A kind of biscuit, judging on the section it’s in.

Put 1/2 pt. Warm milk to 3/4 lbs of flour, mix in it 2 spoonfuls of light yeast, cover it up and set it before the fire an hour in order to raise, work into it 4 ounces each of sugar and butter, make it into cakes with as little flour as possible. Bake quickly.

(You can find the original recipe in the facsimile copy reproduced in Tom Kelchner’s new book The Story of the 1881 Cumberland Valley Cook and General Recipe Book)

What is light yeast? Is this maybe a sourdough starter kind of thing? Did they have granulated yeast back then like we do now? The amount of yeast can be critical in a recipe, so you bet I’m going to google this one. After a few fruitless and probably too specific searches, I tried “What did old recipes use for yeast” and Stack Exchange tells me it’s a common substitution to use 1/3 as much dry yeast as an old-fashioned recipe calls for. Sure, I will try that conversion. 2/3 spoonful of instant yeast, then. 

The dough seems reasonable. I couldn’t see adding any more flour, unlike a certain cake which shall not be mentioned again. I kneaded the dough for about seven minutes and let it rest.

I creamed the butter and sugar together, then mixed it with the dough by hand. It mixed up sort of…granular? It was easy to work with and shape into cakes. I put raisins in half the dough because we have a raisin-lover in the family. 

“Bake quickly” means a hot oven. I baked these at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. They got a little dark on the bottom so I flipped them over during cooking.

Reviews: “Really good with raisins”

Rating 2/5. The wiggs were fine.  They were actually good with the raisins in, far better than the plain buns. However, it is not even in my top five yeast breads with raisins. It was rather dense, crumbly, and sweeter than I thought it would be. Perhaps it needed more yeast? Or I should not have creamed the butter and sugar together like that?  The whole recipe reminded me of someone who had heard of the concept of “brioche” —distantly, like through a game of telephone— but somehow managed to turn it into something completely different.

– Rachael Zuch of Zuch Design

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