Thursday, 29 October 2015

History Bakers - Fiery Gingerbread

To celebrate the Hull Fair and Bonfire Night season, for this month’s History Bakers, I thought it would be only fitting to make some gingerbread.

The old recipe books at the Hull History Centre contain several different recipes for gingerbread, but the winning recipe was taken from the Hotham Collection (ref. U DDHO/19/2) dating from around 1777. This particular recipe caught my eye as it was very different to the gingerbread recipes I had tried before as it contains black treacle, cream and brandy!

For such an old recipe, it was actually fairly detailed, with clear weights for each ingredient and a general method. However, I still had to estimate the oven temperature, cooking time and amount of flour, and so was particularly glad when they turned out so well!

If you would like to have a go yourself, please see the original recipe and a modernised version below.

Original recipe taken from U DDHO/19/2

Transcription: Take ½ lb of fresh butter, ½ a lb of fine sugar, 1 lb of treacle/warm the treacle in 3 or 4 spoonfuls of cream, ¼ of a pint of brandy, ¼ of an ounce of mace, 1 oz ¼ of ginger beat and sifted as much flour as will make a stiff paste – roll it in what shape you please and bake it upon tins. 

1. Pre-heat the oven to about 180C and grease over trays.
2. Take ½ lb of margarine or butter and ½ lb of caster sugar. Mix together and gently warm in a pan.
3. Add 1 lb of black treacle and warm on a low heat in four dessert spoonfuls of single cream, ¼ pint of brandy, ¼ oz of nutmeg and 1 ¼ oz of powdered ginger. 
4. Whisk, continuing over a low heat.
5. Once thoroughly mixed together, remove from heat and sift in as much flour as will make a stiff dough.
6. Roll out (to no more than 1cm thickness) and cut in whatever shape you would like.
7. Place in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your gingerbread. 

Gingerbread comes in all shapes and sizes!

Please see my colleagues’ comments below (we’re all becoming quite the food critics!):

Claire Fiery and lovely, taste of bonfire night!
Laura Cute gingerbread men, lovely strong treacle flavour, yum!
Mrs West         Delicious – How real gingerbread should taste...not too sweet!
Martin Very gingery! Full of flavour.
Carol                Not too much ginger for me – lovely.
Nick         The black treacle is very noticeable, strong flavour!
Elspeth Very enjoyable tangy taste of treacle. Not as sweet as bought gingerbread men today!
Elaine A strong taste of ginger. Really good!
Christine         A lovely mild gingerbread, and not too sweet
Pete         Very good gingery and full of flavour
Mike                 Fiery and fun, Perfect for Hull Fair week!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Hello from the new Transforming Archives Trainee, David Heelas

Hi, I'm David Heelas the new trainee at the Hull History Centre as a part of the Transforming Archives initiative from The National Archives, with a focus on digitisation and digital preservation. I mostly come from a Computer Science background and although originally a Hull local I got my BSc from Newcastle University. I have spent the last few years in a variety of jobs from being an Outbound Sales Advisor at a Call Centre (sorry) to most recently where I worked at a local charity as an Assistant IT Tutor.

This opportunity is very exciting to me because it will mean learning a lot about a career and environment I previously knew nothing about. I have always loved learning new skills, especially anything relating to technology. I have found it very interesting to see how new techniques and tools have affected archives and looking to see in what way they will impact further in the future.

My first week coincided with the DCDC15 (Discovering Collection Discovering Communities 2015) conference in Manchester which I was fortunate enough to attend. This allowed me to not only meet my fellow cohorts in the Transforming Archives programme but also meet some of those who had finished their traineeship from the previous year. The conference also gave me a much larger idea at how digitisation and digital technology have been utilised by Archives so far and in what way they’re looking to harness them in the future. The panels were varied and fascinating in particular the talk the Bodlean Digital Library Systems and Services gave about their digital front-end and how to provide a service that combines user accessibility with an end product that is both quick and useful. Additionally the panel on Technology and Mobile Heritage and how just because an institution creates an ‘app’ it doesn't mean that it will be used or even last particularly long, so that means that thinking carefully on your delivery system is going to be is more important than ever.

So far it has been a bit overwhelming although thanks to the team which I have found to be incredibly friendly and welcoming I think I’ll settle in no time. There is a lot more to archives then I initially suspected and as a result there’s a lot more for me to take in! I hope you will keep up with my posts in the future as I will be using the History Centre blog to update you throughout the year.

David Heelas
Transforming Archives Trainee (Cohort 2)

Friday, 9 October 2015

History Bakers - Quick Kuchen

The word ‘Kuchen’ is German for cake and it’s possible that there are as many variations as its English counterpart. The recipe I have chosen is a Streuselkuchen, which is a German speciality. Traditionally it is made of yeast dough covered with a sweet crumb topping referred to as streusel, but this variation has a sponge base. The recipe allegedly originated from Silesia, a province that is today in Western Poland, but the cake can now be found all over Europe. Many variants are prepared with fruit fillings, mostly of sour taste such as apples, gooseberries, sour cherries, and rhubarb.

Clearly there are many variations of the recipe and this particular one came from a souvenir recipe book called Our Favourite Recipes (Reference C DJC/1/7/2/1) put together by the Hull Daughters of Zion in 1965 to share recipes and raise funds for a ‘Jerusalem Baby Home’. Recipes in the book cover a whole array of dishes, including soups, fish dishes, Passover dishes, cakes and desserts, as well as including useful ‘Household Hints’.

I particularly wanted to choose a Jewish recipe for this month’s History Bakers as it ties in nicely with the launch of the exhibition Religion, Culture and History: The shaping of Hull’s Jewish Community, which will run until the end of October at the History Centre. I chose the ‘Quick Kuchen’ primarily as it is a traditional cake but most importantly because it is quick to make and the method simple to follow!

To make the kuchen:
2 ½ cups of self-raising flour
½ cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
¾ cup of milk
Handful of sultanas (I used raisins)

To make the streusel:
2 oz. flour
2 oz. butter
3 oz. sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
A few chopped almonds

To make the kuchen:
Beat up eggs, sugar and oil. Add flour, milk and sultanas. Put in greased tin, cover with streusel.

To make the streusel:
Sieve flour and cinnamon, mix in the sugar, then rub in the butter until like breadcrumbs and add a few chopped almonds. Sprinkle over kuchen.

Put into a cold oven. Turn on to no.3 and bake for 50 minutes.

Staff Comments:
Hannah: “Delicious mix of crunchy top and soft sponge, tasty!”
Caoimhe: “Absolutely scrummy - crunchy topping compliments the soft fruity and very light sponge - spot on!”
Claire: “Really nice - different textures make it interesting and delicious!”
Verity: “Beautiful sponge, great mix of textures.”
Michele: “A delicious light and fruity cake with a lovely crunchy topping.”
& Grace: “The crunch on the top of the sponge was a lovely touch as were the sultanas inside.”
Christine: “Loved the crunchy topping and the sultanas in the sponge gave a lovely touch of moisture.”
Pete: “Very very nice, tastes as a kuchen should.”

Overall the Quick Kuchen was definitely a hit! Why not have a go yourself and see what you think...

Laura Wilson
Archivist / Librarian

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

History Makers - Hull Fair Starts Early!

So Hull Fair is almost upon us and there are only a few days to go now! But for us here at the History Centre we started to get into the spirit early this year with our Hull Fair inspired History Makers event on Saturday 3 October.

We had an awesome turn out this month with 85 in attendance and hopefully everyone enjoyed it, the staff certainly did! With lots of help from everyone who attended we managed to make the best fairground Hull has ever seen. We had swinging pirate ships, dodgems, waltzers, ghost trains, houses of fun and so much more!

An awesome fun house!

On the crafting side, we had lots of beautiful and brightly coloured carousel horses, some fantastic helter skelters and some brilliant attempts at making lollipop ferris wheels.

Carousel horses galore!

Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page to see photographs from the event. Also a selection of the models made on the day will be on display at the History Centre until next month’s event.

Speaking of forthcoming events… we only have two more History Makers sessions left this year. On Saturday 7 November we will be making poppies as we learn about the annual Remembrance Day. Then it’s almost Christmas so on 5 December we will be experiencing a Victorian Christmas as we make cards, decorations and build all manner of Santa’s grottos!

We are also currently planning out 2016 History Makers programme. Let us know what your favourite session has been or if you have any suggestions for event themes. You can leave your feedback on our Facebook page.

But for now, enjoy Hull Fair and don’t eat too much brandy snap (at least not before going on the rides)!

History Makers Team

Friday, 2 October 2015

From Paper to Virtual Worlds: Hannah's Year of Transforming Archives

Digitising the Grand Tour diary of Francis Johnson, the architect

It has (unfortunately!) come to the end of my Transforming Archives traineeship at the Hull History Centre and I have explored architectural archives, illustrated letters, digitisation, digital preservation, social media, outreach activities…. and there’s still much more! 

It is quite a challenge to summarise an entire year in one blog post so I thought I would begin with a reflection on my first post where I was newly ‘accessioned’ (archives pun there!) to the practical aspects of working in archives and how the service works, attracts new audiences, and also organises, preserves and manages the material. I came to the History Centre from a more general heritage background which included history of art, architecture and the use of digital technologies such as videogames, content management systems and websites. Because of this I began the year with an open mind, eager to learn all aspects about the role of archives and see where I could apply my previous knowledge in an archives context.

Conservation work to strengthen a WW2
Over the following months I was trained by the very knowledgeable History Centre team in all aspects of working in archives - from cataloguing in CALM, document retrieval, awareness of the range of questions users asked and collections management - I even had a go at conservation work!

My two specialisms for my traineeship were digitisation and outreach, so I had many opportunities to work with the overhead camera capturing images of maps, plans and documents. I spent a week at The National Archives where a highlight was shadowing the digitisation team to see their digitisation process for capturing images and creating metadata for mass quantities of material. 

Another brilliant aspect of the traineeship was the opportunity to undertake a long distance module with the University of Dundee. I studied 'Digitisation and Digital Preservation' which has given me lots to think about regarding the lifespan and accessibility of digital media - from now on I will certainly be thinking about the longevity of my own digital files in future work!

Being amazed by Minecraft creations at our
Bring Your Own Device event
One task I particularly enjoyed was developing learning resources for use by children and families at our History Makers Summer Sessions and Minecraft Bring Your Own Device events. For these I researched a historical theme (Hull architecture!), digitised relevant material and created resources to engage and inspire creativity. Taking part in the sessions themselves was a fun experience, and it was rewarding to see participants building architecture from the resources I created!

My traineeship has allowed me to combine existing interests with new experiences such as architectural history with digitising the architect Francis Johnson’s Grand Tour diary, and bringing forward my videogame passion into HullCraft (recreating Francis Johnson’s architecture in Minecraft).
I have really enjoyed trying new experiences - for me this was presenting to academics and professionals at conferences such as 'Northern Collaboration: Developing Archives', writing an article for The Space (BBC & Arts Council England) and also working with young people in a workshop environment.

Victor as a worm,
detail from Vicky
illustration U DX165/43
I have found some of my favourite images from cataloguing the illustrated letters of Victor Weisz which he wrote to his fourth wife Inge in the 1960s. I particularly enjoyed cataloguing the illustrations which feature himself and Inge as animal creatures or literary characters, such as drawing himself as Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet'. He is known for his political satires, yet his witty sense of humour and ability to turn his everyday routine into clever, personal cartoons are what makes these letters fascinating to work with. You can browse thumbnails of his illustrations in the catalogue I created for Vicky’s letters to Inge (U DX165). 

Another highlight from the year was meeting Jeff James, Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives and Keith Sweetmore, The National Archives Engagement Manager (North of England) at the launch of the Celebration of Architecture exhibition. Alongside the projects of local architects, the exhibition showcased Claire Weatherall’s exciting work on the Francis Johnson archive which has provided the springboard for several projects and activities I have been working on this year - from History Makers to HullCraft.

Claire Weatherall, Simon Wilson, Jeff James, myself
& Keith Sweetmore. Photo by Lee Fallin.

This year I have seen that archives are an inspiring trove of untold stories where material can be searched, reinterpreted, and communicated to audiences in many different (often surprising) ways- through lectures, books, websites, art and even videogames. I have also enjoyed the personal aspects of archives, offering windows into people’s lives who possibly never imagined that their work would be preserved or looked at by others!

Detail from Vicky illustration U DX165/254
I’m very much looking forward to what the future holds. I am very eager to continue my work in archives and have loved working at the History Centre so much that I don't really want to leave!
Thank you to the brilliant team at the Hull History Centre who have supported me throughout the year - I am going to miss the endless supply of cake! 

Also, thank you to Emma Stagg, Transforming Archives Project Manager, for leading from The National Archives front and putting up with all of the travel paperwork which comes from me being at the far end of the M62! 

Lastly, good luck to the next trainee who I’m sure will enjoy and benefit from the History Centre team and the community spirit of the Transforming Archives programme as much as I have! 

Hannah Rice
Transforming Archives Trainee (Cohort 1)

Thursday, 1 October 2015

History Bakers: Georgian Curry Powder

This recipe comes from the collection of cookery, medicinal, veterinary and other household recipes from the countess of Stradbroke c.1820 and is found at U DDHO/19/5.

Original 1820s recipe for curry powder

The recipe for the curry powder is quite simple but shows some of the spices that were available to well-to-do households in England as far back as the Georgian period.

The spices were ground together in a mortar and pestle and then dried in a warm oven for about 20 minutes.

The spices and herbs used including the curry powder in the ramekin with the ground spices.

Having made the curry powder I decided to use it to flavour some vegetable samosas. There are plenty of recipes available on the internet for samosas. I picked one that took my fancy and omitted certain spices from the list of ingredients and replaced them with the history bakers curry powder.

The ingredients for the filling

I boiled three small potatoes and a cup of frozen peas to make the vegetable filling. I fried the onion in a tablespoon of oil adding the whole spices, the ground spices and the grated ginger chilli and garlic. I then added the potatoes which I had broken up with a fork, the peas and herbs and continued to fry the filling for about ten minutes.

I made the pastry with chapatti flour which was better in taste and appearance than ones I had made with plain flour. After resting in the fridge for half an hour (the pastry not me) it was rolled out into approximately six inch circles. These were then cut in half and made into cone shape and filled with the samosa mixture which were deep fried in oil for about five minutes until brown.

The finished samosas

Here's what History Centre colleague’s thought:

Mrs West - Very Subtle Flavour- Very tasty
Paul - Perhaps lacked a bit of punch, could have done with a bit more spice
Christine - Enjoyed them very tasty
Michele - Delicious, even though there mild I really like them
Claire - Very nice but need more spice, good pastry
Verity - Just the right amount of spice
Carol - I thought they were just right. Lovely taste
Neil - Very nice I like spice but they were about right
Laura - Nice and spicy! Tasty filling with lovely crisp pastry

Pete Dixie, Reader Assistant