We use sugar in our hot and cold drinks, desserts,
candies, fruits and vegetables, meat recipes, chewing gum,
and even feed a little to our yeast to help it rise when baking
breads. If you want to see a sports event you can go to the
Sugar Bowl. Some people use sugar as a term
of endearment and, others are just happy with a Sugar Daddy,
(this is the one that's caramel candy on a stick . . . the
other is another subject).
Pastry chefs enjoy creating numerous art forms from sugar
paste, fondant or pastillage.
In today's society, sugar is readily available for use and
consumption, but this was not always true. The following is
just a very brief history on the subject of "sugar and slavery".
The initial use of cane sugar by man is thought to originate
in Polynesia from where it spread to India. At this time,
sugar cane was chewed because of its sweet taste. In the early
4th Century B.C., persons living in the Mediterranean countries
learned about this delicious sweet sugar of India through
the armies of Alexander the Great, but it would take another
1,000 years before sugar cane was brought to the Middle East,
North Africa, and southern Europe by conquering Moslem armies.
The merchants of Genoa hired the young Christopher Columbus
to ship their sugar from Madeira. Columbus was aware of the
value of this cargo since his first wife's mother owned a
sugar plantation and therefore, natural for him to introduce
sugar to the New World in 1493.
Sugar and South America
After the original planting of sugar cane in Santo Domingo,
the crop quickly spread to countries such as Puerto Rico,
Cuba, and other South American countries. These planters massed
Sugar and Profit
Sugar was extremely profitable, but required larges areas
of land and a large labor force. Sugar cane takes between
14 to 18 months just to ripen, but once it is harvested, it
must be processed within a few hours to keep it from fermenting
and spoiling. Therefore, the use of slavery was essential
to the success of sugar production.
Sugar and Slaves
The best choice were slaves from West Africa. These were experienced
in the sugar cane production because they had worked on the
Atlantic and Caribbean plantations. Also, it is interesting
to note that the African legal system recognized slaves as
being the only form of private revenue-producing property.
In other words, in Africa slaves were considered a "taxed-property"
which generated revenue. Therefore, slave trading was widespread
in producing wealth for the African elites. In the early 15th
Century, regardless of a well-developed slave trade, European
slave traders carried out illegal slave trading. By the end
of the 16th Century, history has recorded that literally millions
of Africans were torn from their homes and families, and forced
to make the dreaded "Middle Passage" voyage. This passage
was not only dehumanizing, but often the causes of death from
diseases such as yellow fever, measles, and small pox. Additionally,
the conditions on these ships caused many of the slaves to
suffer psychological damage as well.
Abolition of Slavery?
By 1807 Britain passed into law the Abolition of Slavery.
Other laws, regulations and codes followed. As recent as 1997,
the United Nations visited the Dominican Republic to investigate
complaints against Haitian workers working on state-owned
sugar cane plantations there. The allegations were that Haitian
workers were not receiving wages for the first three months
of their contracts, and after this period the workers were
paid in tokens. These tokens were of two types: "tickets"
of the cane cutting and loading, and "coupons" for can cleaning.
These tickets could be converted into cash, but only at a
20 per cent discount. Tickets could only be used at the issuing
supervisor's shop. Today, sugar is produced in 121 countries,
and global production new exceeds 120 million tons a year,
with about 70 per cent produced from sugar cane and the remaining
Written By Chef Emily De Long
Emily De Long is Executive Pastry Chef and Owner of Gourmet
Bake Shoppe located in Virginia Beach, Virginia Virginia
Apple Brandy-Walnut Galette
For the pastry (pate feuilletee):
3-1/4 sticks chilled unsalted butter, quartered lengthwise
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (1/2 cup for sprinkling)
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup ice water
For the filling:
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (4 ounces) pure can sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla-butternut extract
2 tablespoons apple brandy
1 tablespoon Southern Comfort , plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground walnuts
For the pastry
Place flours, salt and chilled diced butter in bowl of a heavy
duty mixer. With flat beater mix until resembles crumbs.
Form a triangle by flouring top and bottom lightly. Flip and
fold as you would a letter. Keep turning and folding, and
keeping your work surface neat and clean. When all flour is
absorbed into dough and you have folded the dough about three
or four times, wrap in cloth and put in refrigerator to chill
and relax the gluten. Turn several times more, and dough will
then be ready to form and bake. Makes about 1-1/2 of pastry.
No time for that? Use (1) box of Peppridge Farm Puff Pastry
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whisk
in the remaining filling ingredients.
Roll out (2) circles of dough approximately 10 inch in circumference
under a lightly floured surface. Line a cookie sheet with
parchment paper and place one circle of dough onto the sheet.
Fill dough in center and spread on circle leaving 1-1/2 inch
margin on sides.
Whisk the remaining egg yolk with teaspoon Southern Comfort
and brush margin carefully . . . do not let drip off sides
of dough onto parchment.
Place second circle of dough on top and pinch ends decoratively
all around. With a sharp knife, make a pattern on top, but
do not cut through the tart. Brush with remaining egg wash
and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Bake at 375 degrees F. for 35 to 40 minutes or until brown,
crispy and puffy. Drizzle with confectioners sugar flavored
with Southern Comfort, or dust with sugar.
Recipe By Chef Emily De Long