When the Protestant reformation hit England, the nation found that banning the Old Calendar and it’s Feast Days, left the people bereft of days to publicly celebrate. The Accession of Elizabeth to the throne – popularly known as Crownation Day (November 19th) was one of the first non-religious nationwide public holidays for England. Today I get notices of daily food celebration days, because it’s not just the food, it’s the ways……
So it seems that today is National Cheesecake Day. No doubt most are celebrating with something more along the lines of a New York style cheese cake, or perhaps Philadelphia style cheesecake, both of which include cream cheese. For our 17th Century English Housewife, cheesecake would indeed be for a special day, and would probably begin with milking the cow and her cheesecake would include fresh curds, spice and currents or raisins. No cream cheese.
Her cheesecake would also not be New York style, but more like an Italian Easter Pie.
To make Cheesecakes otherwayes.
Take a good morning milk cheese, or better, of some eight pound weight, stamp it in a mortar, and beat a pound of butter amongst it, and a pound of sugar, then mix with it beaten mace, two pound of currans well picked and washed, a penny manchet grated, or a pound of almonds blanched and beaten fine with rose-water, and some salt; then boil some cream, and thicken it with six or eight yolks of eggs, mixed with the other things, work them well together, and fill the cheesecakes, make the curd not too soft, and make the past of cold butter and water according to these forms.
- Robert May, The Accomplish’t Cook
Did you notice the EIGHT POUNDS of milk cheese? As well as a pound of butter? This is cheesecake for a crowd.