Friday, November 12, 2010

Bible Cake

While researching the history of food during World War Two (for a Culinary Historians of Atlanta event), my friend Chef Christy Seelye-King ran across a 1947 recipe for Bible Cake. It’s really more of a puzzle than a recipe. Each ingredient must be gleaned from Biblical verses. The recipe was published in the “Olio” Cookery Book in England. It’s easy to imagine a scene in one of those stark black and white English movies of the 1940’s. An English housewife, who always wears an apron, is trying to figure out the recipe for Bible Cake, printed in the Sunday newspaper. Her husband is away at war, and she is single-handedly keeping her household going. The Bible Cake recipe-puzzle serves as a comforting distraction.

I wondered about Bible Cakes. Was this idea invented during World War Two, or did it go back a-ways? Turns out I didn’t have to look very far. The answer is in the fine blog, Hushpuppy Nation, written by the food journalist, Rick McDaniel. The earliest Bible Cake recipes are to be found in cookery books published in England during the late 1700’s. The war between England and its American colonies didn’t dampen the enthusiasm that women had for Bible Cakes. None other than Dolly Madison was said to be a fan. Here is a link, with recipe, to the article about Scripture Cake in Hushpuppy Nation.

And here, for your amusement, is the recipe for Bible Cake, published in 1947, in the Olio Cookery Book. Good luck with it!

Bible Cake 
 Look up the references and work out what’s required.  It won’t taste too good if you get it wrong!
1.     225g (1/2 lb.) Judges V, verse 25 (last clause)
2.     225g (1/2 lb.) Jeremiah VI, 20
3.     15ml (1 tbsp) I Samuel XIV, 25
4.     3 of Jeremiah XVII, II
5.     225g (1/2 lb.) I Samuel XXX, 12
6.     225g (1/2 lb.) Nahum III, 12 (chopped)
7.     50g (2 oz) Numbers XVII, 8 (blanched and chopped)
8.     450g (1 lb.) I Kings IV, 22
9.     Season to taste with II Chronicles IX, 9
10.  a pinch of Leviticus II, 13
11.  5ml (1 tsp) Amos IV, 5
12.  45ml (3 tbsp) Judges IV, 19

(Hint: ‘leaven’ means ‘baking powder’ and you may need to add some Exodus III, 14 to moisten the mixture)

Beat 1, 2, and 3 to a cream; add 4, one at a time, still beating; then 5, 6, and 7, and beat again.  Add 8, 9, 10 and 11 having previously mixed them, and lastly 12.  Bake in a slow oven for 1 ½ hours.  

Ps - If you want a recipe that comes with the answers, click here. 


Ellen said...

Deb: Saw a variation on this a number of years ago in Ernest Matthew Mickler's White Trash Cooklng as "our Lord's Scripture Cake". Thankfully, he supplied the scriptural reference translation.

Looks like the un-fruitcake I've been thinking about!


Deb Duchon said...

HI Ellen - I think you're right - a fruitcake. Might be fun to make it as a Christmas gift along with the recipe! If you click on the link to Hishpuppy Nation, you'll see a recipe that comes with the answers. Thanks for the reference to White Trash Cooking, too.

Deb Duchon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellen said...

Deb I forgot to tell you I made this before Christmas. It was a little dry, so I doused it in whiskey and took it to church.

jenA said...

Ms. Duchon,
This request is not related to your post but I am hoping you can help me with an article I'm writing for Liberty Life magazine in Hinesville, Georgia, on hot dogs.

We're asking local restaurateurs to create customized hot dog dishes and I want to include in the story some background on how the hot dog has become part of our culture and why it continues to have such strong culinary appeal even as people learn to develop more sophisticated tastes thanks to television food shows and the Internet.

I appreciate any input you can give and I thank you for taking a moment to consider my request.

Jen Alexander McCall
Freelance writer and editor

louise said...

Hi Deb, Ellens sister here;
Can you tell me something about the origins and permutations of the King's Cake?, now seen in raging( probably some tradition there, too) crewe colors in New Orleans and eaten from Epiphany through Lenten tide (Mardi Gras). European origin?and certainly not colored in its european origin??
Thanks for the assist.
Tis the season

Medifast Coupons said...

This recipe the way it is written is going to be fun to share with my ladies. I can't wait to see which one of them cracks the recipe first. Thanks.

Chuck Levin said...

Maybe I'll try baking it someday.