Monday, July 15, 2019

Spongati, Spongada, Spumante - meringue in ice cream

The "very light form of whipped" ice cream was popular in Italy, but less known in the UK.    Francatelli, chef to Queen Victoria, included several recipes in one of his books The Modern Cook, and suggested "the rich variety" of flavors "for the second course."

It's buoyancy, like Sponge Cakes, came from egg whites and according to one book the Italian word spumante meant "frothing" (not to be confused with the sparkling wine or Spumoni ice cream).  Confusedly, Spongati was also the name for "Italian Christmas Cakes" from Jarrin's 1820 book, see at end of post.

The following are a few recipes and comments from 1846 to 1899. The egg whites could be whipped into a meringue or simply "broken up with a fork."  Other ice cream recipes occasionally used egg whites instead of yolks (cooked custard then frozen) but did not use any variant of the name Spongati.

Francatelli  1846
These spongadi are well qualified to form a rich variety of iced-puddings for the second course, and are capable of being greatly varied by introducing different kinds of flavouring; such as all kinds of liqueurs, essences, or pounded sugar impregnated with orange, lemon, vanilla, orange-flowers, cinnamon, bitter almonds, &c., &c. The body of the ice may also be altered by using purées of different kinds of fruits, instead of the milk of almonds or the purée of pistachios.

INGREDIENTS —One pint of clarified syrup, six ounces of dissolved chocolate, a table-spoonful of vanilla sugar, an equal quantity of cinnamon sugar, four ounces of shred pistachios, two ounces of Diavolini, or ginger comfits, six whites of eggs.

Mix the syrup, dissolved chocolate, the whites of eggs (previously broken up with a fork in a basin), the vanilla and cinnamon sugars; and, when these are well mixed together, let them be strained through a sieve, and poured into the freezing-pot, previously set with ice, &c., in a pail for the purpose. Next, let the freezing pot be worked or twirled round with the left hand, while the spongada is being at the same time worked with a spatula held in the right hand, bearing in mind that this method of working the ice, while it is being frozen, is requisite, in order to facilitate the addition of the fixed air, necessary to promote its lightness, and by means of which its volume is thus increased twofold. When the spongada has become firm, and at the same time light, the ginger comfits and the shred pistachios should be lightly mixed in with it; and immediately after, let the spongada be moulded in any kind of iced-pudding-mould; and after it has been properly immersed in rough ice prepared in the usual way, for about three hours, let the spongada be carefully turned out upon a napkin and served for a second-course remove.

FIRST, line a spherical iced-pudding-mould with some apricotwater-ice, about the third of an inch thick; and then fill the cavity with the following preparation:—

First, scald and then peel eight ounces of pistachios and one ounce of bitter almonds, and pound these into a smooth paste in a mortar, adding, by degrees, a gill of water; and when thoroughly pounded, rub the produce through a tammy. Next, let the purée of pistachios be placed in a basin with a pint of syrup, a table-spoonful of orange-flowerwater, ditto of spinach-green, and six whites of eggs that have been pressed through a tammy for the purpose; mix well together, and poured the preparation into a ready-prepared freezing-pot, proceed immediately to work it as directed in the former cases; and when finished, use it to fill the bombe-shell; which, being completed, and the mould being effectually closed, must be immersed in ice for three hours previously to its being turned out for table.  [Francatelli]

Fuller Freezing Machine and 1851 Manual with recipes

No. 27. Punch Water Ice, alia Romana, or Spongato.
To make this Granite Ice, it must not be too much frozen for drinking, put rum, or any wine or liqueur you choose, to the same proportion as lemonade, No. 3, To make it Spongato you must freeze it more and add meringue paste. With twelve ounces of the juice of every fruit you may make liquid Ice for drinking, add rum at discretion.  [Fuller]

No. 7. For Ice Spongati  
When you make Ice Spongati you must not fill the machine more than two thirds, and when it is almost frozen put in meringue paste, and stir and work it well.  [Fuller]

The spongada is a very light form of whipped cream ice, common in Italy, but seldom, if ever, seen in this country, save when it is occasionally used to fill up a mould lined with ordinary cream or water ice.  Besides these there is the parfait, which is very much the same as the spongada, only frozen a little more stiffly, the latter being more like frozen froth, whence its other name of spumante or foaming. ...

The spongada is another form of ice, somewhat of the nature of a parfait, but not frozen so hard, and seldom, if ever, moulded nowadays. Indeed, it is too light to mould properly, and, when not served separately in cups or glasses, is generally used as a centre for some other mould. In some rare cases it is frozen sufficiently stiff to mould, but in that case it is more like an ordinary moulded ice or parfait.

The old-fashioned freezing pot is generally used in the preparation of this form of ice. The method of its making is as follows: Having prepared the mixture, it is strained into the charged freezer, which is then covered down and turned sharply and steadily for a few minutes till it begins to thicken; now take off the cover, and give it another turn or two uncovered, easing the ice as it forms, with a spatula, from the bottom and sides of the pot; as soon as it thickens stop turning, and with the spatula work it well up from the bottom, till the cream is quite soft and light and fully double its original bulk, when you add a little flavouring and sweetening syrup, if necessary, and serve at once, either in glasses, or with a moulded ice, as preferred.

The distinctive mark of this kind of ice is its frothy lightness, whence comes its name, and also the appellation of spumante, or frothing, given to it in Italy, where it is mostly served.

Needless to say, it is susceptible of almost endless variety, according to the use to which it is to be put. It is particularly delicious if shred almonds are added to it lightly, especially when used in conjunction with a cream or water ice set in a square or oval border mould. It is occasionally used as a filling for bombes or melon shapes.

Spongada alia Romana.—Dissolve 6oz. of fine vanilla chocolate and put it into a basin with a pint of good sugar syrup, the whites of six eggs (lightly broken up, but not beaten, with a fork), and a tablespoonful each of vanilla and cinnamon sugars; mix these all well together, then strain the whole through a sieve into the freezing pot, and work it as described above till it has increased to nearly twice the original bulk, when you dish it and stand it in the ice cave for two or three hours till wanted.

Spongada alia Toledo.—Pound 8oz. of sweet and 2oz. of bitter almonds with half a pint of water, and wring it through a tammy to express all the juice possible; there should be half a pint of this (known in kitchen parlance as "milk of almonds "), then mix this milk with a pint of strong sugar syrup, the whites of six eggs, and a wineglassful of kirsch; strain it into the freezing pot, and work as in the preceding recipe, to twice its original bulk, when you add to it 6oz. of roughly chopped burnt almonds and half a pint of whipped cream, and finish freezing as before. Another way is to make a puree of the same quantity of almonds by pounding them when blanched, with about a gill of water, and rubbing this all through a sieve or tammy; you now mix this with the egg whites and the syrup as before, flavouring it with a good tablespoonful of orange flower water, and colouring it to a pretty pistachio green with vegetable colouring; finish as in the preceding recipe, adding to it some blanched and chopped pistachios. These make a delicious centre for any sort of ice; for instance, fill a strawberry water, ice-lined plain or egg-shaped mould with the spongada alia Toledo, close it up and freeze for three hours or so; or make the spongada by the second almond recipe, using blanched pistachios instead of the sweet almonds; line a melon or any nice shaped mould an inch thick with cherry or raspberry water ice, and fill up with the green spongada, and finish as before.

Coffee Spongada.—Have ready half a pint of black Mocha coffee, in which you have dissolved 4oz. to 8oz. of sugar (this is a matter of taste), and when cold stir into it a gill of unwhipped egg whites and a quart of stiffly whipped cream, run it through a sieve into the freezer, and proceed as directed above, adding just before serving a little more sugar syrup and a glassful of cognac, and finish off.

Apricot Spongada. — Peel and stone sufficient apricots to produce, when sieved, one and a quarter pints of pulp, add to it the whites of six unwhipped eggs, and one and a quarter pints of sugar syrup, boiled to 38 degrees, strain it all into the freezing pot, and add just at the last a good liqueur-glassful of noyeau and sugar syrup, or simply use noyeau syrup. Finish off in the usual way.

Any very finely sieved fruit pulp can be used in this way.

Maraschino Spongada.—Dissolve 10oz. of sugar in a quart of whipped cream, and when quite melted stir to it the whites of enough eggs to fill a gill, and half a pint of maraschino; strain into the freezer and proceed as before, adding a little more maraschino at the last. Any liqueur can be used in this way; curacoa, for instance, is very good thus, but the cream should be faintly tinted with saffron or apricot yellow.

Strawberry Spongada.—Stalk a quart of strawberries, and sprinkle them well with 3oz. or 4oz. of caster sugar, then crush them through a fine sieve. Have ready a syrup made by boiling together 4oz. of loaf sugar and half a pint of water for twenty minutes, and beat this into the strawberry pulp for five minutes, working it over ice; then stir in quickly and lightly the frothed whites of four eggs and a pint of stiffly whipped cream, and freeze in the usual way. This is not, strictly speaking, a spongada, though it goes by that name.

As a matter of fact, a clever cook can prepare these frothy ices with any flavourings or purees to taste, but they are not altogether easy to make successfully, and take too much time and trouble for the average cook; so it is unnecessary to multiply recipes for spongadas in this book, which is primarily intended for the average household, and not for one which can afford to keep a first-rate chef with many assistants ; while, if the cook likes, and can succeed in these ices, the above hints will be sufficient to enable her to vary their nature indefinitely. [Queen]

Spongati - "Italian Christmas Cakes"

"Spongata - An Italian Minced Pie in Georgian London"  from Ivan Day's blog, included a picture of a Spongate seller from 1691 and recipes from Jarrin’s 1820 The Italian Confectioner

Egg whites in ice creams

Coffee Ice.  [only 1 out of 19 Abbot recipes had egg whites]
To four whites of eggs, put three ounces of sugar, three quarters of a pint of cream, and an ounce of whole coffee; boil it all till it thickens, then pass it through a sieve for freezing.
Abbot, Robert.  The Housekeeper’s Valuable Present. London: c1790

Recipes from

Beaty-Pownall, S.  The “Queen” Cookery Books.  No. 2  London: 1899, 1902 
Francatelli, Charles Elme.  The Modern Cook.  11th  London: 1846
Fuller, William.  A Manual: containing original recipes for preparing ices … Fuller’s Neopolitan Freezing Machine.  London: 1851

Print: John Bull and his family at an ice cafe. 1815  (Newcastle University)

©2019 Patricia Bixler Reber
Researching Food History HOME

No comments:

Post a Comment