Photo credit here - Fannie Merritt Farmer - pioneer of the North American measuring cup!
During a brief stay in the USA, I decided to carry out some research regarding 'female' cooks and food writers from a bygone era. And to my surprise, I discovered the celebrated American cook – Fannie Merritt Farmer who is, in fact, the perfect ‘nemesis’ to our English culinary marvel - Mrs Isabella Beeton!
As an ongoing project, I shall re-create recipes by jolly old Fannie Merritt Farmer, and document the results in my recipe section.
Fannie Merritt Farmer
Photo credit here - Fannie Merritt Farmer – circa 1900.
Good folk of the USA! Miss Windsor certainly hopes you’ve heard of your very own culinary goddess from yesteryear – the one and only – Fannie Merritt Farmer - if not, then shame on you!
On the 23rd March 1857 in Boston Massachusetts, Fannie entered this world, and coincidently, just so happens to be a fellow Zodiac Sign of Aries - just like Miss Windsor!
Now, moving swiftly on, Fannie Merritt Farmer is a celebrated culinary expert, teacher, lecturer, advocate of ‘scientific’ cookery and household management, author of six books, and pioneer of the North American measuring cups and spoons – Ooooh, what an inspiration!
Photo credit HERE - Fannie Farmer - Original 1896 Boston Cooking School Cook Book!
You see, Fannie popularised this revolutionary breakthrough, which made recipes easier to follow whether you’re a housewife, novice cook or a budding professional chef! So, whatever your rank in the kitchen, your efforts could stand an equal chance of producing a culinary masterpiece!
Darlings, now most shockingly, aged 16 Fannie suffered a Stroke, and as a result she suffered from a number of physical repercussions’. However, with sheer determination and grit, this did not deter her from reaching her goals and dreams in life.
Thus, in her early 30's Fannie enrolled in the Boston Cooking School and achieved excellence. Then following her graduation in 1889 Fannie served as assistant director; becoming school principal during the 1890's.
During Fannie’s appointment, fellow colleagues, pupils and friends ‘egged’ her on (translation: urged) so to speak! in order to prepare and publish her first book. So in 1896 Fannie rewrote The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, which was originally written by Mary J. Lincoln. Luckily, Miss Windsor’s a proud owner of the 1909 edition, which she purchased during her brief stay in the USA.
In fact, I had the pleasure of re-creating a bit of an oldie, yet classic teatime favourite - Fannie's GENUINE Sponge Cake. I say, perfect for a summer's day afternoon tea pageantry, or to be enjoyed with a cup of tea whilst perched on your veranda as you look over yonder - How pleasant!
You see, Fannie’s GENUINE Sponge Cake is prepared with many eggs, little flour, sugar, lemon juice, and without the aid of a raising agent ,“But what makes a sponge cake rise?” you utter! Well, according to Fannie’s easy to comprehend, scientific explanation, 'Is made light by the quantity of air beaten into both yolks and whites of eggs, and the expansion of that air in baking!' - Thank you, Fannie!
Darlings, there's one thing I must convey about Fannie’s first book - The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, is that she chose or maybe forgot! to provide cooking temperatures for many of her recipes' – Oh, dearie me!
Please see example below for Fannie's Golden Cake.
Of course, back in those days Fannie cooked using a ‘range cooker’ or a 'gas stove' at some point, and so may have experienced difficulty gaging the exact oven temperatures - who knows! But nevertheless, for each recipe one would’ve appreciated an indication of some sort – such as quick, moderate, or a hot oven would suffice.
Oh well, but thank goodness for my modern mentor: the jolly old internet, who often offers Miss Windsor a helping hand!
Now, moving on gracefully, in 1902 darling Fannie retired from the Boston Cooking School, and with housewives in mind (never mind professional cooks!) she founded Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery in Boston.
Image credit here - advert for Miss Farmer's School of Cookery.
Sadly, Fannie passed away on January 15th, 1915. But luckily for us, she leaves us with many words of wisdom, and famously quoted:
"I certainly feel that the time is not far distant when a knowledge of the principals of diet will be an essential part of one’s education. Then mankind will eat to live, will be able to do better mental and physical work, and disease will be less frequent"– Miss Windsor couldn't agree more!
Darlings, without a shadow of a doubt, Fannie's legacy will certainly live on and on. Therefore, the mastery of her work will be celebrated not only by Miss Windsor, but by fellow culinary enthusiasts all over the globe - Hear, hear!
So, if you fancy re-creating Fannie's recipe for GENUINE Sponge Cake, then please do click here.
Also, maybe you're eager to know more about darling Fannie? If so, there's no time to waste - just click on the image below for my rather spiffing article about Fannie Merritt Farmer.
Until next time,