Monday, January 17, 2011

A Birthday Feast for General Robert E. Lee

January 19, Wednesday, is General Robert E. Lee’s birthday. I’m giving y’all these recipes today so that you’ll have time to go to the store, and otherwise get your act together.

I got this cake recipe from someone on the internet years ago, and I have shamefully forgotten who she was, but I did manage to save almost all of her text and have included as much as possible:

Robert E. Lee Cake
FOR THE LEMON SPONGE CAKE: 8 egg yolks -- beaten 8 egg whites -- stiffly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest -- grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups White Lily Flour
salt to taste
4 egg yolks -- beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest -- grated
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 pinch salt
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated coconut
2 tablespoons sugar
1 oz softened cream cheese

Make separately and then combine a lemon sponge cake, lemon curd, and coconut cream. First let's talk about making Lemon sponge cake for the first ingredient. You want to beat eight egg yolks until they are as light as a Virginia dawn. Add 2 cups of sugar in slow Southern style whilst beating the yolks into a thick mess. You then beat in 2 tsp.of grated lemon zest and 2 tbs. of lemon juice. Sift 2 cups of flour and salt together per taste. Afterwards, you sprinkle the flour over the egg yolks and fold lightly until smooth as a Georgia accent. You then beat the egg whites until stiff as Southern resistance to Yankee aggression and fold in nicely. Divide the lovely (tasty--I know) batter between 2 buttered and floured cake pans. Bake in an oven preheated to 325 degrees F. for 25 minutes. Check to see that the layers are golden brown and lightly pull away from the sides. Remove to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before turning out.

Now we're ready to make the lemon curd. Beat 4 egg yolks with 3/4 c. of sugar, 1 Ttb. grated lemon zest 1/3 cup lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Using a double boiler for that purpose, place the ingredients over simmering water and stir frequently until thickened. Remove from heat and then add 6 tb. butter a bit at a time. You are then ready to split the sponge cake into layers and stack the curd in between the layers. You then spread the top with coconut cream, letting it drip deliciously down the sides. Here's how to make some coconut cream.

Having refrigerated the lemon-orange curd and the cake, you can wash your double boiler to make use of it again. Stir in 1 c. heavy cream, 1/4 c. grated coconut, 1 tb. plus 2 tsp. sugar, and salt together in the double boiler's top and heat over simmering water for 20 minutes. Cool cream over ice water---you want it really cold. Try infusing the cream the day before, and refrigerating overnight. Whip the cream, and when it begins to thicken, add the cream cheese. This will stabilize the cream. Continue to beat until you have soft peaks You can then drip the coconut cream over the cake. This recipe will feed 12 polite eaters at a Marse Robert dinner party.

General Lee’s favorite meal was smothered chicken. We like the recipe for Country Captain found in the lovely old cookbook, “Charleston Receipts”. . We have this wonderful dish with fresh hot biscuits, rice, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, and fig preserves. After readings of Father Ryan's "Sword of Lee", and Donald Davidson's "Lee in the Mountains", and a short narrative of his career, accompanied by stirring music of the time, serve the General's favourite dessert with good coffee. [unless we buy unroasted beans, we always use Community Coffee, every day. They’re Southern.] Then toast the Sword of Virginia with good Bourbon and end the evening with Southron songs, and toasts.

Country Captain (from “Charleston Receipts)
This will feed a dozen: I usually fix half:

1 bunch parsely (chopped)
4 green peppers (chopped)
2 large onions (chopped)
1 (No. 2 ½ ) can tomatoes
1 teaspoon mace
2 teaspoons curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic (chopped)
2 fryers cut up
Paprika and flour
1 cup currants
Cooked white rice
½ pound blanched almonds

Fry parsley, peppers and onions in oil slowly for 15 minutes. Put mixture in roaster and add tomatoes, spices, salt and pepper. Simmer 15 minutes, then add garlic. Dredge Chicken in flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Fry till brown and lay in the sauce and cook at 275 F in covered roaster for 1.5 to 2 hours. Add currants ½ hour before serving. Arrange rice on platter, pour sauce over and the place chicken on top. Sprinkle with toasted almonds.


abld said...

Oh, won't John be surprised if I can somehow pull this cake off for him on Wednesday?! :)

romanreb said...

It's not near as hard as it looks, Dear. Just remember when you fold in the whites, divide them in thirds. Stir in the first third to soften the other mixture. Lightly fold in the second third, then, while it is still marble-y, fold in the last.

Love you!