Today is the centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, the worst industrial accident in New York City's history; 146 very young women and men lost their lives when flames engulfed their workspace. (Read more about it in Richard Chesnoff's excellent article
in the Huffington Post.)
Hundreds of events to commemorate the tragedy were scheduled throughout the country and my place of employ, Henry Street Settlement
, hosted a tea and reception last Sunday to honor the victims and to celebrate the progressive reforms (worker's rights, workplace safety, and more) that emerged from the fire's ashes.
The Triangle Tea and Reception featured talks by historian Joyce Mendelsohn and Vivian Sorenson, granddaughter of a Triangle employee; Liz Magnes
on the piano, playing period music; and (since I was involved) a spread of refreshments all typical of 1911 and curated by historic gastronomist Sarah Lohman
In 1911, Henry Street was18 years old, and the very population (southern and eastern European immigrants) that perished in the fire were the agency's first clients. We wanted to honor that history, in part, by recreating some of what existed in 1911, including serving the type of food eaten in the Settlement's dining rooms and in the tenement apartments of the new immigrants.
We served two savory dishes, deviled eggs and cheese & anchovy sandwiches, and two desserts, bundt kuchen and brownies with coffee frosting. All were made from recipes in the c. 1915 edition of the Settlement Cook Book, originally published by a settlement house in Milwaukee in 1901.
The bundt kuchen, flavored with lemon and nutmeg, was delicious and typical of the time -- short on sugar and butter, and raised with yeast.
|The yeast mixture, ready to add to the batter.|
|The batter barely fills the pan when it's first put in.|
|After an hour or more of rising, it's ready to bake.|
|The cut cake, beautifully plated by Sarah Lohman.|
The "brownies" are really tiny cupcakes, meant to be baked in the gem pans popular at the turn of the 20th century, but I found mini-muffin pans worked just fine. Again, typical of the era, they used (compared to today) a very small amount of chocolate and were not overly sweet. The coffee frosting took them to a new level.
Because I made so many, I found it much more efficient to use a pasty bag to pipe the batter into the pans. They baked in about 9 or 10 minutes.
|Guests enjoy the spread in Henry Street's historic dining room. |Set the yeast with a cup of the flour and the milk and let rise in warm place. Then proceed with the following: Beat the butter to a cream, add the sugar, eggs one at a time, rind of a lemon, a little grated nutmeg. Now add the yeast and the remaining flour; a little more if desired. Have pan well greased. Place dough in pan let rise very light and bake 45 to 60 minutes in a moderately hot oven.
1 square melted chocolate Mix flour and soda. Cream butter and sugar; add egg, chocolate and the milk alternately with the flour mixture. Grease small timbale moulds; place one teaspoon full of the mixture in each and bake in a moderate oven 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 60 little cakes. Frost with Coffee Filling.
4 tablespoons strong black coffee Cream butter and sugar together, add the coffee and vanilla, and lastly the cocoa.