Cookery and medicinal recipes of M.W., ca. 1700-ca. 1850

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Manuscript Location
Folger Shakespeare Library, Manuscripts
Holding Library Call No.
Manuscript Cookbooks Survey Database ID#
Place of Origin
Date of Composition
mostly ca. 1710 and ca. 1810
This manuscript comprises an early eighteenth century recipe book to which additions were made during the first half of the nineteenth century. The initials of the author of the original book appear on the spine. The original book includes a table of contents in the front and is written on the rectos of 158 numbered leaves, in a single accomplished hand, possibly that of a professional scribe. The later additions include a 1-page supplement to the original index, a few pages of recipes written in the body of the original text, about 100 recipes written on leaves 160r through 210r, and menus on leaves 246v through 249r. The additions are in one principal hand and at least two minor hands.

The original book begins with a table of contents that arranges the recipes under several heads: "Receipts of Cookery"; "Wines and distilled waters, &c"; "Pickles"; "Confectionary"; and "Physick and surgery." The lengthiest sections by far are "Cookery" and "Confectionary." The first covers soups, meat and fish dishes, preserved foods, puddings, and pastry, as well as sweet preparations such as dessert creams, cakes, and gingerbread. "Confectionary" is almost entirely given over to fruit preserving and fruit confectionary (such as "clear cakes"), with a few small dessert cakes and biskets and one dessert cream also listed. Overall, the original book is far more focused on sweet dishes, cakes, fruit preserving, and wine making than savory cooking. Given the modern recipes for treacle gingerbread on pages 131 and 140, the book was likely compiled in the eighteenth century, but probably quite early, as all of the large cakes are yeast-raised.

A single individual wrote most of the added recipes in the back of the book, and these recipes are of the early nineteenth century. However, a second individual wrote the final pages of this section, including a recipe for Soda Cake (page 203, preceding leaf 204r) that is unlikely to predate 1835. The menus are of the early nineteenth century and possibly in the hand of the principal writer of the later added recipes. The menus outline several two-course dinners, two or three stand-alone second courses, and a supper. All of the menus show the placement of the dishes on the table, which is set with an epergne in the center; many indicate that "garden stuff" and a few other dishes are to be placed on a "side table." The supper menu shows two tart "pyramids" (multiple puff pastry discs in diminishing sizes stacked with differently colored preserves in between) on either side of the epergne. A general recipe for the pyramids is written at the bottom of the page. 

"A Receipt to make a Jacobin" is written at the beginning of the book, possibly in the hand of the principal later recipe writer. The recipe is dated 1801 and includes the lines "God save the kings / Hang all the Jacobins in strings."