Wedding Cake Recipe from 200 years ago | How To Cook That Ann Reardon

Welcome to How To Cook That I am Ann Reardon
You’ve been asking for more 200 year old recipes so this week I am challenging myself to make
this amazing dessert centre piece by Napoleon Bonaparte’s French pastry chef. The recipe to make this masterpiece is 10
pages long and it took 2 and a half days to make it! To start with it says to make the confectioners
paste. It says “take one pound and a half of sifted
flour, make a hole in the centre as usual, and put therein two eggs, three yolks a pound
of pounded sugar, and a pinch of salt; stir this for two minutes only, in order that the
sugar may be little melted; add afterwards the flour and another yolk if necessary, so
that it may be of the same thickness as paste for making hot and cold pies.” Back then they called pastry ‘paste’ and this
is way too dry to be a pastry so I’ll add another egg, let’s cheat and swap to the mixer. It is still too dry so another egg and that’s
still not enough so I’m going to add another egg. At this point I’m beginning to worry that
the recipe might not be accurate because instead of 2 eggs and 3 yolks we’ve needed 5 eggs
and 3 yolks. The recipe then says to give it “five or six
turns by working it well with your wrists which will render it particularly sleek and
binding”. It says on the main page that we need a pound
and a half of this confectioner’s paste so let’s weigh what we’ve got. 3 pounds so that’s double what it says we
need. So we should have plenty. It doesn’t actually look like it’s going to
be enough to me which is strange because it’s supposed to be double the amount that we need
so we’ll try. “Roll it out to a little more than one-sixth
of an inch in thickness and put on a large baking plate lightly buttered and then cut
it round fifteen inches in diameter.” 15 inches is huge and it’s not going to fit
on any of my baking trays or in my oven! From the picture this is the base and it sticks
out quite a long way so I am going to make it 12″ and use the largest cake tin I’ve got
to cut the circle size. “Place another piece of paste on a middle
sized baking plate, buttered and cut it likewise round ten inches in diameter.” So now we have a 15″ circle and a 10″ circle
and then it asks for another round piece of paste six inches. And this is all the pastry that I have left
after doing that! And we have more pieces to make so I will
have to make up another batch of confectioners paste so the quantities in this recipe are
way out. “Take two more pieces each forming a half-round
of eight inches in diameter and cover two moulds lightly buttered.” I wasn’t sure if it meant half circles or
hemispheres but after looking at the picture of the finished piece I think it must be hemispheres. “With the left over roll them out in large
strips a full half inch in diameter cut them into small columns of 13″ in length.” Now if they are 13″ in length the columns
aren’t going to fit when you read further on it says they have to go inside this bit
here but those ones are only 3″ so we can’t put something that is 13″ in there. I’ll make them 3″ for the top and 5″ for the
bottom, I’m not sure if they should be strips or columns so let’s just go with strips and
hopefully that is good. The version I have of this recipe has been
translated to English from French nearly 200 years ago and I am not sure if some of the
quantities were incorrectly translated and that’s where the inaccuracies are coming from
or if Careme could not do maths. That is entirely possible because he was only
10 years old when he was abandoned by his family during the French Revolution. To get food to eat and a place to sleep he
worked pretty much like a slave in a kitchen. He was only 10, he was only a little kid,
I just feel terrible thinking about that. By the age of thirty due to this talent and
determination, despite his terrible start and terrible situation, he ended up becoming
the pastry chef for the king and for quite some time he was the pastry chef for Napoleon
and even made his wedding cake. The recipe says to “put the whole in a moderate
oven and turn the three round pieces and when they have acquired a regular yellow colour
take them out as also the upright provided they are thoroughly dry.” “As soon as the half round are a little coloured
take them out.” Look at that, this stuff is pretty crazy,
it’s harder than gingerbread. It’s a bit like baby rusks but it’s sweet. It is edible but I don’t think anyone will
eat this part because it is so hard. “With the point of a small knife make an opening
of an inch in width in the centre of one of the half rounds and another of two inches
and a half in the centre of the other.” This stuff is so hard to cut, look it has
started to crack in the corner there, you should definitely cut this out before or during
baking not after. That’s exactly what I did with the second
one, that is heaps easier, there were no cracks in that one. “Afterwards make 30 wafers with pistachios
as directed on page 84.” “Let them be three inches in length and a
1/4 of an inch in width.” Now this is confusing me because 3 by a quarter
is like this it is super skinny and according to the picture it has to go all the way around
the circle. So if we look at our 6″ circle, the circumference
of a circle is 2 pi r and the radius would be 3 so that’s 2 pi times 3 which would be
equal to… let me get a calculator … that equals 18.85
So if we have strips that are a 1/4 of an inch and we divide 18.85 by one quarter then
we would need 75 wafers just to do this section and it only told us to make 30 and it is supposed
to do both this section and the one below. So I think this is definitely wrong there’s
something going on with the numbers in this recipe. Let’s try 1 and 1/4″ instead which will look
more in proportion to the way it is pictured. Then we’d need 15 for the 6″ circle. So I will do that for this level. Then on the picture the bottom one is actually
taller than the middle one so I’m going to make those 5″ instead of 3 and we’ll do that
with 1 and 1/4 width too. So using our same calculations for the 10″
circle that is going to mean that we need 25 of the 5″ ones. Ok? Good, let’s do that. “Cut half a pound of sweet almonds blanched
in very fine thin fillets, put them in a small tureen with four ounces of powdered sugar,
half a tablespoon of flour the peel of an orange (grated), two whole eggs, the yolk
of another and a grain of salt.” “Stir the ingredients gently together, so
not to break the almonds. When the whole has been well mixed, butter
lightly a baking-plate; pour this mixture upon it and level it with the blade of a large
knife.” I am using the back of a spoon because I think
it is easier, these wafers actually turned out amazingly yummy. I’ve never seen a recipe like this before
with no butter in it and they are gorgeous so you’ll want to make those. I’ll write out these recipes of you on the website so you can make them too, there is a link to that below. “Then cover that lightly with two ounces of
pistachios blanched and cut into small fillets and put in a moderate oven so that both sides
of the wafer may acquire a clear light brown colour.” I found it easiest to cut these while they
were still a bit soft into all of the strips and then bake them in the oven again to make
sure they were all evenly golden. You actually need to make three lots of the
wafer recipe to get enough for this dessert. Then it says: “Make also 24 cakes a la duchesse.” Duchess? Duchesse? I don’t know, I’m not French, I don’t know
how to say these words. “Put in a stew pan two glasses of water and
two ounces of butter. When it boils, take it off the fire and add
six ounces of sifted flour. Dry the paste in the usual manner.” Now if you’ve ever made choux pastry before
you’ll recognise this recipe straight away. You need to stir this mixture over the heat
for a couple of minutes or it won’t puff up properly in the oven. “Put into it a little salt, two eggs and two
ounces of pounded sugar. When the ingredients have been well mixed
add to it two more eggs.” “And the peel of a lemon chopped very fine.” I am going to pipe these but they didn’t have
piping bags back then so the recipe says: “Sprinkle a board with flour and form your
choux of the usual size after which roll them out to three inches in length but with as
little flour as possible in order to make them look clear when baked. Place them successively on a baking plate
at the distance of two inches and a half from each other.” “Bake them in a hot oven, when cold fill with
marmalade of apricots, peaches or gooseberry jelly.” I don’t know about you but I can not imagine
eating one of these filled with jam so I am going to use custard to fill them instead. Careme apparently invented the croquenbouche
so he must of swapped to custard in the future because people tend to prefer these filled
with custard. Further on in the recipe it says we also need
croquignoles a la reine I don’t know how to say these things, so let’s make those now. “Pound a stick of vanilla with two ounces
of sugar.” You can see al the little seeds from the vanilla
bean are now mixed into that sugar, that looks great. “Pass the whole though a silk sieve. Then add seven ounces of sugar and eight ounces
of sifted flour after which add the whole to the whites of four eggs beaten up very
stiff.” “Then work it for some minutes until it becomes
sleek and soft.” This is looking pretty dry, not so much slick
and soft, and I am not sure if the recipe quantities are wrong here too but I don’t
know what they are supposed to look like. It may have needed more egg whites but because
I don’t know I’m just going to go with what the cookbook said. It also said that these can be coloured red
green or yellow – I am going with red. I’m also going to use a piping bag, they put
spoonfuls on a buttered baking tray. Now these did turn out really super hard so
if I was making this recipe again I’d swap them for modern macarons but I’m not going
to make this recipe again because it took so long to make! “Then beat up the whites of 6 eggs very stiff
and mix them with eight ounces of pounded sugar.” They would of course be doing all of this
by hand but I am going to use my stand mixer. “Put half of it over each half-round taking
care that is be everywhere of an equal thickness. Put them in a slack oven and let them bake
an hour.” I have never seen anything like this before,
covering a hard pastry shell in meringue – this is just like genius. I am using some acetate to smooth that out
and then it can go in the oven. “The half rounds being thoroughly dry, beat
up the whites of 6 more eggs and mix them as the former with eight ounces of pounded
sugar.” “Make thirty small meringues of an inch in
width and the same in height. covering them with very fine sugar. As soon as the sugar is melted strew some
coarse sugar over them and immediately put them on a board in the oven.” “Mask the half round which has the smallest
opening first with half of the remaining white of egg then place your pistachios with points
upwards carefully and regularly upon them observe however that they should not be stuck
in deep; nor be put where you intend placing the other small meringues, for which you must
leave six vacant spaces at regular distances from each other, and of an inch in width.” “Then proceed to ornament the other half round
in the same manner, placing, however the pistachios the contrary way, that is with their points
downwards. Put your half rounds immediately in the oven.” “When your small meringues are baked place
three of them on the half round that has the large opening; thus put the first on the vacant
space where there are no pistachios and close to the edge of the half round; the next a
quarter of an inch above the former and the third a quarter of an inch above the second. Place afterwards three meringues in the same
manner on each of the five remaining vacant spaces where you have put no pistachios.” Now I of course have put four not three but
this one is going to be sitting on the base so it can’t have four on these ones, I’ve
got to take them off and put 4 on the other one. Then it says to put the half round in the
oven again! And bake until it is evenly coloured, so this
is the fourth time these hemispheres are going back into the oven. So now I have all the components of this dessert
ready, all of these plus the filled choux pastry that is in the fridge, I sure hope
it all fits together or I will have wasted 2 days of baking! It says: “After this put four ounces of sugar
to the boil with a fourth part of a glass of water and the moment it begins to be lightly
coloured, cover the stove partly with ashes so as to absorb the heat and still leave the
fire sufficiently strong to keep the sugar in a syrup.” Wow! Can you imagine doing all of this over a wood
fire? And all of that baking in a wood fire oven! How easy is it for us just to turn things
on and turn the stove down when we want it down, this guy was amazing. “Dip the end of a wafer in the pan and place
it immediately on the middle sized piece of paste. Proceed with the remaining wafers in the same
manner placing them upright close to each other so as to form a perfect circle.” And next it says to put the centre column
in for support, so obviously they were supposed to be columns and not strips it’s just changing
its mind halfway through the recipe but I’m sure strips will be fine. Now that I’m putting them in I can see these
strips are a bit shorter than the wafers which means they have shrunk in the oven as they
dried out. So it would be a good idea to make these first
and then measure them to make the wafers match those. So hopefully the weight of the top is not
going to make the wafer crack now that these supports are a bit shorter. Then it says to: “heat the sugar and after
pouring some drops of it on the ends of the columns (and I’m going to have to pour some
on the wafers because the columns are a bit short) turn the small pice of paste together
with its columns on the centre of the larger and fasten it by pressing it lightly down.” Ouch! I burnt my finger with the hot sugar so I
am going to swap to thicker gloves for the next bit. Let’s do the same thing for the smaller circle,
I am so glad we did our calculations earlier or we would not of had anywhere near enough
of these wafers to go around one of these circles, let alone both of them. If you can read French, I’d love to know if
you can find the original book online and let me know if the measurements and everything
was wrong on the original French version or if it’s just in the translation. I’d love to know which it is. Flip that over and make sure it is in the
middle. Next it says to: “glaze the small cakes a
la duchesse with sugar boiled to a crack and fix them in the manner represented on the
plate by fastening them lightly with a little caramel.” It says to put these around the edge here
but in the picture they look so much smaller. We did pipe them to the exact size it said
so perhaps that measurement was out too. When we made the 200 year old fruit pie recipe
it had meat in it, which was pretty disgusting, and you were supposed to leave the filling
unrefrigerated for four months. So we put some aside in a jar and lots of
people have been asking how the unrefrigerated meat is going? We actually opened that jar on a LIVE video
a few weeks ago and amazingly it actually smelt really good. It smelled exactly the same as the day we
put it in! “What’s smell of?” “It smells exactly the same as it did 2 months
ago.” “It doesn’t actually smell off at all!” There was no mold, there was nothing on it,
so their method of preserving that meat in the fruit pie worked really well. Then it says: “Put immediately eight croquignoles
a la reine (however you say them) part on the bottom on the inside of the half round,
let them project a little above the rim in order to steady the second half round.” So this is going to sort of hold the top in
place. “Then place the half round with the large
opening like a cup on the small piece of paste.” I guess it does look like a cup and saucer
there. “The moment you are going to serve it fill
the bottom with cream a la chantilly flavoured with vanilla and fine sugar; taking care that
the cream is raised in a pyramid above the edge of the half round on the top of which
you put some fine strawberries.” “Place the second half round on top of the
first.” Now apparently you are supposed to use that
hole to fill it with even more cream but there is already more than a litre of cream in this
so I’m not going to whip up any more. I am just going to do the last step which
is to add one more meringue on top to hide the hole. Look at that magnificent creation! Now all we need is some friends to eat it. Woahhhh! That’s huge! The recipe says: “When it is served the top
of the meringue should be taken off and be broken and a piece of it handed round with
a spoonful of the cream.” Everyone’s favourites were the custard filled
cakes a la duchesse, the almond wafers and the meringue with cream and strawberries. As I suspected the confectioners paste was
too solid to eat, you just couldn’t bite into it. So it is basically there just for the structure
of the piece. Click here to see more 200 year old dessert
recipes, here for my latest video and here to subscribe to How To Cook That. There is a link below to the how to cook that
merch we have some specials on this week so make sure you go and check that out. Make it a great week and I’ll see you on Friday.

100 thoughts on “Wedding Cake Recipe from 200 years ago | How To Cook That Ann Reardon

  1. To pronounce duchesse properly in French, it's easier thanks to English insult on the French's behalf.

    The insult douche, or it's bag, is the word shower in French, but, adding ess from essence at the end would make duchess.

    À la duchess would mean "to the dutchess" so replacing the French word for the English is also acceptable in this close proximity

    I cannot help with the other term as I could not see it written.

    À la Renée was said quite nice. É or ée is pronounced more like an "a" sound or Canadian "Eh?" Sound, but still really good.

  2. Between this and the cheesecake I was thinking of how BIG these recipes are (the cheesecake had so much milk alone), and then realized it's probably because people in those days only had stuff like this if they were either rich, or at a rich person's party (meal courses might have had something to do with it too but idek…). Plus the more vague instructions make sense when you take into account that in those cases, the recipes would be for the head chef or someone like that, probably?

    I was wondering if it was translated right as you got to it lmao

    watching you struggle with that knife was TERRIFYING, i legit thought this cake was gonna murder you

    I'm really impressed at how this came out (the yellow lighting in the product shot looks a lot like those 50's cookbooks lol) and really, just really incredible to watch.

  3. Soooo you lost me with the math… I’m sitting here like I don’t know what the hell she talking about. 😂 As far as I got was Algebra… 🤷🏽‍♀️ I’m really impressed though.

  4. Let's talk 5 min about the incredible amount of work she puts into this recipe! That's stunning, so much effort, but at least your family and friends liked it! That's by far the most complicated cake I've ever seen I'd kill myself way before the end I think ^^

  5. I know this post is old and you probably wont see my comment but i just discovered your channel. This made my heart so happy, watching you prepare this wedding cake step by step with such care. I had such a smile on my face the whole time. Thank you for putting me in such a good frame of mind

  6. You should do "I modernize a wedding cake from 200 years ago. " I think that would be rlly cool and you would have some great ideas on how to make this wedding cake
    siper cool but also preserving the ideas of people a long time ago!

  7. "They would have, of course, been doing this by hand. I, however, will use my stand mixer"

  8. Maybe 200 yrs ago weighing things was different? Or he like… used certain bowls to measure the weight, but not actually weighing it? Just assuming that each thing would weigh the same if it fills the same sized bowl?

  9. It could be this ridiculous cake (my opinion of the Aristocracy not our dear Anne Reardon) had deliberate flaws in the printed recipe as a way to protect the chef's value. Those days recipes were not shared as a "you can do this at home too" and also a chef reading this recipe would use it as a base and put his personal expertise when making this…thing.
    The original chef protected himself from becoming obsolete especially if someone following said recipe could not make it well thus you'd need an 'expert'. Plus zhey are French auuh!
    Overall Anne you did wonderfully deciphering those old cookbooks is usually more trouble than they are worth although I will say the American Colony cookbooks are more direct to follow…aka; Less snotty and something to learn from, with less eggs too!

  10. Amazing , Wow I havent seen a Historical Cake like that ever been made ! Incredible cake . I want to try to make a Vegan one in my Mind . Those wafers w the pistachios looked like a treat to venture to try to make ) The Chantilly Creme with Strawberries n those wafers I would dipping into too . Im wanting Marizpan too with this cake ( my Favourite ) . Was it really delicious n worth it ,
    n what would You have done differently or would You be a purest to the Original French recipe ….. Definitely inspirational,
    I m not really knowing my History , He married Josephine N the Waterloo was in the mix there ??
    ……. I remembering that song from ABBA ) Thanks for Sharing Your amazing Cake adventure ..

  11. Imagine this guy who made this cake must have been crazy talented and he did it all without any of our modern conveniences.
    Only respect.

  12. Everyone’s an expert on old French cooking, apparently (thanks to google)….😂😂 I love that you did this!!👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  13. Wow ! Wonderful! I am into healthy protein cakes recipes and desserts, but when you see those amazing pastries it would be a sin not to indulge. This is worth all the calories and sugar. Miam!

  14. So glad I found this video…I inherited a 156 year old chest from my great great grandmother that had eggs and flour in it. The cake turned out wonderful, and I know that great great grandma is looking down from heaven happy that I made a 200 year old cake recipe with original ingredients.

  15. WHY CANT I SUBSCRIBE?!? I’ve clicked the subscribe button multiple times, but when I go to the next video I’m not subscribed anymore 😩😩😩

  16. So even 200 years ago publishers put out cookbooks that wouldn't actually work because testing the recipes would be too much effort and eat into the profits.

  17. You said you couldn't imagine those puff pastries with jam filling, but now that is all I can imagine. I'm going to make that, thanks for sharing the recipe.

  18. They were probably using goose eggs, very good for baking and the equivalent of 2 to 3 chicken eggs depending on the size of the eggs

  19. Okay but yeah, the 10 year old was actually (in theory- well my theory) pretty smart? Maybe, no, he couldn't do math at all, but was an amazing natural Baker who really and honestly didn't need the recipes. So he wrote out random recipes just using the same ingredients so it was plausible. Then, now he's not only an amazing Baker, but the only one who could even DO those recipes so now he's important too- because no one else can get his recipes to come out right.

  20. I just discovered this channel and I’m LOVING it. I love to bake when I have time and I’m so excited to see what I can try!

  21. Me:is french

    Also me:hears Ann struggle on how to say duchesse

    And also, me:"i would rly want to say to her how to say it, but, it's too hard to explain it to someone who does not speak french…

  22. Your 200 year olds recipe is soooooo veryyy educational . I loved it !

    Youtube please let me give this like a thousand times .

  23. After reading a lot of comments…if anyone could work out the old French measurements and maybe Ann could try again? That’d be awesome.

    Edit: also, I watched Oversimplified’s vids on the French Revolution, and I should’ve realized immediately why things were a little off, having learned, a mere hour ago, lol, about their measurements changing.

  24. In the US, the meat would often have been venison, or any wild game, including rabbit. It was leftover bits and would have been cooked ahead, not raw. Dried fruits would be used as they have preservative qualities. Over the top of the jar, some fat would have been melted and used to seal the top of the jar to keep bacteria at bay. It would have been placed in a root cellar for use during the winter months (mincemeat is never eaten in hot months, only in the cold months). The root cellar and weather would have insured the meat was kept at a cool temperature not unlike the temperature of a modern fridge, probably around 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler. It was not uncommon to use different meats with slightly different preparation in the seasoning to pair better with the meat. Venison would have used perhaps stronger herbs and spices (sage, marjoram, bay), as would boar, or bear, whereas rabbit would have probably used milder/sweeter spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Always dried fruits with the possible exception of apples which would have been cooked, but those too may have varied perhaps dried cherries and raisins in with venison, and currants and prunes with boar for example. Of course this all depended on what was available. Some hard apple cider or whisky may also have been used as a preservative as well in the mince before sealing up with fat. When ready to cook, the fat would be skimmed off and if it had gone bad, would be served to the hogs, but if still good, may have been used for another purpose, such as oil for lamp or to grease skis or sleds. Nothing went to waste!

  25. Here we are, 200 years later, casually eating a desert some chef of a royal family would have put his whole life into in order to please said family.
    Ah, capitalism.

  26. You are my hero I love love love baking but I am absolutely terrible at it. Examples: I burnt sugar on a baking sheet so bad that I had to throw it away. Also I once made banana nut bread and used walnuts my mom had in the fridge it came out wonderful except the walnuts had some shells in it and because I ground them down smaller it jut put shells everywhere in my bread my husband being as kind as he is ate 2 pieces saying oh no it’s ok lol I threw it out too crunchy for me lol.

  27. Due to the fact that France had just adopted metric system, I think some errors of conversion from metric to british system of measure could be possible :p

  28. The sizes of eggs varied much, especial region to region. And, sometimes they meant duck eggs which are considerably larger.

  29. I'm thinking that maybe the confectioners paste was intended to be dunked in a drink, like tea, to be softened up and eaten? Though don't take me on that since I am not very educated in French history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *