Stirring up the stacks #8: Xmas Cake Recipe Recommended by “Buckhams”

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Post cooked up by Katherine Milburn, Liaison Librarian and Curator of Ephemera

For many people Christmas is a time of long-honoured traditions. At the Hocken this means the decorating of our Christmas tree in the foyer on the 1st of December. It seemed the perfect date to bring in the latest contribution to Stirring up the Stacks, especially one that celebrates the festive season and advertised itself as a “proven recipe”.

Xmas Cake Recipe Recommended by “Buckhams”. Buckhams Cordials, [Queenstown], 1967. Ephemera Collection, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

In the Hocken’s Ephemera Collection is a Christmas cake recipe leaflet from Buckhams Cordials that wishes readers a “Merry Xmas 1967”. On the reverse is a photograph of a well-stocked fridge of “Chilled Buckhams Cordials” where we can spot a variety of flavours on the labels including Still Orange, Frostee Orange, Cola Kist, and Jamaica Dry Pale Ginger Ale. Sadly, none of these labels are currently represented in the ephemera collection, but we would gladly welcome their addition if anyone has a collection they would like to pass on.

Buckhams Cordials was a Queenstown company that was established in 1870 as the Wakatip Brewery by William Lovell Davis and Thomas Surman. Their partnership dissolved in 1873, and the brewery and cordial factory continued to be run by Davis until 1880, when he left to take up mining with his brother James. James Read was granted the brewery’s lease and ran the business until his death in 1888. His wife Alice then continued the business until 1901 when management was taken over by Charles Davis, son of William Lovell Davis. In 1908 William Lovell Davis died and the brewery was purchased by his daughter Mrs H.C. Buckham. In November 1915 the brewery side of the business was closed to avoid charges from new beer duty regulations, and the company continued as a cordial manufacturer under Buckham family management. It was eventually sold in 1969 by Jim Buckham to R. Powley and Co. Ltd of Dunedin.

The Christmas cake recipe requires the overnight soaking of mixed fruit in a seven ounce bottle of Buckhams Ginger Ale. This was easily substituted for a modern supermarket brand, but it obviously remains unclear what difference this made to the eventual flavour. Perhaps for today’s bakers, the most unusual ingredient is one tablespoon of glycerine. An internet search revealed it is used to keep cakes moist and icing soft, and a bottle was eventually tracked down in a local health food store.

Mixed fruit soaked in ginger ale; freshly baked cake

The cake was made following the standard instructions but the recipe lacked any directions about decoration. I decided to make a royal icing that also incorporated glycerine (using a Mary Berry recipe), since I now possess a bottle to be used up! This cake is not suitable for the dietary requirements of all Hocken staff as it contains ten ounces of butter and six eggs, so I also baked a vegan version. This involved the swapping of ordinary flour for self-raising flour, besides the exclusion of butter and eggs, and a lemon juice/icing sugar glaze for decoration.

The decorated cake and the vegan version

Staff feedback was positive with most enjoying the cake’s taste and texture, and the royal icing in favour of the more common almond icing. One person rated both cakes a very generous 20 out of 20, and it was gratifying to hear another admit “I don’t really like fruit Christmas cakes, but this is an exception – lovely”. However, as my own Christmas tradition is to make my Christmas cake on Labour Day and feed it weekly with rum to ensure a moist texture and delicious flavour, I would have to concur with the staff member who suggested that this cake “possibly needs to age more?” The texture may have been improved by the addition of more than just the prescribed tablespoon of glycerine. I also would have preferred an increased ratio of spices, with the possible addition of ginger since, as one Hocken staff member noted, the flavour from the ginger ale did not come through.

It is always interesting to learn more about our early business and food history. The ephemera collection includes numerous examples of local advertising that also illustrate the perpetuation of our cultural traditions.

Sources

Leckie, Frank G. Otago’s Breweries Past & Present. Dunedin, Otago Heritage Books, 1997.

“Queenstown Identity Dies” Otago Daily Times, 13 July 1988, page 13.

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #7: Virginia pudding

Stirring up the stacks #6: Pumpkin pie

Stirring up the stacks #5: Sauerkraut roll

Stirring up the stacks #4: A “delicious cake from better times”

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

 

Lel, Father Christmas, and ‘The Sun’s Babies’

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by David Murray, Archivist

One of the cutest Christmas messages in the Hocken Collections is found on a postcard in the papers of Dunedin poet and editor Charles Brasch.

The front of the postcard shows the picturesque St John’s Anglican Church, Waikouaiti. The message on the reverse reads:

Mr Father Christmas
D.I.C.
Dunedin.

Dec 3rd

Dear Farther Christmas.
please will you give me these things
the “Suns Babys” and a doll.
love from Lesley Brasch
adress is 99 London St.
Dunedin

Lesley Brasch, known in her family as ‘Lel’, was Charles’s younger sister. Their father was the lawyer Hyam Brasch, and their mother Helene (née Fels) was related to the Hallensteins, a prominent Jewish family associated with the New Zealand Clothing Company and other businesses.

Born in 1911, Lel lived with her parents and brother at ‘Bankton’. Originally the home of Rev. Thomas Burns, and later of Sir Robert Stout, its address was 99 London Street when the postcard was used. The property was later subdivided and other houses have since been built in front of it. Its address is now 4 Stoutgate.

Lesley with her brother Charles at ‘Manono’, London Street, the property of their grandparents, Willi and Sara Fels. Bankton was a little further up the street, on the opposite side. E.A. Phillips photographer. Ref: Hocken Collections MS-0996-012/100.

We don’t know what year Lel wrote her request, but it was when she was a little girl in the 1910s.  She addressed it to Father Christmas at the D.I.C., or to give it its complete mouthful of a name, the Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand Limited. Her own great-grandfather, Bendix Hallenstein, established the business some thirty years or so before.

The Dunedin department store was a logical place to send a message to the jolly red-suited man. From 1902 children could visit him every afternoon before Christmas, and in the 1910s the company advertised: ‘Father Christmas is at Home at the D.I.C.’. In 1917, the store advertised ’20 big busy departments full of Xmas gifts’, and a Toyland for Children. It invited parents to bring their children to see Father Christmas in his quaint old chimney corner. Admission was sixpence and children were given a present. Seventy years later children still visited the D.I.C. to see Santa. Its later attractions included Pixie Town, now on display at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. The D.I.C.’s Dunedin store closed in 1991, after the company was taken over by Arthur Barnett.

Advertisement from the Otago Daily Times, 15 December 1917 p.2. Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand: https://goo.gl/nCBBvo.

Lel asked Father Christmas for a popular and particularly beautiful children’s book, The Sun’s Babies by Edith Howes. Even at a young age the Braschs were supporting New Zealand writers! Born in London in 1872, Howes came to New Zealand with her family when still an infant, and became known as a teacher, writer, and educationalist. She lived in a variety of places around the country, including Ashburton, Wanganui, Makarewa, Gore, Wellington, and Christchurch. In later life she lived in Dunedin, where she died in 1954.

The Sun’s Babies, published in 1910, is set in a mythical fairy world. It includes stories and poems about plants, animals and fairies in the different seasons of the year, incorporating life lessons. The first of Howes’s children’s books, it met with both critical acclaim and popular success. Hocken holds three editions of the book, including Cassell & Co’s original 1910 edition and the 1913 edition shown here. The illustrations are by the English artist Frank Watkins (1863-1929).

Howes, Edith. The Sun’s Babies. London: Cassell and Company, 1913. Hocken Publications, Bliss YO How.s.

Illustration by Frank Watkins from The Sun’s Babies. The caption reads: ‘When she saw Tinyboy she hid her face shyly in her curls’.

Did Lesley get her book and doll? We don’t know but like to think so. Perhaps the answer awaits discovery in the Brasch papers,

There are thousands of postcards in the papers and they are less studied than many other parts of the collection. This particular card can be found in the item: ‘Envelope labelled “Loose postcards” including postcards from family and de Beer, Fels, Hallenstein and Brasch families’ (Charles Brasch papers, Hocken Archives, Uare Taoka o Hākena, MS-0996-012/521).

Merry Christmas from the Hocken Collections.

 

A Kiwi Christmas playlist

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | 1 Comment

Post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – AV and Music

Hocken Christmas music

Have you ever heard of the New Zealand Christmas classic “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” by Pat McMinn and the Combie Murdoch Trio? No? How about Pixie Williams singing “Best Wishes”?  These are only two of the many New Zealand Christmas classic tracks waiting in the Hocken stacks to be rediscovered. The recorded Christmas music that the Hocken has dates from the late 1940s with the Pixie Williams disc, though the 1960s to the 1980s featured many recordings popular at the time, but now faded into obscurity. These include

  •  Chic Littlewood’s “Let’s make everyday Christmas”
  • The Dallas Four’s “White Christmas”
  • Hauraki Good Guys with Salty Dog “Please daddy, don’t get drunk this Christmas”
  • Various Artists Still hooked on Christmas

However, many recordings have remained in the public consciousness, with arguably the most well-known being Kingi Ihaka’s “Pukeko in a ponga tree”.  Along with Billy T. James’ “When a child is born”, Julie Nelson and The Don Ball Orchestra’s “Sticky Beak the kiwi” is still incredibly popular. “Sticky Beak the kiwi” was written specifically by Gisbourne-based folk singer Bob Edwards and lyricist Neil Roberts for children in 1961. 14-year old Julie Nelson sang the song, backed by the Whanganui dance band, the Don Ball Orchestra. The song became a hit.

Sticky beak the kiwi

Well known bands like the Avengers in the 1960s, and Split Enz in the 1980s, recorded Christmas messages for their fan clubs, in a similar vein to the Christmas fan club recordings released by The Beatles. Billy T. James released “A Maori Christmas” for Radio Hauraki, while Fred Dagg released the infamous short track “Star of wonder”. These tracks were among the local songs gathered together in the 2012 Christmas-themed CD Pohutakawas & pavlova.

Along with Wing’s two albums of Christmas music (Everyone sing carols with Wing, and Carols, rap and sing: A beautiful Christmas), another Christmas-themed holding we have is Wendyhouse’s The Wendyhouse Christmas album, which has alternative (and often subversive) Christmas tracks such as “Teddy’s anger”, and “Here comes the family”.

Our sheet music holdings have some interesting items too – “The song of Bethlehem (A New Zealand Christmas carol)” from 1942 by Muriel Hunt and Joye Taylor is a short piece that centres on the seasonal features of the New Zealand Christmas. “Dear Santa Claus” in contrast (written in the UK in 1948 by Gerry Mason, and published locally by Beggs), is more traditional in theme, focussing on a child’s letter asking Santa Claus to not forget him.

Finally, one very interesting holding we have is particularly close to the Hocken Collections:  the Hocken end of year function from 1987, featuring the recorder skills of Ken Booth. This cassette is definitely one for the digitisation list!

Hocken Cassette