Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Alexis Soyer's Grouse Salad

A brace of red grouse (gélinotte d'Ecosse)
Both red and black grouse (the latter sometimes called black game or black cock) were extremely popular table birds with wealthy Victorian diners. Their dark gamey flesh was served up in a myriad ways, often in dishes with high-sounding French names - Black Game à la Montagnarde and Black Game à la suedoise were just two of a number of elaborate removes published in a chapter wholly devoted to these game birds in The Modern Cook (1846) by the great chef Charles Elmé Francatelli (1805-1876). Francatelli was chief cook and maître d'hôtel to Queen Victoria in 1841-2 and frequently dressed gélinotte d'Ecosse for her Majesty's table. At a royal dinner on 15th August 1841, Escalopes de Gélinottes aux Trûffes appeared among the entrées. Five days later he served spit roasted grouse to the queen among the rôts.

The more light heartedly named Grouse à la Rob Roy and Grouse à la Bonnie Lassie were invented by Francatelli's rival, the much better known chef Alexis Soyer (1809-1858). With their ring of Walter Scott and the Highlands, Soyer's grouse dishes reflected the contemporary fashion among the English aristocracy for all things Scottish. Soyer's signature grouse dish was a salad, which he invented in Paris at a culinary competition. It became so famous that a number of other cookery authors cited the recipe, usually quoting Soyer's own anecdote about its origin. For instance, in later editions of Meg Dod's The Cook's and Housewife's Manual (first published Edinburgh: 1826), the recipe and story were almost certainly included because of the dish's strong Scottish connections. In the 1862 edition of this iconic Scots cookery book, with its supposed connections to Sir Walter Scott, the editor paraphrases Soyer's own words,

'This salad, M. Soyer confesses, is better adapted to gentlemen than ladies. It was first served in Paris at a competition of the most celebrated artistes of the Stove, on whose head certain English noblemen and gentlemen had large bets. What cook can fail to envy the Chef of the Reform Club, when he is able to say, "My first course, being full of novelty, gained the approbation of the whole party;" but the salade created such an unexpected effect, that in brief the inventor was invited to the honour of the sitting, and over several rosades of exquisite Lafitte, it was christened by General Sir Alexander Duff, who presided over the noble party "SALADE DE GROUSE À LA SOYER!" These are moments which occur but once in a man's life. this was M. Soyer's Waterloo or Trafalgar; his Bridge of Lodi; his Austerlitz!'

The trimmed down version of Salade de grouse à la Soyer made from the recipe in The Modern Housewife or Ménagère (1849). With its garniture of egg quarters decorated with little dots of radish, it looks like a formation dance team of Clangers about to do a backward somersault into the salad bowl. It was made by my students at a Victorian Cookery Course last Sunday. It met with everybody's approbation, including the ladies. The frothy looking ferny herb on top is chervil.
General Sir Alexander Duff (1777-1853) was a younger son of the Scottish peer James Duff, the 4th Earl of Fife. After a distinguished military career, Alexander became Lord Lieutenant of Elginshire. Soyer was a shameless name dropper and was very proud that he had been invited to sit with Duff's noble party and share their Chateau Lafite. He gives his own account of the incident in The Gastronomic Regenerator (London: 1846) and explains in the recipe that, 'I must observe that the salad is better adapted for gentlemen than ladies, though if less eschalot were used it might also meet their approbation'. As well as the shallot, the salad dressing included chilli vinegar, so this was an ardently piquant dish - perfect for high ranking military officers pumped up with testosterone and mustard such as Duff and his companions. Soyer published two slightly different versions of the dish. The first, which appeared in The Gastronomic Regenerator was somewhat more ambitious than a slightly trimmed down incarnation he included in The Modern Housewife or Ménagère four years later. He illustrated the more complicated variation of the salad as below, which had two layers of quartered eggs in the garniture and a curious pointed dome topped with salad stuff, which he does not explain in the recipe.
The fancier version of the salad from The Gastronomic Regenerator (1846)
These two books were aimed at different readerships. The Gastronomic Regenerator was intended for fellow professionals who catered for fairly elevated establishments, while The Modern Housewife  for middle class housewives and their cooks. The former's employers were likely to have their own grouse moor, the latter might get their birds from a game dealer.  Here is the simpler version of the recipe,  

Boil eight eggs hard, shell  throw them into cold water, cut a thin slice off the bottom to facilitate the proper placing of them in the dish, cut each one into four, lengthwise, make a very thin flat border of butter about one inch from the edge of the dish you are going to serve them on; fix the pieces of egg upright, close to each other, the yolk outside, or alternately the white and yolk; you lay in the centre a layer of fresh salad that may be in season, and having previously roasted a young grouse rather underdone, which you cut into eight or ten pieces, then prepare sauce as follows : put a spoonful of eschalots, finely chopped, in a basin, one ditto of pounded sugar, the yolk of one egg, a teaspoonful of chopped parsley, tarragon, or chervil, and a quarter of an ounce of salt, mix in by degrees with a wooden spoon, four spoonfuls of oil and two of Chilli vinegar; when all mixed, put it on ice, or in a cold place; when ready to serve up, whip a gill of cream rather thick, which lightly mix with it, then lay the inferior parts of the grouse on the salad, sauce over so as to cover each piece, then lay over the salad and the remainder of the grouse; sauce over, and serve. The eggs may be ornamented with a little dot of radishes on the point, or beet-root. Anchovy and gherkin, cut into small diamonds, may be placed between, or cut gherkins in slices, and lay a border of them round, or in any way your fancy may dictate. Leaves of tarragon or chervil are very pretty round it.

From The Modern Housewife or Ménagère. London: 1849.

Soyer's second cookery book was targeted at middle class housewives
The edge of a dish is lined with butter to support the garnish of egg quarters. The morsels of roast grouse are coated in a chilli mayonnaise enriched with whipped cream and buried under layers of salad stuff
In October 1850 Soyer served the salad to Prince Albert at a magnificent banquet given by the Mayor of York in the city's Guild Hall. No doubt it was the more complicated version of the dish. Ten dishes of the salad were served among the entremets of the second course. Here is the full menu from Soyer's spurious history of food through the ages The Pantropheon (London: 1853).

Prince Albert's feast in York 1850
A few years ago I made Soyer's grouse salad at Castle Howard in Yorkshire in an episode of a very silly BBC2 television series called Royal Upstairs Downstairs. In September 1850 Victoria and Albert had been entertained by the Earl of Carlisle at this magnificent house and Soyer provided a spectacular ball supper. This particular episode in the twenty part series, which charted Victoria's visits to various stately homes, was meant to document this royal occasion. Unfortunately no menu has survived. I decided to make the grouse salad because it was served at the York feast a month later. If it was also served at Castle Howard, I wonder if Soyer made a version for the queen without the shallot and chilli vinegar. If so, I wonder if it met her 'approbation'?

Pride of place at the York banquet was Soyer's famous 'Hundred Guinea Dish' which was served on the royal table

For those of you who are wondering what on earth those bizarre heads are, here is Soyer’s shopping list of ingredients for the hundred-guinea dish. I will let you work it out yourself. Our sensibilities about what is acceptable on the plate in front of us have changed so much since 1850. As have our attitudes to the politics of food. Just consider that when Soyer prepared this absurd dish, the great famine was still raging in Ireland.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Jubilee Food Revisited

Mrs Marshall's Jubilee tea cakes garnishing an iced cabinet pudding
Last week, I was preparing for my Victorian Cookery course. Because of the impending celebrations for the diamond jubilee of Elizabeth II, I thought it would be fun to include a Victorian jubilee dish in the proceedings. My initial inclination was to make a dish called Jubilee Quenelles, a recipe for which appears in Agnes. B. Marshall's Larger Cookery Book of Extra Recipes (nd.1890s). These delicate morsels were shaped in oval quenelle moulds from a veal or chicken farce filled with cucumber peas, diced truffle and mushroom. They were then coated with veloute sauce and garnished with smaller quenelles moulded in the form of crowns partly coloured with carmine and little shapes cut out of truffle. In other words, poached veal quenelles piggybacked by smaller crown shaped quenelles, a time consuming dish, which would have involved half a day spent cutting out fiddly shapes from truffle.

Mrs Marshall's Jubilee Quenelles

 So I decided to have a go at an easier dish - jubilee tea cakes from Mrs Marshall's earlier Cookery Book (London: 1885). The occurrence of a recipe for a jubilee cake in a book published two years before the 1887 celebration made me think that perhaps this cake was innovated twenty five years earlier for the Silver Jubilee of Victoria. But as I have mentioned in a previous posting, many English brewers were already making ales in 1885 which were intended to be laid down for two years in order to mature for drinking as special jubilee ales in 1887. People at the time did plan ahead for the big event. So perhaps Marshall included a recipe for these rather nice tea cakes because she knew that the event was not far off. Or more likely, as Plumcake has just pointed out to me, these tea cakes have nothing to do with royal jubilee celebrations, as the word 'jubilee' can encompass other meanings. Whatever their origins, jubilee tea cakes are very nice. Here is Mrs Marshall's  recipe.

Mrs Marshall's Jubilee tea cakes 1885. The tea glace is made by mixing one and a half teaspoons of strong tea and one and a half teaspoons of water with 12 ounces of icing sugar and heating the ingredients in a saucepan.
So I fired up my range and set about making them. A requirement of the recipe is a set of small fleur rings. These were like crumpet rings, though unlike crumpet rings, they were sometimes fluted. Fortunately I have some surviving ones and filled them with the almond batter and put them in the oven. As they were baking, I went to my office and checked my email. I was surprised to find that my friend Annie Gray had at that moment posted a comment on my posting Jubilee Cakes about Mrs Marshall's recipe, which she had just discovered. What a coincidence.!

The tea cakes rose nicely in the oven, but then collapsed into little golden brown fluted cakes that looked a little like very light drop scones. I glazed them with the tea glace, rolled the sides while the icing was still wet in desiccated coconut and sprinkled them with chopped pistachio nuts. Verdict - lovely. Mrs Marshall suggests serving them with a compote of fruit or an ice. Since my students on the day made an Iced Cabinet Pudding, a strawberry ice cream and a compote of strawberries, we served these altogether for our evening meal with the Jubilee tea cakes as shown in the photo at the beginning of this post.

The finished tea cakes
The frontispiece of Mrs Marshall's Cookery Book in which the tea cakes appear
A contemporary of Mrs Marshall, the baker Robert Wells includes some much more pedestrian Jubilee baked goods in his book The Bread & Biscuit Baker's and Sugar Boiler's Assistant. 2nd Edition (London: 1890).

As well as Jubilee Cakes and other commemorative dishes, there were of course Jubilee Puddings. Plumcake has been researching primary sources for these and has discovered a nice horde, quite a few of them published in the US, where interest in British royals seems to have been strong at the end of the nineteenth century. Here then is Plumcake's collection of Jubilee Pudding recipes.

Jubilee Pudding. — Take half a pound of sponge cake, rather stale than otherwise, and cut it into thin slices. Butter one side, and spread the other either with orange marmalade or apricot jam, then place the slices in layers in a plain round mould, buttered side downwards. Pour three-quarters of a pint of good custard over each layer, and repeat until the mould is full. Let the pudding soak for an hour, then bake in a quick oven, and turn out before serving. Wine or brandy sauce may be sent to table with it. Time, an hour and a quarter to bake. Probable cost, 1s. 6d. Sufficient for four or five persons.

Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery, Cassell, ltd [1883] p.344

JUBILEE PUDDING. — Beat eight ounces of fresh butter to a cream, and mix with it eight ounces of finely sifted sugar, the same weight of fine flour, dried and sifted; two ounces of candied peel, sliced thin; six ounces of picked currants, and a few drops of essence of almonds, vanilla or lemon. When these ingredients are nicely mixed, moisten them with six fresh eggs, well beaten. Beat the mixture for a few minutes, then pour it into a buttered pudding basin or mould, cover the top with a sheet of buttered paper, and tie a pudding cloth over all. Plunge the pudding into plenty of fast boiling water, and let it boil hard for three hours, or if preferred, it may be steamed, in which case it will require half an hour longer. Turn the pudding out carefully on to a hot dish, pour wine sauce round about, and serve.
AUNT CHLOE. London, Eng.

The Cultivator & Country Gentleman, vol.52, Luther Tucker & Son, Albany, N.Y. [1887] p.845

Jubilee Pudding.
Pouding à la Jubilé.

Take six nice-shaped apples all about the same size; remove the cores and put a piece of cinnamon in each. Place the apples in a flat-bottomed basin; pour a teaspoonful of brandy over each. Cover the top of the basin with a sheet of paper and set it in a pan of boiling water to steam. When soft remove the cinnamon and put a teaspoonful of strawberry jam in its place. Then dish them up in a pyramid and pour over them all half a pint of whipped cream flavoured with a few drops of vanilla and sweetened with sugar. Sprinkle ratafia cake crumbs over all.

Sweets and Supper Dishes à la Mode, Mrs. De Salis, Longmans, London [1888] p.28

JUBILEE PUDDING — (1) A border-mould of claret jelly, center filled with whipped cream mixed with cut candied fruits and preserved ginger. (2) A hot vermicelli - pudding made like a bread-custard and baked; strawberry jam and cream spread on top, and meringue over — like queen pudding.

The Steward's Handbook and Guide to Party Catering, Jessup Whitehead,

J. Anderson & Co., Chicago [1889] p.355

Cold Puddings and Frozen Puddings. — Some of these "puddings" might just as appropriately be called creams; however, fashion ordains that they shall be puddings. One of the newest is the

Jubilee Pudding. — Make a pint of claret jelly; pour it into a small border mould; whip half a pint of cream in which is a quarter of an ounce of dissolved gelatine. When it is whipped solid, stir in one ounce of preserved or candied cherries, one ounce of candied angelica, one ounce of preserved ginger, and one ounce of preserved apricot — the ginger and angelica cut small. Set on ice; then turn out. Pile the whipped cream and fruit in the centre, and decorate according to fancy.

Choice Cookery, Catherine Owen, Harper & Brothers, New York [1889] p.230

Jubilee Pudding.

Take two ounces of grated bread-crumbs, two ounces butter, the same of castor sugar, two well-beaten eggs, and two large tablespoonfuls of preserve. Mix thoroughly, put in a mould and steam for an hour and a half, and serve with wine sauce.

Puddings and Pastry à la Mode, Mrs. De Salis (Harriet Anne), Longmans, London [1889] p.33

Jubilee Pudding. — Half a pint of cream, ½oz. of gelatine, 2oz. of caster sugar, and 1oz. each of preserved ginger, apricots, cherries, and angelica, with a tablespoonful of ginger syrup. Whip the cream till perfectly stiff, with a tiny dust of salt, then mix in lightly the fruit, sugar, syrup, and lastly the gelatine previously dissolved in a little water to avoid lumps. Mould in the usual way, turn out, and serve.

The "Queen" Cookery Books, no.7 (Sweets Part 2) S. Beaty-Pownall, H. Cox, [1904] p.60


(Canadian Receipt.)

Take 3 table-spoonfuls flour, 1 table-spoonful corn-starch, a pinch of salt. Mix together with a little cold milk. Boil 1 pt. of milk, stir in the mixture, take from the fire. When it gets cool add 4 eggs, yolks and whites beaten separately. Beat in the yolks, stir in the whites, pour all into a pudding dish and set in a pan of cold water. Steam ½ hour in the in the oven. Serve with liquid sauce.

Choice receipts: tested by experienced housekeepers, Fort Orange Press, Albany, N.Y. [1903] p.60

Friday, 25 May 2012

Mr Borella's Clary Fritters

Clary leaves after washing and drying

Throughout the course of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a number of authors produced books called The Complete Confectioner, or with a title that was a variation on this name, such as The New, Universal and Complete Confectioner. The earliest book with this name was a newly christened edition of Mary Eale's Receipts (first published 1718), renamed The Compleat Confectioner, or the Art of Candying and Preserving in the Utmost Perfection (London: 1733). This was followed in c.1760 by Hannah Glasse's The Compleat Confectioner, which was very cheekily plagiarised in the 1780s by the publisher Alex Hogg, though he changed the title to The New, Universal and Complete Confectioner to disguise its source. The text is identical to Glasse's book, though it was issued under the name of a fictitious author called Elizabeth Price.  

In 1789, the professional London confectioner and cook Frederick Nutt issued another Complete Confectioner, though this appeared anonymously in its first two editions under the authorship of 'A Person'. In 1800 a curious volume was issued by an author called Maria Wilson with the same title. She proclaimed on the title page that her book was actually by Mrs Glasse 'with considerable additions and corrections, by Maria Wilson'. Finally, in 1809 the Edinburgh confectioner J. Caird issued his Complete Confectioner, which of all the books with this title is my very favourite. Caird's D'Arcy Cream, an ice cream flavoured with marmalade is to die for. Like Nutt's book, Caird's is an entirely original work. Unfortunately this cannot be said of Maria Wilson's additions to Glasse's The Complete Confectioner, as she lifted all of her extra recipes directly from another confectionery manual called The Court and Country Confectioner by a Mr Borella, which was published in c.1770. Although she credits Mrs Glasse, Wilson makes no reference to Mr Borella whatsoever. This dishonest state of affairs, with its unscrupulous borrowings, is fairly typical of the highly dodgy publishing scene of this period. Since Mrs Wilson cheated Borella of any credit, I thought I would set the record straight by giving you one of his recipes which she claims as her own in her additions to Glasse's book.

Borella, who tells us the had been confectioner to the Spanish Ambassador in London, gives us some outstanding recipes. His Muscadine Ice, a lemon water ice flavoured with elderflowers was probably meant to simulate the flavour of Muscatel grapes. He also suggests a variation which includes white currant juice, which I think is one of the greatest water ices ever. Another recipe with a connection to muscatel grapes is an interesting one for clary fritters. Clary or Clear Eye (Salvia sclera L.) is a member of the Labiatae closely related to sage. Its fragrant essential oil has a muscatel scent and it was used to flavour wines to give them a musky character. In my experience of growing the herb, the scent of individual plants can vary from being odourless, to pleasantly musky, to strongly redolent of cat pee. To make the fritters, Borella tells us to dip the clary leaves in a nutmeg flavoured batter with eggs, water, sugar, cream, flour and ratafia water. By the latter he meant an almond flavoured liqueur which was rather similar to amaretto, which you could use today as a substitute. Here is the recipe.

The large leaves dipped in batter and fried in hog's lard look like fillets of sole or other flat fish
The finished fritters dusted with sugar and with their garnish of orange slices

The acidic juice of Seville orange makes a great foil to these lovely fritters, which have a lovely hint of bitter almonds from the ratafia water in the batter mix. Recipes for clary fritters go back a long way and were not just confined to the English kitchen. Taillevent (c.1310-1395) in Le Viandier gives us a recipe for fritelles made from a purée of clary leaves, honey, white wine and flour. The fritelles were fried and then dressed with sugar and rosemary. In medicine, clary was used for treating eye problems, but it also had other applications, one being as a form of early modern period viagra. In The English Physician (London: 1652), the astrologer and herbalist Nicholas Culpepper tells us, 'the seeds or leaves taken in wine, provoketh to venery... the juice of the herb in ale or beer, and drank, promotes the courses.'  Culpepper's sixteenth century predecessor John Gerard in his Herball, or Historie of Plantes (London: 1597) explains that clary was used in making a type of fried tanzie, an Elizabethan cross between a pancake and an omelette.
This recipe for fried clary leaves from William Rabisha, The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected (London: 1661) suggests it could be served as a breakfast dish. His tip to remove the tough strings from the main leaf vein is very sensible
Clarie from John Gerard The Herbal or Historie of Plantes (London: 1597).

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Some Early Bakewell Pudding Recipes

The Castle Inn in Bakewell as it is today
A great deal has been written on the history of the celebrated Bakewell Pudding, much of it I am afraid rather inaccurate nonsense. One shop in Bakewell which makes a version of the pudding from a 'secret recipe' believes it was invented by accident in 1860 in a local inn called the White Horse. They claim it came about through a misunderstanding between the landlord Mrs Graves and her cook, who jumbled up the ingredients for a jam tart incorrectly. This popular legend ignores the fact that recipes for the dish had already been published in the 1830s and that the White Horse had actually been demolished in 1803. There was never a landlady called Mrs Graves at the White Horse, although a family called Greaves did run the Rutland Arms for much of the nineteenth century, the hotel which replaced the old inn. Such though is the nature of commercial chauvinism that the myth is signed off - 'As told by the people who know...' This shop does know how to make rather nice Bakewell puddings, but whoever wrote their web page is no historian. Try googling 'the history of Bakewell pudding' and you will find it is the top hit on the subject. Such is the power of the internet as a vehicle for spreading jabberwocky.

Much confusion surrounds the emergence of recipes for this pudding in nineteenth century printed cookery books. The deep unregulated reaches of the internet are not the only places where you will find mistaken information. Even respectable referenced sources can be at fault. Alan Davidson, in the Oxford Companion to Food (OUP 1999) tells us the earliest published recipe was in Meg Dod's book The Cook and Housewife's Manual (Edinburgh: 1826). It seems strange that a regional dish from Derbyshire would be first published in a Scottish cookery book, but this is an error, as the 1826 first edition of Dod's book does not include a recipe at all. However, a conversation I had with Alan Davidson's widow Jane a few years before her death, revealed that her extraordinary husband owned a copy of the 1862 revised eleventh edition of Dod's book to which the publishers had added extra recipes, including this one for Bakewell Pudding.

Mr Davidson must have mistakenly assumed that the recipe had also appeared in the first edition of Dod's book in 1826. It did not. Plumcake, Food History Jottings' research assistant has searched through the many editions of this work to establish when the Bakewell Pudding recipe was first included. In her incredibly thorough way, she has examined the editions of 1826, 1827, 1829, 1833 and 1837 and still no recipe. The earliest occurrence she has found is in the edition of 1847. So the recipe above was published twenty one years later than Alan Davidson thought. If that is the case, when did the earliest known recipe for Bakewell Pudding really appear? Well, it might seem crazy, but for some time it seemed that the very first directions for making this traditional Derbyshire pudding had not after all been printed in Scotland, but in America! This was in The Family Magazine, a general knowledge collection published in Boston in 1837! This is the recipe,

An identical recipe was issued the same year in Philadelphia by the cookery writer Frances Harriet Green in The Housekeeper's Book. But surely, the earliest recipes for this iconic English pudding could not have  been published first on the other side of the Atlantic? No. There must have been an earlier English source. Well, last year Plumcake discovered the origin of these two recipes in an anonymous English publication called The Magazine of Domestic Economy, issued in London a year earlier in 1836. The two American magazines had copied it word for word. In the previous month's number the English magazine had promised to its readers 'Next month we shall give the far-famed Bakewell pudding.'' Its reputation was just about to become international. Other local legends claim that the pudding first appeared in the kitchen of the Rutland Arms in the 1820s, a chronology that makes slightly more sense than the nonsense quoted at the beginning of this post.

Published in 1836, this book contains the earliest known printed recipe for Bakewell Pudding

Plumcake also found another interesting recipe in a 1948 recipe collection published by the National Federation of Women's Institutes called
Traditional Fare of England and Wales. This little book contains three recipes for Bakewell Pudding, including one with the comment, 'A Mr. Stephen Blair gave £5 for this recipe at the hotel at Bakewell about 1835.' If this was the case, the recipe as written in the WI book has been adapted into modern form. It certainly would not have been written out as is below in 1835. Castor sugar would not have been named as an ingredient at this time.


Line a dish with fine puff paste and spread over it a variety of preserves with strips of candied lemon peel. Then fill the dish with the following mixture -

1/2 lb. butter (clarified)
1/2 lb. castor sugar
10 yolks and 2 whites of eggs.

Flavour with either bitter almonds, lemon, nutmeg or cinnamon. (These ingredients to be well mixed, but not beaten up). Bake in a moderate oven. When cold grate white sugar over pudding. A Mr. Stephen Blair gave £5 for this recipe at the hotel at Bakewell about 1835. 
From Traditional Fare of England and Wales. (London: 1948).

Unfortunately the WI book does not give a primary source for this most interesting recipe. In all the stories about Bakewell Pudding, the Rutland Arms Hotel or the inn that preceded it, the aforementioned White Horse are usually described as the birthplace of the dish. So most would assume that the hotel in Bakewell where Mr Blair bought his recipe was probably one of these. However, I own a manuscript receipt book dated 1835 which has three recipes, one of which names another local inn that seems to feature in the history of the pudding. I am publishing all three of these recipes here. The first recipe was given to the author of the manuscript by a Mrs Anthony of the Castle Hotel in Bakewell. In some ways it is very similar to the Stephen Blair recipe above, except the ingredients have been halved, though there are slightly less egg yolks in the mix. Here it is. 

Mrs Antbony's recipe seems to be the earliest known with a Bakewell provenance. She instructs us to lay strips of candied lemon over a layer of raspberry preserve. 

Mrs Anthony's finished pudding. On a base of homemade puff paste, homemade raspberry preserve and my own preserved lemon peel this pudding is truly delicious, though incredibly rich. It is in a different league to the commercially made ones sold in Bakewell.

The 1835 edition of Pigot's Directory for Derbyshire tells us that the Castle was run at this time by a Mr Richard Anthony. Obviously Mrs Anthony was his wife. Her christian name was Hannah. The hotel, actually an inn,  is still extant and remains a popular local watering hole. Read the page below from the Directory and you will also notice The Rutland Arms, Market Place - proprietor Mr Greaves (the son of the famous Mrs Ann Greaves who is usually credited with first marketing the pudding). And also an inn called the White Horse on Gilliver Hill, a place name which no longer exists in the town. Though this is not the famous White Horse in Market Place which was replaced by the Rutland Arms. There were at one time two establishments called the White Horse in Bakewell. However, as can be seen from this document, the most important hotel of the town in Market Place in 1835 is trading as the Rutland Arms, not as the White Horse. For more information on Mrs Greaves and the local history of the pudding, an article written by Paul Hudson, Mrs Greaves' great-great-great-grandson is well worth reading. There is a link at the end of this post. I am indebted to Mr Hudson for generously sharing his considerable knowledge with me.

The Castle in the early twentieth century. Standing outside are Will, Mary and Katie Hudson. The Hudson family ran the  hotel from 1889 to 1915. Richard and Hannah Anthony had managed it in the first half of the nineteenth century. Photo courtesy of Paul Hudson.

Richard Anthony is named in Pigot's Directory of Derbyshire (1835) as the proprietor of the Castle Inn
The manuscript in which the Castle Inn recipe is included was started in 1835, but this does not mean that the recipe dates from that year, as the book was an ongoing project which may not have been completed for some years. It seems to have been written by a Mrs Norton. But what is fascinating is that Mrs Anthony was living at the Castle Hotel in 1835 and probably baking her Bakewell puddings for her customers. She may also have been selling the recipe to those who were willing to part with the odd fiver. Here are the two other recipes. They are quite different. I have been unable to identify Mrs Pickslay, the authoress of the first one.

Mrs Pickslay's recipe requires a three layered stratum of different preserves, giving the baker freedom of choice. I used quince jam, preserved citron and preserved plums.
Bakewell puddings have sometimes unkindly been compared to cow pats. Mrs Pickslay's is the closest I have ever seen to one. Unlike Mrs Anthony's the custard contains almonds and lemon. I used both the grated rind and juice. Verdict - truly delicious, but again so rich, that only a small helping is required.  

A manuscript recently acquired by Derbyshire Record Office contains a recipe which is very usefully dated 1837. It was compiled by Clara Palmer-Morewood of Alfreton Hall, Alfreton, Derbyshire. As you can see it is quite different to the recipe published in the previous year in The Magazine of Domestic Economy. Until someone locates the original source of the recipe said to have been purchased by Mr Blair in 1835, the magazine's recipe still remains the earliest to go into print.

Carolyn and Richard Young at The Original Farmers Market Shop, Bakewell have been making Bakewell puddings from Clara Palmer-Morewood's recipe. Photo. Courtesy Carolyn and Richard Young.
Alfreton Hall, former home of Clara Palmer-Morewood, the author of the recipe above. Alfreton is 17 miles from Bakewell
What is fascinating is that all these 1830s recipes for Bakewell Pudding are already quite different in character, making the whole question of authenticity rather elastic.

Paul Hudson's article on Bakewell Pudding
Buy Paul Hudson's Books on Bakewell Pudding

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Jubilee Cakes and Ale

From Jubilee Cake by Alice Wellington Rollins in St Nicholas, Vol. 14, Part II, Scribner and Company, 1887. The illustration is by J. M. Nugent.
Food History Jottings' research assistant Plumcake has been investigating the evolution of the wedding cake in Victorian England. She has discovered a rich horde of new material which could well be the subject of a future posting (or two) on this blog. She has also unearthed some fascinating references to a number of cakes made for Queen Victoria's Golden and Diamond Jubilees. The most interesting of these is illustrated above, a 10 foot high monster made by Gunters of Berkeley Square in 1887. Completely forgotten now, but at the time news of this massive cake rapidly spread far and wide. The illustration above is from an American children's magazine, the description below from a New Zealand newspaper

HER MAJESTY'S JUBILEE CAKE. Months ago tho firm of Messrs Gunter in Berkley Square asked permission of Her Majesty to present her with a jubilee cake, on the plea that fifty years ago the same firm supplied the inevitable cake at the Coronation. A special stand has been built for this giant cake, and standing on a splendid cloth of crimson plush, it is certainly a monument and a triumph of the confectioner's art. The following description of the jubilee cake may serve to give some idea of its size and appearance. The cake is about 9ft. 6in. in circumference, 10ft high, and weighs, without the decorations, over a quarter of a ton. The design represents the crown, guarded by lions, surmounted by a temple bearing figures of Fame and Glory, with trumpets in their hands, heralding the Jubilee to the four quarters of the world. These again are surmounted by temples crowned by a winged figure of Peace, bearing the crown of Empire; the panels of the base, embroidered in gold on white satin, and each of which is worth three guineas, bear the Royal monogram, and between them are figures in relief representing the four quarters of the world.
Evening Post, Volume XXXIV, Issue 50, 27 August 1887, Page 1.

A child with a slice of the giant cake as imagined by J. M Nugent.
When I first saw J. M. Nugent's illustration of the cake in Alice Wellington Rollin's article, I was immediately reminded of a confectioner's mould in my own collection which is designed to make two little winged figures of Fame and Glory with trumpets in their hands. This is one of a number I possess which were formerly owned by the celebrated German cake decorator Ernest Schuble. The mould has his initials on the back. Schuble was working in London in 1897 and I wonder if these figures were designed for a Jubilee Cake he made for that year's celebrations.

As well as Gunter's mammoth offering, which was the Queen's official Jubilee Cake for 1887, other confectioners tried their hand at these massive architectural caprices. An article entitled Famous Wedding Cakes in The Harmsworth Magazine (Volume III. Aug. 1899 - Jan. 1900) includes the two illustrations of Jubilee Cakes below, which are quite different to Gunter's creation. Unfortunately the author Walter St. John does not tell us who made these two impressive cakes.

The Queen's Jubilee Cake 1887. This is very different to the cake made in the same year by Gunters illustrated above.

The Queen's Jubilee Cake 1897. Like Gunter's 1898 creation, this cake also features winged figures of Fame and  Glory.
Giant Jubilee Cakes are also a big thing this year. The contemporary London bakers Conditor and Cook are planning to assemble a massive portrait of Queen Elizabeth II out of hundreds of small blocks of gingerbread iced with varying flesh tones. This pixelated portrait will measure 94 square feet and contain over 3120 diamond shaped gingerbread blocks. It will be put together in Battersea Park on June 3rd. You will be able to buy one of its ginger flavoured diamonds for £1. Bettys of Harrogate have made a large, tiered cake based on designs submitted by Yorkshire school children, which is on its way to Buckingham Palace as I write. 

Celebratory cakes associated with royal jubilees have been around since 1809, when small cakes were thrown from the Market Hall in Abingdon, Oxfordshire for the pleasure of the crowds whooping up the jubilee of George III. In a little book called Jubilee Jottings (London: 1887), the historian Thomas Preston gives us some details, 

'In the evening several barrels of beer were set out in the Market Place for the poor, and Jubilee cakes in great number were thrown amongst the crowd from the top of the Market House, this being a repetition of a similar ceremony which took place at His Majesty's Accession in 1750. One of the cakes then scrambled for was exhibited by Mr. John Waite, a member of the corporation, who had carefully preserved it during the long period of close on half a century. This souvenir was considered of sufficient interest to be shown to the king.'

Jubilee cakes will be thrown again in Abingdon this June. If you visit the museum housed in the old Market Hall, you can see authentic examples from both Victoria's 1887 and 1897 jubilee celebrations. These ancient mummified cakes inform us that the Abingdon Jubilee Cakes were fairly commonplace current buns. They were washed down with plenty of beer.  Special beers were brewed for George III's Jubilee celebrations all over the country, an exercise I am pleased to say is being carried out again this year by a number of contemporary breweries. We learn from Preston that the brewers in Towcester, Hadley, Stoneleigh, Northampton and a few other towns, concocted a special commemorative ale, a 'two year old October' especially for the event. The 1809 celebrations were held on October 25th, so the brewers made a special version of their customary October Ale in 1807 and laid it down for two years to mature. Across the country, similar strong ales were doled out to the poor with an allowance of 'two quarts for a man, one quart for a woman, and half a pint for each child.' Preston also gives us some interesting statistics regarding the number of barrels brewed by the large London brewers in the year 1809-10, as a result of the celebrations a much greater quantity than usual.

Free buns also featured prominently at an open air party for children in Hyde Park during Queen Victoria's 1887 Jubilee, though by this time, the kiddies' half pint of beer had been replaced with ginger beer and lemonade. Another contemporary newspaper report in far off New Zealand offered some impressive statistics.

Jubilee buns like those hurled at Abingdon were plain current buns, while the cakes hidden under the giant Victorian fantasies were made of rich fruit cake. There are very few historical recipes for Jubilee Cake, but here is one Plumcake found which you might like to try.

Jubilee Cake

Ingredients: 1 bag of flour (3½lbs.), cost, 6½d.; 1 tablespoonful of baking powder, 1d.;

½lb. lard, 3d.; 1lb. raw white sugar, 1½d.; 1lb. raisins, 4d.; ½lb. sultanas, 2d.;

½lb. mixed peel, 2d.; 1½ pints milk, 1½d.;

Total cost, 1s. 9½d.

Method: Mix the flour and baking powder well together; then rub in the lard till none can be found; add the fruit, sugar, and peel (cut into neat pieces), and mix thoroughly. Stir all well together with the milk, adding a little more if not sufficient to make a stiff batter. Divide into two cakes, and bake about two hours in well-greased tins. This cake is quite wholesome for children, who may eat quite a large piece without harm. I have used it 20 years. I never use currants, as they are very unwholesome for children, for they never digest. It is better to seed the raisins, as they are apt to cause irritation to the stomach of children. This cake may be made by leaving out the raisins and sultanas, adding four eggs instead, or a few seeds. ― W. A. BISHOP

From Favourite Cakes of Rural England, The Cable Series of Farm and Household Books No.2, 2nd ed. [1899] contributed by Country Housewives.

What did George III have for his Jubilee dinner? According to this satirical print, a pie filled with troublesome baronets! The 25th October 1809 was not a good day for turtles, as many were consumed at the Jubilee feasts of the wealthy.
Perhaps the most fascinating story relating to a 1809 Jubilee dinner was the decision by the Corporation of London to forego their feast and donate the money to the liberation of debtors. They passed the following motion, 'That this Court is of opinion that it will be more acceptable to Almighty God, and more congenial to the paternal feelings of our beloved Sovereign, to promote the liberation of the prisoner and the captive on the joyful Jubilee about to be celebrated than in expending sums of money in feasting and illuminations; therefore do resolve that the sum of 1000l. be subscribed out of the City's cash to the Society for the Discharge of persons confined for debts in the prisons of this city.' However, the Lord Mayor was so pleased with this altruistic decision that he invited the Corporation to a light repast of cold beef in the  Mansion House at his own expense. He then changed his mind and informed them, 'Gentlemen! As hot beef is better than cold, if you please you shall have it hot.' The hot beef developed into a full meal and the Corporation enjoyed their feast after all, served on silver plate in the beautifully llluminated Egyptian Hall of the Mansion House.*

An 1887 artist's impression of debtors being released from Jail in 1809
An 1887 artist's impression of the feast in the Mansion House on October 25th 1809
*John Ashton, The Jubilee of George III. The Graphic, April 23. 1887, pp.433-4.