Goodfellow, Elizabeth

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GOODFELLOW, ELIZABETH. Elizabeth Good-fellow (17681851) was an American pastry cook, confectioner, and cooking school instructor. Her full married name was Elizabeth Baker Pierson Coane Goodfellow. Through her daughter Sarah Pierson, the wife of the French Quaker Michel Bouvier, Goodfellow was an ancestor of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Illustrious connections aside, Goodfellow's antecedents remain obscure, though she was probably born in Maryland, and the source of her extraordinary culinary training is unknown. Yet as an advocate of native ingredients and of an American style of cooking, she was one of the most creative forces in American cookery during the early nineteenth century. She was a teacher, friend, and mentor to Eliza Leslie, who expounded Goodfellow's culinary philosophies in all of her highly successful cookbooks.

By the time of her third marriage, to the Philadelphia clockmaker William Goodfellow in 1808, Elizabeth Goodfellow had established herself as one of the leading pastry cooks and confectioners in the city and had become well known throughout the country for her cooking school, which she operated in association with several boarding schools for young girls. In her cooking school Goodfellow prepared budding debutantes for marriage by teaching them recipes for rich sideboard dishes, like beef à la mode, and innumerable pastries and cakes for formal teas, including her own inventions Spanish buns, Indian meal pound cake, rose jumbles, and perhaps her most famous dish, lemon pudding, the prototype for the American lemon meringue pie.

The core of Goodfellow's lectures survives in Leslie's Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats (1828) and in numerous manuscript cookery books compiled by other Goodfellow students. Unlike her contemporary and business competitor Hannah Hungary Widdifield, Goodfellow never published a book. One of her former students from the South issued a cookbook in 1853 called Cookery as It Should Be and claimed that it embodied all the best of the Goodfellow school of cookery. It did not, as Leslie curtly pointed out in a contemporary review, since Goodfellow would have been "horrified" by the use of chemical leavens and other glaring culinary flaws.

Leslie's work preserves Goodfellow's maxims, such as the one relating to pound cakes: "Up-weight of flour, and down-weight of everything else" (p. 520). One of Goodfellow's most important contributions was to insist that, in recipe writing, all ingredients be listed first. On this point alone she was many years ahead of her times.

See also Cookbooks; Education About Food; Leslie, Eliza; Recipe; United States.


For genealogical data see the Goodfellow papers at the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, courtesy of Frances James Dallett. For original cooking school recipes see Hannah Marshall Haines, "Receipt Book" (Philadelphia, 18111824), available at the Wyck Association in Philadelphia. Also see Mrs. Frederick Sidney Giger, Colonial Receipt Book (Philadelphia: Winston, 1907); and Eliza Leslie, Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats (Boston: Munroe and Francis, 1828), as well as Eliza Leslie, Miss Leslie's Cook Book (Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson, 1881).

William Woys Weaver

"Mrs. Goodfellow's Indian Meal Pound Cake"

The structure of this recipe is pure Goodfellow. Even though the ingredients are not listed in the order in which they are used, a certain logic emerges, since the weights of the dry ingredients depends on the eggs. The Indian meal referred to was a coarse, starchy flour made from Menomonee white flour corn that resembled masa harina.

Eight eggs
The weight of eight eggs in powdered sugar
The weight of six eggs in Indian meal, sifted
Half a pound of butter
One nutmeg, grated, or a teaspoonful of cinnamon

Stir the butter and sugar to a cream. Beat the eggs very light. Stir the meal and eggs, alternately, into the butter and sugar. Grate in the nutmeg. Stir well. Butter a tin pan, put in the mixture, and bake it in a moderate oven. (Leslie, 1828, p. 61)