Baked Alaska - History of Baked Alaska
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Also known as omelette á la norvégienne, Norwegian omelette, omelette surprise, omelette norvegienne, and glace au four. Baked Alaska is ice cream encased in some sort of hot casing (pastry crust or meringue). Early versions of this dessert consisted of ice cream encased in a piping hot pastry crust. The later version consisting of ice cream on sponge cake covered with meringue and browned quickly in a hot oven. The creation of Baked Alaska is claimed as being created by many people, and popularized by many others.
Ice cream dishes frequently appeared in visitors' accounts of meals with Thomas Jefferson. From the web site The Home of Thomas Jefferson, one visitor reportedly commented:
1720 - The book, Larousse Gastronomique, by Prosper Montagné, says the following on the history of meringue:
1804 - Omellete surprise, which is virtually identical to Baked Alaska is said to have been first invented by an American-born physicist named Benjamin Thompson Rumford (1753-1814), later known as Count Rumford. An American Loyalist in the Revolution in Boston, it is said that he served as a spy and informant for the British Army. He was forced to flee from America to England 1776.
He had an interest in cooking and he invented the fire-grate, a double boiler, an oil lamp, a coffee percolator (drip), and the kitchen range. As a result of his interest in investigating the resistance of beaten egg whites to heat, which is based on the principle that beaten egg white is a poor conductor of heat, a created a dessert that he called "omellete surprise." In The American Heritage Cookbook, Rumford is quoted as saying,
The technique of covering foods with meringue and then baking until the meringue is delicately browned seemed to have been a popular dessert technique during the middle 1850s.
1855 - The cookbook, The Philadelphia Houswife, by Aunt Mary (a pseud for Mary Hodgson) added a few fanciful French desserts as "Apples aux Pommes" and "Baked Alaska Applie Pie:"
1866 - The French food writer, Baron Leon Brise, wrote a column in the French Journal, Liberte, on June 6, 1866 which suggests the creation of the dessert, Baked Alaska, was introduced into France by French Chef Balzac. According to historians, the master-cook, accompanying a visiting Chinese delegation at the Grand Hotel in Paris, taught Balzac how to bake ice cream in a pastry crust in the oven. Following is what Baron Brise wrote:
1867 - Charles Ranhofer (1836-1899), the French chef at the famous Delmonico's restaurant in New York, created a new cake to celebrate the United States purchase of Alaska from the Russians. William H. Seward (1801-1872), a Senator from New York, negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia, and the bill was signed on October 18, 1867. This purchase was known as "Stewart's Folly" and/or "Stewart's Icebox." In Charles Ranhofer's 1893 cookbook, The Epicurean, he called it an Alaska, Florida, and makes it in individual portions.
It is possible that what Ranhofer deserves is the credit for popularizing an already known dessert.
1876 - Mary F. Henderson, in her book Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving, published in 1876, calls it "German Steamer Baked Ice-cream." She shows some familiarity with Delmonico's restaurant and gives a recipe for their vanilla ice cream. Following is how it is described:
1880 - George Augustus Henry Sala (1828-1895), British cookbook author and journalist, wrote the following on Baked Alaska after tasting it at Delmonico's restaurant in New York:
1894 - Agnes Marshall's 1894 book, Fancy Ices, has a recipe for an ice cream bombe, called "Princesse Marie de Orleans Surprise Bombe," with a meringue around the outside, seared with a hot salamander, that is similar to a Baked Alaska:
1895 - Jean Giroix, French chef at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, is also said to have made the dish popular. He called it omelette á la norvégienne or Norwegian omelet.
1896 - The name Baked Alaska, seems to have first appeared in print in the The Original Fannie Farmer 1896 Cookbook by Fannie Farmer. Following is how Fannie Farmer describes making a Baked Alaska:
Ice Cream and Ices
Ice Cream Cone
Ice Cream Sundae
A Day in the Life of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, The Home of Thomas Jefferson.
An 1802 Menu, by Lynne Belluscio, LeRoy PennySaver & News, January 14, 2002./font>
Baked Alaska and Rumford, The Oxford Companion to Food, ed. Alan Davidson, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Biography: Benjamin Thompson.
Boston Cookery Book, Chapter XXVI, Ices, Ice Creams, and other Frozen Desserts, by Fannie Farmer, Bartleby.com.
Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla: A History of American Ice Cream, by Ann Cooper Funderburg, Bowling Green State University Popular Press, Ohio, 1995.
Delmonico’s: A Century of Splendor, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967.
Food Reference Website.
Larousse Gastronomique: The Encyclopedia of Food, Wine & Cookery, by Prosper Montagne, Crown Pubishers, Inc., New York, 1961.
Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving. A Treatise Containing Practical Instructions in Cooking; in the Combination and Serving of Dishes; and in the Fashionable Modes of Entertaining at Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, Page 310, by Mary F. Henderson, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1876. - Feeding America: The American Cookbook Project.
Princess Marie d'Or1eans Surprise Bomb, by Ivan Day, Historic Food.
Rare Bits - Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, by Patricia Bunning Stevens, published by Ohio University Press, 1998.
The American Heritage Cookbook, by the Editors of American Heritage, published by American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1964.
The Art of Living in Australia: Together with Three Hundred Australian Cookery Recipes and Accessory Kitchen Information, by Philip E. Muskett and Mrs. H. Wicken, 1909.
The Delectable Past - The Joys of the Table - From Rome to the Renaissance, From Queen Elizabeth I to Mrs. Beeton, The Menus, The Manners - and the Most Delectable Recipes of the Past, Masterfully Re-created for Cooking and Enjoying Today, by Esther B. Aresty, Simon and Schuster, 1964.
The Dictionary of American Food & Drink, by John F. Mariani, Ticknor & Fields, New York, 1983.
The Epicurean, by Charles Ranhofer, Dover Publications, Inc. New York, unabridged and unaltered republication of the work originally published by R. Ranhofer, New York, in 1893.
The Man Huntington Loved to Hate: Loyalist Benjamin Thompson tried to keep the town under his boot.
The President's Cookbook, by Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks, published by Funk and Wagnallis, 1968.
World Policy Institute, Brilliant Mischief: The French on Anti-Americanism, Volume XX, No 2, Summer 2003.