fressing [Yiddish], eating for the pure joy, obsession and love of it.
When I think about the meaning of fressing, I feel I have been practising this concept for much of my life. I believe food is something that should always be enjoyed. Food and the recipes that accompany it play a large role in our lives. Apart from being sustenance, food can bring people together, be the centre of a celebration, be a comfort, and become an heirloom.
The concept of fressing and the importance of food is strikingly clear when one looks at the two books produced by The Monday Morning Cooking Club. Both books provide wonderful recipes and focus on the people behind the food and the recipes. It is obvious that food and cooking has and continues to play an important role in the lives of all who have been involved in these books. Through the act of sharing these recipes we are shown how food has brought joy, been loved and fuelled obsessions.
The six women who make up The Monday Morning Cooking Club have focused on the idea of recipes being heirlooms, and have a strong desire to preserve recipes that would otherwise be lost if not written down. Through the act of sharing these many recipes, we have been allowed into the lives and kitchens of the curators and contributors of these books. This in turn, preserves these family recipes, and places these cherished family memories into a collective heirloom in which anyone can share.
At a recent BakeClub event, I was able to see three of The Monday Morning Cooking Club in action. Baking recipes from their books, but also speaking about The Monday Morning Cooking Club process, evolution and the idea of ‘heirloom baking’. Despite the original book idea being around fundraising for charity, the project had delved into preserving recipes from their community. The concept of recipes as heirlooms is firmly entrenched in The Monday Morning Cooking Club collective and one can only feel privileged that so many families personal food memories and heirlooms, have been shared.
After attending the Monday Morning Cooking Club event at Bake Club, and tasting their amazing food, I decided to attempt the Custard Chiffon. When I first tasted it, it was so light, spongey and sweet. It was pure joy. To me, it also exemplified the notions of fressing and heirloom baking and I hope they don’t mind me sharing this wonderful recipe here.
For this recipe you will need an angel cake tin with a removable base. It is also a great idea to find a bottle whose neck will fit into the centre of the tin. You will need this to invert the cake on after it has finished baking. The whole process might seem a bit strange and involved, however the effort put into this cake really pays off.
175 g self-raising flour
35 g custard powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
6 eggs (large), separated
345 g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
170 ml warm water
80 ml vegetable oil
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Have your angel cake tin ready and nearby but do not grease it. The tin should not be a non-stick tin as the cake needs to cling to the sides of the tin as it cooks.
In a small-medium bowl, sift the flour, custard powder and cream of tartar three times.
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with 1 cup of the total sugar, until pale and creamy. If you have a free standing mixer with a paddle attachment, use this attachment for the egg yolks and save the whisk for later. Once pale and creamy, add the vanilla. Place the oil and water in a jug and along with the sifted flour mixture, add to the yolk mixture while the mixer is beating on a low speed. Beat only until just combined.
Using a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites using an electric mixer until soft peaks have formed. Add the remaining sugar, and whisk until the peaks are stiff (but not dry).
Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites with a metal spoon. Continue to gently fold until the mixtures are just combined. Do not over mix.
Transfer the mixture to the cake tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Immediately upon removing the cake from the oven you must invert the cake (stand it upside down). Using the hollow centre of the cake tin, place the cake upside down on the neck of a bottle and leave to cool. This process will stop the cake collapsing. This is also the reason for not greasing the tin, as you don’t want the cake to slide out at this stage. If the cake is under baked, it may also slide out at this stage! So be sure it is fully cooked before removing from the oven.
Once the cake is completely cool, use a small serrated knife to cut the cake out of the tin. Start with the outer sides then lift the cake out using the bottom of the pan. Then carefully cut the cake off the base of the tin.
To serve, sprinkle with icing sugar if desired.
Original Recipe from ‘The Monday Morning Cooking Club’ by Merelyn Frank Chalmers, Natanya Eskin, Lauren Fink, Lisa Goldberg, Paula Horwitz and Jacqui Israel, p.35 (2011).
Originally Posted July 5, 2014.