Sunday 4 August 2013

Jaune Mange

Charlotte Mason's 1773 Jaune Mange made in the form of the sun
When I was a child in the 1950s, a common sweet served at our school dinners was blancmange, a milk pudding thickened with cornflour, or more likely made up from a commercial packet mixture. We all hated it, probably because it usually had the same pink colour as the surgical plasters of the period. Without any knowledge of French, it never occurred to us that its name implied it should actually be white. Little also did we know that this despised dish had a remarkably long history with numerous extant recipes dating back to the thirteenth century. It was a dish that seemed to know no national boundaries. Recipes were included in cookery texts written in every European language. Early versions usually contained minced capon breast, or even fish (or fish spawn) on days when meat was outlawed. Its other common ingredients were rice, almonds, milk or cream, rosewater and sugar. It could be a bland food for invalids or an ornamented dish for gracing the tables at major state events. The early fifteenth century English version below belonged to the latter category and was 'flourished' with red and white anise comfits and almonds. 

A recipe from  The Forme of Cury for Blank Maunger. This is a page from a c.1420s version of the text - courtesy John Rylands Library, University of Manchester. The original text dates from the 1390s. This early English recipe, just like its continental cousins includes shredded capon's breast. Here is a transcription,

Blank Maunger. XXXVI. Take Caponis and seeþ hem, þenne take hem up. take Almandes blaunched. grynd hem and alay hem up with the same broth. cast the mylk in a pot. waisshe rys and do þerto and lat it seeþ. þanne take brawn of Capouns teere it small and do þerto. take white grece sugur and salt and cast þerinne. lat it seeþ. þenne messe it forth and florissh it with aneys in confyt rede oþer whyt. and with Almaundes.
Versions with meat no longer survive in modern Europe, though in Turkey a sweet set pudding called Tavuk göğsü is still very popular. Like the older European incarnations of blancmange this is made with chicken breast, milk and rice flour. It is so similar to medieval blancmange that it must be linked in some way. It is delicious and refreshing. In eighteenth century Britain, where the chicken breast and rice started to be omitted in the early eighteenth century, the dish was more usually thickened with isinglass. By the second half of the eighteenth century blancmange borrowed the name of a native set pudding called flummery, which was originally congealed with oatmeal. In the culinary literature of this period the terms flummery and blancmange are usually interchangeable.  Flummeries and blancmanges were frequently allowed to cool in moulds and turned out in a remarkable variety of decorative forms, with an important industry producing both wooden and ceramic moulds for making them in. 

Much has been written about blancmange, mainly regarding its history in the medieval and early modern period.* But very little is ever said about a close relative called jaunmange or jaune mange, a dish, which despite its French name, seems to be an entirely English creation. As its name suggests, it is yellow in colour due to the inclusion of egg yolks in the composition. Despite a long and thorough search, I have found no versions of this dish in French recipe collections. The earliest printed recipe I know is in Charlotte Mason, The Lady's Assistant (London; 1773). I am currently searching eighteenth century manuscripts for the dish, but have so far not found any that predate Mason's recipe. Here it is.

From Charlotte Mason, The Lady's Assistant (London; 1773)

A Staffordshire salt glazed stoneware mould c1760. I used this to make the jaunmange above. 

Charlotte Mason not only gives a recipe, she also offers a table plan which features the dish

There are many later recipes for Jaune Mange. Both English and American recipe collections in the nineteenth century frequently include at least one. J. H. Walsh in The British Cookery Book (London: 1864) gives three -

J. H. Walsh in The British Cookery Book (London: 1864)
Mason's recipe employs Seville orange juice as a flavouring, while most of the later authors substitute this with lemon juice. I have made it with both and prefer the Seville Orange version. It should have a light set and a really delicate mouth feel, so if you make it with gelatine, be very sparing. 

* Three noteworthy essays on the early history of blancmange are,

Gillian Goodwin, ‘Blancmange.’ History Today 35, no. 7: 60, 1985.

Allen J. Grieco – ‘From the Cookbook to the Table: A Florentine Table and Italian Recipes of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries,’ in Du Manuscrit a la Table, edited by Carole Lambert, Paris: Champion – Slatkine - 1992.

Constance B. Hieatt - Sorting Through the Titles of Medieval Dishes: What is, or Is Not, a ‘Blanc Manger,'' in Food in the Middles Ages: A Book of Essays. Edited by Melitta Weiss Adamson, New York: Garland : 1995


  1. Would love to try one; I never knew isinglass was used as a foodstuff. Love the mold.

    1. I was wondering about the isinglass too. When I looked it up in Miriam Webster, I found 2 definitions- the first was a semitransparent whitish very pure gelatin prepared from the air bladders of fishes (such as sturgeons) and used especially as a clarifying agent and in jellies and glue and the second was mica that is split into thin sheets (Think of the song "Surrey with the Fringe on top- "With eisenglass curtains you can roll right down") and the second was

  2. gorgeous mold

  3. Thanks for the post! I'd never heard of blancmange, but it immediately reminded me of almond jelly, which has a similar appearance despite very different origins.