Receipt book of Margaret Baker, ca. 1675

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Manuscript Location
Folger Shakespeare Library, Manuscripts
Place of Origin
Date of Composition
ca. 1675
This receipt book of 137 leaves (approximately 260 written pages) appears to be a single hand, presumably that Margaret Baker, whose ownership inscription appears on leaf ii. Most of the recipes written through leaf 56v are medical, as are all on leaves 57r through 79r (which are numbered 1 to 112). The recipes from leaf 80 to the end are mixed. Two other receipt books compiled by Margaret Baker, ca. 1650, are now in the collection of the British Library (Sloane MS 2485 and Sloane MS 2486).

Culinary recipes include preparations for meats (especially sausages, including two "after ye Bolognia fation" on leaf 53r), "To make ffrench ffrittrs" (sweetened, spiced beignets, rolled and cut and fried in clarified butter, leaf 35), "To make veriuce of grapes" (leaf 94v), and "To make the Anchovian spratts" (leaf 98r). There are also recipes for puddings, custards, large cakes, small dessert cakes and biskets, and dessert creams. A possibly unique recipe "To make a delicate pudding with only a loafe of whyte bread" appears on leaf 28r. The recipe calls for cutting the crust off a stale loaf, soaking the loaf in cold water for an hour, and then boiling it in a pudding bag for an hour. The pudding is served with melted butter and sugar. "The Lady Northumberlands Furmitie" (leaf 117v) is the sweet dish more commonly called barley cream by the late seventeenth century. There is a rare and illuminating recipe "To make Runnett for Cheese" (leaf 120r) that entails putting up the stomach "bag" in an infusion of hawthorn buds, cowslips, and mace.

The medical recipes comprise a range of ointments, powders, salves, and cordials for a variety of illnesses and complaints. The recipes include "a preservative against the plague" (leaf 24r); "A medisen for one that cannot hold theyr water in there sleape" (leaf 67); a  goose-down plaster "for the canker in a womans breste" (leaf 68v); "A plaister for ye goutt or ache in ye ioynts, wher wth ye lord Ro. Rich was cured, when all ye churgions thought him to be vnecuereable" (leaf 75r); several versions of a balm attributed to Matthew Lucatelli (leaves 1v-2v, 76r, 115v); and "Sir Walter Rallyes pille" (leaf 17v). A number of recipes relate to headaches, convulsions, etc. There are notes and remedies for "phrensie" (leaf 22r-23r), a recipe for a poultice headed "It is good to comfort ye brayne and takes a way aney payne of the head" (leaf 37r), a medicine "for ye megrome & ye impostam of ye head" (leaf 64v), and another "For convolchen fetts in yong Children" (leaf 102r).  Some of the remedies closely resemble ones in Hannah Woolley's The accomplisht ladys delight in preserving, physick and cookery (1675).

There are also recipes for black and red inks (leaf 100r), "To take out stayns or ink out of a linen Cloth" (leaf 38v), "To make blacke sere cloth" (leaf 54r), and a number of cosmetic recipes, including "To take away the freckles or morfew" (leaf 38r), "To make your hands white & softe" (leaf 86r), "a water to make ye face red" (leaf 97v), and "To keepe hare from fallinge & to make it grow thicke" (leaf 110r). Notes on measurements and alchemy appear at the end of the volume (leaves 133-134).