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GUEST,Anne Croucher Origins: Short'nin' Bread (68* d) RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread 09 Dec 04

My mother used to sing 'Momma's little baby love, shortnin shortnin, Momma's little baby love short-en-in bread'. She only ever sang the chorus as far as I can remember, and that when she was baking.

Perhaps she heard it from American servicemen over in England during WWII. She was born in 1927 or 29 - depending how old she felt.

Shortening is an old fashioned word for fat.

Short crust pastry - although in many recipe books is made with butter, or these days margerine, in my family it is made half and half butter and lard. The more fat to flour the shorter the pastry.

English Lardy cake is a truely artery hardening food - if you believe the medical profession. It is bread dough (1 lb)layered with 6 oz of lard, 6 oz of mixed dried fruit, 2 oz of mixed peel and 6 oz of sugar. When the dough had done the first rising to double its volume you roll it out and use one third of the other ingredients, spread the (warmed) lard and press in the fruit over two thirds of it, then fold the unspread third over and then over again - making a double sandwich. Do that twice more but do not roll it out the last time. Put it in a square tin, press down gently and leave to rise for half an hour. Bake at 475degrees Farenheit for 45 minutes, leave to cool until handlable, flick onto a plate and cut it if you are feeling civillised, otherwise tear into big sticky pieces and devour.

There are still folk tales and at least one song I know of English people being sent to America and sold to work on farms - handy way to get rid of unwanted villagers particularly when the poor laws were introduced. In Scotland the people could be driven off the land - but in England with its feudal inheritance people were bound to their parish. Of course England could not supply enough labour and Africa was willing to sell its people - but there would be quite a few unwilling Americans with memories af an English upbringing and yeast risen cakes full of fat and sugar.

By the way, hokey pokey is the stuff Italians(mostly) used to sell in the streets - it is frozen custard, pre-cursor of ice cream.


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