was mistress of the tea-gardens at Wothorpe near this place; and whose mild and obliging manners, and excellent cookery of cheese-cakes, made her during that long period a favourite of all the young people educated at the different schools in the town.’(1)
So far, we have been unable to find further information on Mistress Andrews or her famed cheese-cakes. What we can be reasonably certain of is that they were of the baked variety, contained no curd cheese (a 19th century American development - the name originally came from the dessert's cheese-like texture) and were flavoured with lemon, nutmeg rose-water or orange-flower water. They may or may not have included currents.
The following brief recipe comes from the intriguingly-titled contemporaneous 'Cookbook of Unknown Ladies'(2):
TO MAKE EXCELENT LEMON CHEESE CAKES
Take half a pd of almonds. Pound them with rose water, but not too much, half a pd of loaf sugar. Boyle the yallow peel of a large lemon pared prity thick & pounded very well, 8 eggs, 4 whites well beat, 3 qrs of a pd of butter melted prity cool, 2 spoon fulls of rose or orange flower water. Mix all well together & bake them.
Mystery surrounds the compilers of this extraordinary hand-scripted book; a type-written title page states that the recipes were collected by ‘various unknown women about the year 1761’. The City of Westminster set up a project to
recreate the recipes and, after experimentation, suggests
the following modern-day cheese-cake adaptation should you fancy having a go over the holiday period. Meanwhile, we're raising a celebratory glass to Mrs Andrews whose confections brightened the life of many a Stamford boarding-school boy!
150g ground almonds
150g caster sugar
1 small lemon
2 egg whites
3 whole eggs
1½ tbsp orange flower water
Take strips of peel from the lemon and boil for a couple of minutes. Drain and allow the peel to cool.
Melt the butter on a low heat, then allow to cool.
Mix the almonds with the sugar and rosewater.
Chop the cooled lemon peel very fine and add to the almonds.
Beat the egg whites until they are light, fluffy and form soft peaks.
Beat the 3 whole eggs and melted butter into the almond mixture and add a good squeeze of lemon.
Carefully fold in the beaten egg whites, keeping as much air in the mixture as possible.
Spoon the mixture into sandwich cake tins or large ramekins.
Bake in the oven at 180ºC until cooked through and golden brown.
SOURCES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
(1) The British Newspaper Archive © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. All Rights Reserved.
Photograph © Ymon via Pixabay
Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018