A recent note from reader, friend, and encourager, JudyAnn Lorenz brought out things that I do research and plot when writing a story. Even though some of those details do not make it to the final draft. Telling you the bright pieces in the characters’ lives is my job! Their clothing, homes, food, pets, and culture are the ‘everything’ of their lives. Imaginary stops existing; the characters come to LIFE for me and for the final story through these details.
JudyAnn wrote that reading The Devereaux Jewel set her off on a search for foods that might have been served at home in those times. Some items on the menu were old friends using a different name. Others were not appealing at all. I would hope that the Cold Oven Buttermilk Cake would be a favorite at the Devereaux table!
Writing for readers keeps me going into the world of words every day! I love to hear from readers…especially when they enjoy and have fun with the stories. I hope this post about a letter from JudyAnn will encourage other readers to write to me about their adventure while reading my novels.
Welcome Writing From Readers
I enjoy your stories — they are wholesome pleasure reading with historical bits that intrigue me. I like your descriptions of clothes, country, foods, gardens and culture. The stories always stimulate my curiosity to learn more. Often I look up some styles or recipes of the era.
After enjoying The Devereaux Jewel, I set off on a search for menus and foods that might have been enjoyed at the Devereaux farm. I drew the line at experimenting with ‘soused calves feet’. Although I did have to respect the ‘nose to tail’ processes that wasted nothing. With that due respect, I didn’t choose to make soused calves feet in my kitchen.
Let Them Eat Cake
I was a little put off by ‘frizzled beef’ till I found the recipe details. Frizzled is simply a creative name for dried beef gravy. Or good old browned ground beef gravy.
I confess I wanted something a little more imaginative. Something sweet, pretty and creative. In the past, I’ve played with Chocolate Potato Cake and Donegal Cream after reading your stories of Ireland. Is there any cake in the Devereaux house?
Cake and Cold Ovens
Cold Oven Buttermilk Pound Cake was the choice to try. We’re as pleased with this one as we were with the Chocolate Potato confection!
This unusual dessert ‘takes the cake for’ yummy and pretty! Its sweetness does indeed begin in a COLD oven. The oven is then set at a low temperature (approximately 325 degrees Fahrenheit.) to bake for an hour and 45 minutes!
My modern electric range gently baked the thick batter in the tube pan. The 19th century cook would have appreciated a tasty cake along with the lower baking temperature in summer. In winter, having a sweet cake in the oven for almost two hours would have made a comfortable, cozy kitchen!
Buttering Up for Buttermilk Cake
I know the buttermilk that might have been used in the Devereaux kitchen would probably be the translucent, low fat liquid left in the churn after butter has turned. I don’t make butter these days and sadly have no ‘true’ buttermilk.
However, I do culture buttermilk (not low fat) for our household. The Cold Oven Buttermilk Pound Cake was made with the cultured buttermilk, plus 1/3 cup of plain kefir. I added the extra fluid kefir because my buttermilk culture is quite thick while my kefir culture is much thinner in texture. By the way, if one doesn’t have access to buttermilk, kefir makes an excellent substitute.
Add a Little Spice to Cake and Life
A touch of nutmeg or lemon zest makes a totally different cake when choosing flavorings. The cake ‘keeps’ beautifully on the counter. I’m running some tests about how long it will keep; there would have been only a cool spring-house possibility for the 19th century kitchen. After three days in a cake-saver, the cake was even better than the first slice.
Good Details and Good Stories
A lovely combination for our reading and eating pleasure. I’m looking forward to the release of your next novel. Plus some fine cultural suggestions for food, fashions and life in another time or place.
Your friend and loyal reader, JudyAnn Lorenz
Again, I welcome messages and contact on Facebook from readers. JudyAnn blogs about my novels and other inspirational authors’ work at Cardinal Bluff. You can learn more about the books I have available for you to read at my Amazon author page, Joy Ross Davis at Amazon