Ok, usually Saturday is reserved for a movie and a cupcake but with the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic just around the corner, I thought I would pay homage to the doomed ocean liner and her passengers by recommending a recipe that was actually served onboard.
For those handful of people who didn't see James Cameron's movie, the Titanic sank on the evening of April 14, 1912. The great ship was a tragedy of epic proportions and has long been an interest of mine. I'm a fan of early 20th century culture, as some know, but I'm especially drawn to the relics of the ship. Long ago, a museum here in my town hosted a traveling show that displayed pieces salvaged from the wreck. There were pieces of the china service, delicate personal possessions like spectacles and brushes. Things that it seems hard to believe actually survived, but there they were, big as life, reminders of what happens when we boast that things cannot sink.
Long about the time that the mega movie came out, you couldn't go anywhere without seeing something related to Titanic in shop windows. It was then that I found a book titled "Last Dinner on the Titanic", by Rich Archbold and Dana McCauley. At the time, I bought it because I wanted to see the reproductions of the menu and photographs from the ship. Now, I keep it because I'm interested in historical recipes.
And so, that is a very long way of saying that I have the menu and recipes for the voyage. Rather than post a fancy recipe from the first class restaurants, I thought I'd give a humble one from third class. The authors provide a menu that lists what a third class diner might have enjoyed during the voyage. One dinner (lunch) consisted of vegetable soup, roasted pork with sage and pearl onions, green peas, boiled potatoes, plum pudding with sweet sauce, cabin biscuits and oranges. Tea time later that day would have been a ragout of beef with potatoes and pickles, currant buns, fresh bread and butter, apricots and tea.
So, if you can stand to watch the scene of Leo and Kate on the helm of the ship one more time (let along hear Celine Dion), pop out the dvd and pop these buns in the oven.
Currant Buns (from Last Dinner on the Titanic)
1/4 c lukewarm water
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 c warm milk
1/4 c melted butter
1/2 c currants
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp water
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine warm water and 1 tablespoon of the sugar; sprinkle yeast over top. Let it stand 10 minutes or until frothy.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, blend together remaining sugar, flour, and salt. In small bowl, whisk together milk, butter, eggs. Stir in yeast mixture until combined.
Make well in dry ingredients; using wooden spoon, stir in yeast mixture until soft dough forms. Turn out on to lightly floured board. Knead until 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.
Transfer dough to large greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for one hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down; turn out onto floured surface; knead in currants. Shape into a 12 inch long log. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces.
Roll pieces of dough into smooth, seamless balls. Place buns on greased baking sheet leaving about 2 inches between each bun. Cover loosely and let rest for 30 minutes.
Bake in 400 degree F over for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Stir together icing sugar and water; brush over warm buns; let cool on rack. Makes 12 buns.
*Photo of Titanic, taken April 2, 1912, found at Archives.gov.
Saturday, April 12, 2008