Fixing Authentic* Breakfast Food.

By Mark Tully & Karen Sorkness

For those of us who spend the night in the period camp, morning is a particular challenging part of the day. What do we make for breakfast? Breakfast usually happens before the public comes in, so we could always opt for a 20th-century menu like store-bought doughnuts and Mountain Dew, but where's the fun in that? Following are a few options for period breakfast fixin's. These can all be made right in camp over the fire in full view of the public -- welcome news for you late risers!


Pancakes

Believe it or not, pancakes are period-correct and are defined as a "Thin pudding baked in the frying-pan". In the period, pudding was "A kind of food very variously compounded, but generally made of meal, milk and eggs", So basically, any pancake recipe you might have will work just fine.1


Froise

As a variation, you might try making Froise. This period food is a type of pancake with bacon mixed in: "Froise, from the French froisser, as the pancake is crisped or crimpled in frying. A kind of food made by frying bacon inclosed in a pancake." 2 These can easily be made by frying up some bacon, breaking it into bits and mixing it into the fresh pancake batter before it is poured into the skillet. The bacon can also be sprinkled on top and quickly worked into a just-poured cake while the bottom side is frying in the pan.


Biscuit

Biscuits can also be made as a breakfast food. The dry, flour biscuits described in the November/December issue are especially nasty first-thing in the morning, but "sweet" biscuits (of the "with-tea" variety) foot the bill nicely. Breakfast biscuits can be made from oats as described by Boswell (see Nov/Dec. issue) but also consisted of "A composition of fine flour, almonds, and sugar, and made by the confectioners." 3 Any modern recipe for oatmeal or almond cookies would probably suffice.

One word of warning; though these might SEEM like cookies, that term did not appear in print until around 1796, so these -- or any type of "cookie" should always be referred to as "cakes" in the period camp.


Sausage Pudding

In February of 1757, Thomas Turner wrote: "We dined on some sausages baked in a batter pudding". 4 This curious reference is repeated several times throughout Turner's journal -- what is it? Perhaps the finest breakfast food that was ever invented -- Toad in the Hole! "Toad" is a traditional English food that is still commonly served today. Though most often served as a main meal, "toad" makes great breakfast or lunch-time fare as well! The recipe is as follows:

ingredients

8 oz. flour (1 cup)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 lb. pork sausage links (the "toads")
2 eggs

Brown the sausages. Mix together the other ingredients and pour batter over finished sausages. Bake in a covered, 8" Dutch oven for 30 minutes, or until top is puffy and lightly browned. Serves 2.5

Finished "toad" should be moist (but not runny) with a slight crust on top and around the edges. Try it at home first (bake in a 400* oven for 30 minutes) so you'll know how it's supposed to turn out.

Turner also talks of "plum pudding", so if you crave sweets in the morning, canned or fresh plums can be substituted for the sausages. Why not experiment?! Try throwing your favorite fruit or meat into your pudding and see what happens!


NOTES:

* Please note that although all of the food items presented here are authentic, they are not necessarily appropriate in a military camp setting. Most of the ingredients would have been available, but use your own best judgement before preparing these within sight of the general public.

1) A Dictionary of the English Language by Dr. Samuel Johnson, originally published in London in 1755.
2) ibid.
3) ibid.
4) The Diary of Thomas Turner, 1754-1765, Oxford University Press, 1984, ISBN 0-19-281899-6 (page 83). Turner's Journal features dozens of food references and is a must-read for anyone interested in 18th-century cuisine.
5) The "toad" recipe is based on one I obtained from my mother, Violet Jean (Hare) Tully, who was born and raised in the east end of London. It was handed down to her from her mother, who got it from her mother, and so on. It is essentially Yorkshire pudding with sausages in it. Yorkshire pudding is often substituted for potatoes with any meat dish. In this case it is usually served with a thin gravy.