Some Modest Desserts

historic recipe for syllabub

by Rachel Hertzberg, Bryn Mawr Student and Wyck’s Summer 2018 Collections Intern

In the previous blog post, we looked at some ways that beef, pork, and veal were prepared in the early 19th century.  Now we will move on to dessert, examining a few of the baked goods and confections from Jane Bowne Haines’s recipe book (or “receipt book,” as it was called at the time).  Many of her recipes can be traced back to traditional treats from the British Isles.  Not overly sugary or fancy, these simple desserts reflect Jane’s modest sensibilities.

Whipped Syllabub

Although the origins of the word “syllabub” are obscure, we know it refers to a British sweet made of frothed milk.  Before wire whisks were popular, bakers beat air into their batters with tools such as porcupine quills or bundles of twigs. Jane’s version of syllabub seems to be a sort of sweetened and flavored whipped cream, perfect to conclude a summer meal.

historic recipe for syllabub

A pint of cream sweetened with loaf sugar, ½ a pint of wine, the juice of a lemon, the white of one egg. Whip it with quills and as the froth rises put it in your glasses.

Almond Cream

This almond cream is reduced over heat, rather than whipped, to form a custard-like consistency.  The term “loaf sugar” in Jane’s recipes is just another name for white granulated sugar.

almond cream historic recipe1 quart of cream sweetened agreeably with loaf sugar.  Then take 1 lb of blanched almonds, pound them in a mortar of marble with a few drops of rose water.  Stir them into the cream, put it over the fire stirring it till it thickens. Then strain it through a sieve.

Soft Gingerbread

Jane also included a recipe for “crisp gingerbread” in her collection; both the crisp version and this soft cakey version are flavored with ginger root and molasses.  As usual, we have only the sparsest of directions.  The reader is left to her own devices to determine the proper baking dish, temperature, and cooking time.

gingerbread recipeA pint bowl of sugar, the same quantity of butter, of molasses, of milk, 4 eggs, a teaspoon full of pearl ash [salt], a cup of ginger, a few cloves, and flour sufficient to make it stiff as pound cake.

Raised Plumb Cake

Plum (or plumb) cake was an earlier name for what we now call fruitcake, a British favorite which appears everywhere from novels like “A Christmas Carol” to nursery rhymes like “Little Jack Horner.”  In previous centuries, “plum” was a catch-all word for any kind of dried fruit. In this recipe, the dried currants are not related to the fresh fruit by the same name, but rather were a particular variety of raisins, made from tiny black grapes.

Raised Plumb CakeBeat 1 lb of butter and 1 ½ of sugar together.  Then add 3 lb of soft raised bread [flour], 6 eggs, a glass of brandy. 1 lb of raisins, the same of currants, and nutmeg and cloves to your taste.

Dough Nuts

Because Jane doesn’t specify how to shape these doughnuts, we don’t know if she would have fried them as spheres or formed them into rings.  We do know that the iconic ring-shaped doughnuts were developed in the mid-1800s; according to legend, it was a sea captain who first decided to punch holes in doughnuts in order to speed up the cooking time.

doughnuts historic recipe Take 8 lb of flour, 1 ½ of sugar, 1 lb of butter, 3 ½ pints of milk, ginger, orange peel or cinnamon, a large tea cup full of yeast. Warm the milk to mix them and keep them near the fire to rise.

To Roast a Pig

roast pig recipe

by Rachel Hertzberg, Bryn Mawr student and Wyck’s Summer 2018 Collections Intern

Jane Bowne Haines is remembered today as a student of horticulture and the creator of Wyck’s rose garden. While the garden is the most prominent part of her legacy, Jane also impacted many other aspects of domestic life at Wyck.  For example, her recipe book, which she kept from approximately 1810 to 1840, was passed down through the generations, a living document which other family members and descendants added to, amended, and copied.  The compact, densely-filled little notebook is a treasure trove of culinary history.

None of Jane’s recipes could be called easy or simple. Even keeping in mind that the cooking was completed with the help of a team of servants, one can’t help but be impressed by the foresight that had to go into preparing a single meal. Many recipes require several days’ time, as well as physical exertion that must have been quite strenuous in the days before food processors and electric mixers. Reading Jane’s recipes reminds the modern history student that food has always been the result of significant labor. Although that labor tends to be invisible today, performed by total strangers in distant factory farms, processing plants, and orchards, we continue to depend on it for our sustenance.

Bologna Sausage

Long before the start of DIY culture and the farm-to-table movement, ordinary people found ways to produce the things they needed, entirely from scratch. This recipe takes for granted that the reader will have cows’ intestines in the pantry to use as casing, and assumes a basic knowledge of pickling and charcuterie methods!bologna sausage recipe

Chop very fine 10 lbs of the round of beef and cut into small pieces 2 ½ lbs of pork. Add ¼ oz cloves, ¼ oz mace, 1 oz pepper. Mix all well together and put them into Beef entrails. Then put them in ham–Pickle for 5 days. Smoke them + hang them in a dry place.

Calf’s Foot Jelly

When this recirecipe for Calf's foot jellyperecipe continued was written, a craving for jelly couldn’t be satisfied by a packet of dry mix from the jello packet. Jane’s recipe for “Calf’s Foot Jelly” describes the process of obtaining a gelatinous stock from boiled calves’ feet, which was then flavored and sweetened before cooling. This might make us feel a little squeamish nowadays, in our more sanitized culture. At the same time, we can admire Jane’s matter-of-factness and her commitment to using the entire animal.

Take 4 feet, split them open, and lay them in weak salt and water for 4 or 5 hours.  Then wash them clean and boil them in 6 quarts of water down to 5 pints, pour it through a cullender and skim off all the fat.  Set it away to cool and when the jelly is perfectly stiff, if any fat arises scrape it off with a knife & wipe it off with a dry cloth. Cut it in pieces from the bottom of the dish, and pare off all the discolored parts.  Put it in your preserving kettle and add to it sugar, wine, lemon peel and juice, mace and cinnamon agreeably to your taste, then pour in the whites and shells of 4 eggs well beaten.  Put it over the fire and give it a good boil, pour it [in] the jelly bag until it is very clear.  Then wet your moulds and let it run in.

To Roast a Pig

Could you imagine roasting a pig on a spit in your kitchen, let alone mincing its brains to make a sauce? Jane wouldn’t have found this strange, judging by the breezy, casual way she wrote this recipe. It would probably take at least eight hours, if not 10 or 12 hours, to roast the pig. During this time, someone would have to tend to it at least once every half hour, washing it with butter and drippings to make sure the meat didn’t get dried out.

Let the pig be well washed in several waters, dry the inside with a coarse cloth.  Then make a stuffing of bread, pepper, salt, sage, and cayenne, a large piece of butter, mix two yolks of eggs with it. Put it in the belly of the pig and sew it up very tight.  Then spit it and wash it well with salt and water until it gets warm; for the sauce you must take the insides of the pig, and boil them. Mince them up very fine with the brains then add melted butter.  And a little sage, salt, and pepper.  Keep the pig covered with flour till the eyes drop out. Then baste it with butter to make the skin crisp.

roast pig recipe

A Rose by Any Other Name…

by Rachel Hertzberg, Bryn Mawr student and Wyck’s Summer 2018 Collections Internpink roses

Wyck is famous for its beautiful rose garden. When in full bloom, the flowers are a delight for the senses: colorful, fragrant, and delicate. But long before Wyck’s heritage garden was planted, roses were more than just beautiful to observe. They had many practical uses as well. Hannah Marshall Haines, who married into the family in 1725, kept a “receipt book,” or a recipe book, that shows how she incorporated roses into her housekeeping.

Otto of Roses

Otto of Roses is another name for rose oil, a sweet-smelling perfume. The word “otto” comes from the Persian word atr, meaning “essence” or “perfume”. In a recipe dating from between 1810 and 1830, Hannah describes extracting Otto of Roses through a method of water distillation that took up to a week to complete. Hannah must have been enchanted by the heavenly scent of the perfume, as she was willing to undertake such a laborious process to obtain it.

otto of roses


A large glazed earthen or stone jar, or a clean wooden cash [referring to a chest or box, like a cash-box] must be filled with the leaves of the rose flowers, corolla [the inner petals], which should be previously be carefully freed from all stalks, seeds, or dirt.

On the leaves pure spring water must be poured until they are covered. The vessel must be set in the sun from sunrise till sunset, when it should be taken in for the night. This must be continued for seven days, in succession. In 3 or 4 days after the first exposure, a number of particles of oily matter of a fine yellow color will be observed to float on the surface, and in 2 or 3 days more, that matter will form into a scum [a floating layer] which is the Otto of roses.

It can be taken up by some cotton tied to the end of a stick, and squeezed with the finger and thumb, into a small phial which should be well stopped. This must be repeated, till all the Essential Oil, which floats on the surface is removed.

By this simple, unexpensive process, may be obtained by almost every family as much of this exquisite essence as may be necessary for use. It is at least worth the trial, and I am sure when that trial is made, the success will be more than an equivalent for the labor.

In the following two recipes, Hannah calls for rosewater to add a subtle floral note to baked goods. Although rosewater can be quite strong on its own, after baking it becomes more mellow, similar to other flavors Hannah used, such as orange blossom water and brandy. As you can see, Hannah gives a list of ingredients and some minimal instructions, but she did not generally record the specifics of her baking techniques. This is much less detailed than most modern cookbooks, suggesting that young girls at Wyck would have learned baking techniques by observation, rather than needing them to be written down.

Cup Cake

This “cup cake” recipe does not exactly match our modern day ideas of adorable miniature cakes topped with mounds of buttercream frosting. Rather, early cup cake recipes were based on cup measurements, just as pound cakes were based on ingredients measured in pounds.

cup cake

Take five cups of flour, 3 of sugar, one & half of butter, ½ cream, wine, brandy or rose water, 3 eggs, a little nutmeg, a small teaspoonful dissolved pearl ash [salt].  Bake in green cake pans or as a pound cake. Add, if you choose, a few currants.


Jumbles, cookies flavored with rosewater or other aromatics, first appeared in the 17th century, but were popularized in the United States in the 19th century. Jumbles were shaped into pretzel-like knot, and as we see in Hannah’s recipe, heavily sweetened with sugar.


One pound of flour. Half lb butter, ¾ sugar rubbed well together, the whites of 3 eggs. Half a glass rose water, and half a grated nutmeg. Roll them well with sugar.



Meet Tess!

Tess Frydman headshot
Tess Frydman headshot
Tess Frydman, Director of Interpretation and Public Outreach

by Kim Calvert, La Salle University student and Wyck’s Summer 2018 Communication Intern

August 9, 2018

Wyck is happy to welcome Tess Frydman as our new Director of Interpretation and Public Outreach!  Tess is so excited to be working at Wyck, since her dream has always been to work at a historic site.  Tess’ passion with history started when she was very young; she was very interested in her family history, and that her grandfather was a Holocaust survivor.  Tess has always had a fascination with how history shapes the present.  She is most interested in cultural history, the daily life and how people made do with what they had, and the fact that history has not one narrative but a million different stories to discover.

Tess is a recent graduate of the Winterthur program at the University of Delaware, which has strong connections with Wyck. She also graduated from Smith College with a major in American Studies, a minor in History, and a concentration in Museum Studies. Tess has experience as a Museum Guide at Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library; Museum Educator at the Kansas Museum of History; Teaching Assistant and Collections and Interpretation Intern at The University of Delaware and Newcastle Historical Society; and as Educational Programmer at Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area. This experience working with the public and implementing successful programs has well prepared Tess for her role at Wyck.

Additionally, Tess has worked on some impressive projects such as the Delaware Abandoned Cultural Property Legislation, Fall Fundraising Event Proposal for Watkins Historical Society, Museum S.W.A.T, Upstate Historical Tour, and Object Pamphlets for Potential Use in the Winterthur Museum Galleries.  She is excited that her projects at Wyck will allow her to dip her toes into fundraising and give her new responsibilities, such as communicating with vendors and working with several board committees. She is looking forward to working on the digitization of the collections, along with the important process of understanding the scope and uniqueness of our collection’s holdings here at Wyck.

Tess said that there are similarities and differences in working at her previous jobs and working at Wyck. For similarities, she said that she has the same tasks with preservation and collection management, as well as reaching out to the community in order for the historic sites to stay relevant. What is different is the sense that she gets to work IN the historic house and not in an office. She is constantly seeing the living spaces of the residents, which makes it a very active on-sight job.

“It was perfect timing to have this position open up when it did.  After I was shown the collections it was hard to walk away from,” Tess said.

Wyck and Tess are both so happy to have her here. Tess is thrilled about the potential of the collections and “the opportunity that one doesn’t get at most places: to learn about historic life-ways here at Wyck”.  You can meet Tess at Philadelphia Honey Fest on September 8th at Wyck!


It’s a Winner!

by Rachel Hertzberg, Bryn Mawr Student and Wyck’s Summer 2018 Collections Intern

In the 19th century, the piano-forte became the most fashionable form of home entertainment. Gathering in the parlor to listen to music represented the cohesion and closeness of the Victorian family unit. Wyck has a stack of piano sheet music that belonged to Jane Bowne Haines II and her brother Diedrich Jansen Haines in the 1880s and 90s. The variety of music, including Scottish folk songs, selections from the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, and waltzes by Chopin, indicates the family’s broad range of interests. A book meant to teach children the basics of piano playing, suggests that this was a pastime for the whole family. We can see the penciled-in notes regarding tempo and other technical details; these objects were made to be used, and they were clearly well-loved. Researchers will also appreciate the gorgeous cover art on many of these music books.


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One Wyck music book with a connection to an odd piece of history is “An Old Wife’s Love,” published in 1886 by the company Sep. Winner & Son. This book contains the song “A Wife’s Love Song,” which describes a woman’s grief at being separated from her husband. Septimus Winner was an extremely popular Philadelphia composer and music publisher, prolific for over fifty years. He wrote songs such as “The Mockingbird” and “What is Home Without a Mother?” which became nearly ubiquitous in American homes. His popularity came with its share of controversy. During the Civil War, Winner wrote the song “Give Us Back Our Old Commander: Little Mac, the People’s Pride” in response to the removal of General George McClellan by President Lincoln. McClellan’s strategic failures on the battlefield earned him the president’s disapproval, but he retained considerable support among the public, even mounting his own presidential campaign two years later. Winner’s 1902 New York Times obituary describes the effect of his pro-McClellan song:

Fifty thousand copies were quickly sold in Washington and a few days afterward 100,000 soldiers sang the song while marching along the Rappahannock on their way to Fredericksburg, when disastrous defeat overtook them. ‘Give Us Back Our Old Commander’ could be heard at night from one end of the Union lines to the other, and at Chancellorsville, where [General Joseph] Hooker displayed his inability to cope successfully with Lee, it was sung with renewed vigor.

But at this point the commotion created by the song reached the climax when the War Department issued an order suppressing its sale and prohibiting the singing of it. The Government, however, did not stop at this, for Julia Mortimer, one of the greatest of American singers, who was then filling an engagement at Ford’s Theatre, was informed that imprisonment awaited her if she persisted in making the objectionable song a part of her role. Actors in Baltimore were enjoined by the Government from singing it in theatres.

About this time an agent of the Government waited on Mr. Winner, who conducted a music store at Eighth and Spring Garden Streets, and informed him that further publication of the song would not be tolerated by the Government, and a refusal to comply with the demand meant imprisonment in Fort Lafayette. No additional copies of ‘Give Us Back Our Old Commander’ were placed on the market. To Mr. Winner there was nothing treasonable in this musical thought, so pleasing to the ear and so characteristic in expression, and it was not intended there should be.

Despite the accusations of treason (some sources claim Winner was arrested, while his obituary makes it seem like he was just given a warning), Winner continued to run many successful business ventures, and by 1886, when “A Wife’s Love Song” was published, he was running a music publishing firm with his son J. Gibson Winner. Winner moved around considerably during this period. As mentioned in the obituary, he operated from several addresses on and around Spring Garden Street throughout the 1870s and 1880s, including 545 North 8th Street.  Also found at Wyck is the front cover of “Royal March,” composed by Winner in 1876.


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The “Good Old Days of Mud”


by Rachel Hertzberg, Bryn Mawr student and Wyck’s Summer 2018 Collections Intern

bootscraperSome of Wyck’s most interesting historical artifacts are right underfoot, and may well go unnoticed.  Iron boot scrapers gained popularity in 18th and 19th century Europe as a way to wipe off one’s shoes before entering a building.  Historians conjecture that the appearance of these objects coincided with a cultural shift that encouraged walking rather than riding in carriages; as cities became more pedestrian-friendly, people needed a way to deal with dirtier shoes.  The pair of boot scrapers on display just inside Wyck’s from door are charmingly decorated with griffins, and date from around the late 1700’s.  At that time, the streets outside the house, especially Germantown Ave., would have been filled with garbage and waste.  The scrapers are affixed inside shallow trays which would have been filled with water, and a sponge was always kept nearby for guests’ convenience.

We don’t know exactly how old these scrapers are, but one family descendant, Caspar Wistar Haines II, provided a little bit of family lore in 1927.  Caspar moved to Wyck upon his retirement, during which time he and his sister Jane frequently opened up the house to tourists.  When a reporter asked him about the scrapers, Caspar said he wasn’t sure where they had originated, only that they had been in the family since “the good old days of mud.” These words illuminate some of Caspar’s good humor and humility, and remind us that while the history of political movements or great leaders might be more celebrated, the day-to-day lives of ordinary people, mud and all, can be just as important.

Chairs for Children

children's high chair

Taking a Little Seat

by Rachel Hertzberg, Bryn Mawr student and Wyck’s Collections Intern, Summer 2018

In most upper-class American homes in the 18th and 19th centuries, children lived totally separate lives from their parents. They were cared for by servants and ate their meals in the nursery. The adage “Children should be seen and not heard” ruled the day. In Quaker households, however, children were integrated into family life; the Quaker belief in equality applied even to the youngest of the community. Children at Wyck took their meals alongside adults and all family members read, conversed, and relaxed together in the parlor. We see evidence of children’s participation in life at Wyck in the many children’s chairs throughout the house.

children's dderback chair
Children’s Ladderback Chair, c. 1730’s

This tiny chair is known as a ladderback, a simple style that can be traced to medieval Europe and remains popular to the present day. The carved details at the top of the chair, known as ring and ball finials, are one example of the fine craftsmanship that was prized even in a chair for a young child. This particular chair was custom-made for Richard Wistar who was a toddler at Wyck around the 1730s. Originally painted green, it was known affectionately as “the Wistar throne” and was used by many subsequent generations.

This diminutive chair has an interesting connection to another piece housed at Wyck. As an adult, Richard Wistar suffered from gout and so once again had a custom-made chair, this one enormous to accommodate his swollen legs.


children's high chair
High chair, left with adult chair, right, c. 1812

We get a glimpse into the daily lives of Reuben Haines III and Jane Bowne Haines by delving into the history of this adorable high chair. When the two were married in 1812, Reuben purchased a set of formal dining room chairs made of maple and rush, with latticed backs from local “fancy chair manufacturers” Hayden & Steward. A year later, the birth of their daughter Sarah warranted a return trip to get a matching high chair, for which the family paid $3.75. Reuben, or perhaps his mother Hannah, also purchased a small child’s chair for Sarah, costing $1.00. As with other children’s chairs in the house, the beautiful craftsmanship that was devoted to Sarah’s chairs differs only a little from that of the adults’ chairs, reflecting the equality of children and adults.

Photo credit:  Rachel Hertzberg

An Old Lantern and a Mawrter Mystery

Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin logo
Bryn Mawr lantern
photo from Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin

Fall 2017 – Mariel Rosati ’08 knew there was a connection between her employer, Wyck House in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, and Bryn Mawr: former residents Jane Bowne Haines and Mary Troth Haines graduated in 1891 and 1914, respectively, and family descendant Margaret Howell Bacon was from the class of 1918.

Plus, the College was represented in its collection of more than 10,000 objects saved by the family over nine generations, including notes and papers from Jane’s student days. And after a bit of sleuthing, Rosati found a lantern tucked away on the third floor. “I instantly knew it was a Bryn Mawr lantern,” she says.

Read more about the lantern mystery here: