The Malinda Russell Recipe Project is open to everyone who is interested in honoring the legacy of Malinda Russell.
Note: We are just setting up the testing program. More details will be forthcoming within a few weeks. Let’s say, by late-June, 2021.
There are three levels at which you can participate.
Working from the original book. People with experience baking historic recipes from the 19th century, certainly, and ideally also from the 18th century, are welcome to join the group adapting the original recipes. The recipes are not being “modernized.” But Malinda Russell, like many authors during her time, often wrote recipes that assume the cook had knowledge that we may not have. If you bake all the time and know how the recipe is supposed to turn out there is no need to specify the exact amount of flour, or the exact amount of the milk. Some specialized knowledge is required to test the recipes. Chefs, pastry cooks, and proficient amateurs who want to work with her original recipes should let us know. Our goal is to recreate the recipes as she intended them to be, which, in some cases, may differ from modern practice. As was customary in her time, Malinda Russell worked from published recipes so adapting her recipes includes researching their sources in the cookbook literature of her time. Consulting the books she had access to helps resolve ambiguities that may be in the original recipes.
Testing the recipes once they have been turned into a modern recipe. We are looking for anyone who loves to bake to test our adapted recipes. This includes individuals, church groups, culinary history groups, chefs, pastry cooks, bakers – children. Malinda Russell’s stated dream was to make a book for the people she knew. This will have included her friends, family, her African American community as it was evolving just after emancipation, as well as the White families she worked for. Because there are roughly two hundred recipes in all, we are particularly interested in the involvement of church groups so that many recipes can be tested simultaneously. We also feel that church groups are likely to include communities that were important to Malinda Russell herself.
Recipe testers will be given space on this website to share the results of their work — and a place to publish favorite dessert recipes of your own. You may also post images of your testing work to Instagram with the hashtag #malindarussellrecipes.
Bake the recipes for your family, friends, church events, and community celebrations. The core testing group feels confident that besides her six years as the owner of a small bakery, Malinda will have developed these recipes as a caterer. Considering how fantastic we are finding these recipes to be, there is no question in our minds that Malinda Russell was the go-to baker whenever there was a wedding, a funeral, or any other kind of celebration. So, peruse the recipes we post here and make them your own. Post images of your work to Instagram with the hashtag #malindarussellrecipes.