My chapter on wedding breakfasts must not consist in simply saying, Don't have one; though I must in the name of common sense enter my protest against the vulgarity—for it is nothing else—of giving one out of proportion to the means of the giver. Where money is no object, of course the simplest plan is to go to some first-rate confectioner's, and let them supply the breakfast at so much a head. Where, however, economy is a necessity, much can be done with a little good management to avoid waste. I will give an instance of a wedding breakfast that took place during the last six months, and the cost. For it often happens that during the last week before the wedding there is so much to be done at home in the trousseau line that any elaborate cooking in the house is almost impossible. The following bill of fare is one supplied for over sixty persons, at 14s. a head, in February last :— potages.
Printanier. Puree d'Artichauts á la Palestine. Entrees Chaudes. Chartreuse de Homard á la Cardinal.
Petites Timbales à la Grande Duchesse. Quenelle de Volaille à la Sefton. Côtelettes de Tortue.
Saumon à la Mayonnaise. Dindon aux Truffes. Gclantine de Veau à la Jardiniere.
Langues de Bœuf. Pâtés de Faisans à la Française. Jambon, braisé. Poulets rôtis.
Faisans rôtis. Anguilles en Gelée â l'Aspic. Petits Pâtés aux Huitres. Pâté de Foie-gras en Aspic. Mayonnaise de Filets de Soles. Salades de Homard.
Gâteaux de Fruit à la Richelieu. Fauchonette à la Prince de Galle. Macédoine d'Abricots. Gelées de Citron. Gelées de Marasquin.
Crèmes d'Ananas. Petits Choux à la Madère. Chartreuse d'Orange à la Tangier. Gelée à la Dauphine. Meringue à la Suisse. Petites Pâtisseries à la Bonne-bouche. Meringues à Crème à la Curaçoa. Fruit, etc. etc. Glacés.
Boudins à la Princesse Alice Maude.
Now a breakfast like this, including as it does two soups and four hot entrees, cannot as a rule be done in a private house. This of course does not include wine ; and when the breakfast is ordered from a pastrycook's, I would always recommend the wine to be supplied from the home cellar. A first-class cold breakfast from a good pastrycook's, with soup and ices, will cost about 12s. 6d. a head ; and unless the weather be really very hot, soup is always desirable. Without soup and ices, a saving of about is. a head can be made.
There are many persons, however, who cannot afford even so much as 10s. a head for a breakfast from the pastrycook's. When, therefore, the breakfast is made at home, it had better be all cold except the soup ; and the great secret of success will be found to be in the old adage—" Never put off till the morrow what can be done to-day." Have plenty of flowers, and if summer-time, have plenty of ice. Were I to go through a set of dishes, I should simply be repeating what I have already said under the heading of " How to Give a Nice Little Supper." Fruit, flowers, and ice make the greatest and best show possible for the money. Then, too, a few dishes can be bought which are not easily made at home. Some of those Italian shops where they sell ices have excellent meringues very cheap.
Perhaps the greatest sacrifice of all to that monster, Custom, is the wedding-cake. I suppose there never will be a case of a couple sufficiently strong-minded to forego themselves this luxury, on the ground of " what would people say ?" Unless the cake required be very large, it is by no means a difficult thing to make at home, and it can be sent to be baked at the baker's, who will probably know it only requires a moderate heat, and that the oven should be kept at an even temperature all through the baking-process.
Take first of all some candied peel, orange, lemon, and citron, Jib. of each, and cut them into small, thin shreds; 1 1/2lb. of flour; i 1/2lb. of butter; ilb. of dried cherries, which should be cut up, but not too fine; 1 1/2lb. of currants, which must be thoroughly washed, picked, and afterwards dried; 8oz. of almonds, well pounded ; eight eggs; the rind of four oranges rubbed on to sugar; 1/2oz. of spices, consisting of ground cinnamon, nutmegs, and cloves in equal proportions; about a tea-spoonful of salt, and half a pint of good brandy. The butter should be well worked with a wooden spoon in a large, strong basin, till it has a sort of creamy appearance. The flour, eggs, and sugar should be added slowly, while the spoon must be kept working the whole time. After this has been thoroughly well mixed, the rest of the ingredients mentioned may be added, only a little at a time, to insure the whole quantity being properly mixed up. When this is done, it should be poured into a tin hoop, placed on a metal baking-sheet. Two sheets of well-buttered paper must be placed on the baking-sheet underneath, and the hoop itself must be lined with a double band of well-buttered paper, or else the cake will be sure to burn round the edges.
The cake may now be taken off to the baker's oven, and as it will keep good for a long time, and in fact improve in flavour by keeping, it should be made some time beforehand. The icing of the cake should not be done till a short time beforehand, as it of course has a tendency to get dirty.
First the almond part—the only part of a wedding cake, to my mind, worth eating.
Take 1/2lb. of almonds, and having skinned them by throwing them into boiling water, rubbing off the skins and then throwing them into cold water in order that they may not lose their colour, pound them very thoroughly in a mortar with 1lb. of the finest white sugar, add a very little orange-water, and sufficient white of eggs to make it all into a soft paste; but take care not to fall into the common fault of making the paste too soft. This paste may now be spread over the top of the cake, taking care to avoid its getting over the edge as much as possible, and the cake must be placed in a dry place. When the paste is sufficiently hard, the whole may then be iced over with sugar as follows :—Take six whites of eggs, and add to them about 1 1/2lb. of very finely sifted, powdered white sugar. The whitest sugar must be chosen for the purpose. This must be worked well together with a wooden spoon, and a very little lemon-juice now and then dropped in while it is being worked. The mixture should properly have a shiny appearance, and if it is not thick enough it only requires a little more powdered sugar. This must now be put all over the cake to about a quarter of an inch in thickness. Some little skill will be necessary in order to avoid unseemly ridges in the icing on the top of the cake, which when covered must be put in a warm place in order to allow the icing to dry ; only be sure to put a piece of paper as soon as possible lightly over the top, as should the dust settle while it is drying, the cake will not have that snow-white appearance it should have.
Little knobs of icing may be arranged round the edge to make the cake more ornamental, and on the day of the wedding a simple wreath of white flowers and green leaves will be found quite sufficient an ornament; in fact, a plain wreath of orange-blossoms, when it can be obtained, looks far better than any more elaborate attempt at ornament.
A wedding-cake is an expensive thing to make at home, but a far more expensive thing to buy. For a highly-ornamented wedding-cake almost fabulous prices are asked; and there is something very satisfactory in having it made at home. A little ingenuity will easily enable any one whose fingers are gifted to make a small round centre ornament with glazed white cardboard, a little silver paper, and orange-blossom. When the cake is large, something raised in the centre is a great set-off to its appearance.
I trust what I have written may be the means of enabling some young couples to start in the world with some extra £20 or £30 in pocket than otherwise; but it is not so much to them that I would speak as to the conscience of the old boy, the bride's father, that I would address my remarks. You know you are really a little proud of what you think is getting your daughter off your hands respectably. You know, too, that you have never opened so many bottles of champagne in all your life before. You know, too, that many members of your son-in-law's family will visit you house on this occasion, that will probably never visit it again. Now has that fact anything to do with all this outlay, which you know you can't afford ? Very likely : but then it is really very snobbish. No, paterfamilias, don't show off, and no one will think a whit the worse of you for it. Pocket your £50, give quite a plain breakfast—no champagne at all—brave the world, and then furnish a room in the new house with the money, and instead of calling it " the breakfast-room," call it "the wedding-breakfast room." One word in conclusion. If you will give champagne, give it good, or they will all laugh at you—they will indeed, they will laugh. Young men, bachelor friends of your son-in-law, will say, " Did you taste that fellow's wine? Wasn't it awful?"—which will call forth the remark, " Ah, I don't suppose he had opened many before." Therefore, whatever you do, give good champagne, or none.