Today I visited the brand new Guelph Museum and had hoped to find a recipe in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book with a connection to that city. Pablum was invented there but there aren’t any baby food or even gruel or porridge recipes in the cook book. There was a pickle company but it isn’t the best time of year to make pickles. Therefore I’ve decided to make something quick and best of all I get to use my new bake board again. I am making Mrs. H. Oswald’s Light Tea Biscuit (p. 10) recipe. Actually I am making a 1/2 batch of light tea biscuits.
I sifted 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder together, and then rubbed 3/4 tablespoons of butter into the flour. I opted to use butter instead of lard. It took about 5 tablespoons of milk to reach the correct texture of dough. Remember that sweet milk simply means fresh milk rather than sour milk. I rolled the dough out and cut with a cookie cutter. I ended up with eight large tea biscuits and one little one. I brushed some with milk and then baked them all in a 375 degree F. oven for 10 minutes.
Mrs. H. Oswald is Emma Catherine Jacobi who married Henry Oswald a clerk in a dry goods store. In the 1901 census they have two sons but the next year they have a daughter too. They are identified as Lutheran and of German heritage in the 1911 census. They are living on Frances street and the oldest boy is working as a cutter in a shirt factory. The other boy is a student in the Collegiate (a secondary school that is still operating). The little girl is simply listed as a pupil in a school and as usual women like Emma have “occupation none” which of course means they were busy at home taking care of a family and probably very involved in their church and community as well. Today is International Women’s Day and it is good to remember that at least in 2012 we wouldn’t say a parent at home had no occupation.
Mrs. Oswald’s Light Tea Biscuit recipe makes a very nice tea biscuit. The crinkle edge or scallop edge adds a little more interest to the look of the biscuit and makes some fun crunchy edges. Some tea biscuits have a strong soda or baking powder taste but these are fine, in fact they are a little bland but they go very well with other things. I tried it warm with butter and then later with some jam – very good! The biscuits with a milk wash had a softer top than those without. I personally liked the plain tops but it is an individual choice. This is a good recipe for beginner cooks since from start to finish (using a modern stove) they were ready in about 20 minutes.
LIGHT TEA BISCUIT
3 cups flour, 3 even teaspoons baking powder sifted twice in flour, rub 1 1/2 tablespoons lard or butter well through the floor [sic]. Stir in sweet milk enough to make a soft dough, put on baking board and mix a little, roll out 1 inch in thickness, cut with escalloped cake cutter, wash top of biscuits with milk or egg. Bake in quick oven.