Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hedgehogs

This hedgehog has a sweet almond paste body with slivered blanched almonds for the spikes.  The original receipt from Hannah Glasse, 1777 and my modern interpretation is below.  Also a description of hedgehogs as "timid, shy and stupid" and yet it was their attacker who became "fatigued with fruitless attempts to annoy it" and left. 1822
Two other dishes prepared in the shape of a hedgehog were a "tipsey cake after the fashion of a hedgehog…”  [The London Quarterly Review. 1837] and a “Savoy Cake to imitate a Hedgehog.”  [Parkinson, Eleanor.  The Complete Confectioner. Phila: 1844]

Modern Interpretation
The original recipe, from Hannah Glasse, 1777, is below.  For a quarter sized portion: pound half a pound of almonds with a sprinkle of orange flower water and sweet white wine in a mortar or use almond flour. (I've never used prepared marzipan/almond paste but perhaps that may work).  Add 2 whole eggs and 1 yolk, 1/2 C cream, 1/4 C melted butter, and 1/4 C or more sugar.  Place the pan over coals, the fire or stove on low heat and stir constantly until it thickens enough to hold a shape.  Form into the shape of a hedgehog and add slivered almonds for the bristles and currants for the eyes.

Hedgehogs in the hedges
The real hedgehogs are small animals, which are able to roll themselves into a pricklely ball for a very successful means of protection. Eighteenth century writers commented that hedgehogs were "timid, shy and stupid" and yet it was their attacker who became "fatigued with fruitless attempts to annoy it" and left.  [The image is from John Wood's The Illustrated Natural History: Mammalia.  London: 1865]

“While other creatures trust to their force, their cunning, or their swiftness, this animal, destitute of all… As soon as it perceives itself attacked, it withdraws all its vulnerable parts, rolls itself into a ball, and presents nothing but its defensive thorns to the enemy

… the animal begins to bend its back, to lay its head upon its breast, to shut its eyes, to roll down the skin of its sides towards the legs, to draw these up, and lastly, to tuck them in every side, by drawing the skin still closer.  Thus rolled up in a lump, it patiently waits till its enemy passes by, or is fatigued with fruitless attempts to annoy it.

The hedgehog, like most other wild animals, sleeps by day, and ventures out by night. It generally resides in small thickets, in hedges, or in ditches covered with bushes: there it makes a hole of about six or eight inches deep, and lies well wrapped up, in moss, grass, or leaves. Its food is roots, fruits, worms, and insects.”
Goldsmith, Oliver. A History of the Earth and Animated Nature. London: 1822 

To make a Hedge-Hog.   Hannah Glasse
TAKE two pounds of sweet almonds blanched, beat them well in a mortar, with a little canary [sweet white wine from the Spanish Canary Islands] and orange-flower water, to keep them from oiling. Make them into a stiff paste, then beat in the yolks of twelve eggs, leave out five of the whites, put to it a pint of cream, sweeten it with sugar, put in half a pound of sweet butter melted, set it on a furnace or slow fire, and keep continually stirring till it is stiff enough to be made into the form of a hedge-hog, then slick it full of blanched almonds slit, and stuck up like the bristles of a hedgehog, then put it into a dish.

Take a pint of cream, and the yolks of four eggs beat up, and mix with the cream: sweeten to your palate, and keep them Stirring over a slow fire all the time till it is hot, then pour it into your dish round the hedgehog ; let it stand till it is cold, and serve it up.

Or you may make a fine hartshorn-jelly, and pour into the dish, which will look very pretty. You may eat wine and sugar with it, or eat it without.

Or cold cream sweetened, with a glass of white wine in it, and the juice of a Seville orange, and pour it into the dish. It will be pretty for change.

This is a pretty side-dish at a second course, or in the middle for supper, or in a grand desert. Plump two currants for the eyes.
Glasse, Hannah. The Art of Cookery: Made Plain and Easy. London: 1777

Savoy Cake to imitate a Hedgehog.
Bake a cake in a mould of that form; blanch some Valentia or Jordan almonds; cut them into small fillets and stick them over the surface, to form the quills or prickles of the hog.  Put in two currants for the eyes.
Parkinson, Eleanor. The Complete Confectioner, Pastry-cook, and Baker. Phila: 1844

©2012 Patricia Bixler Reber
hearthcook.com

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