19th Century

  1. Petticoat Tails and Pitcaithly Bannock - This might seem like a double recipe post, but it is more of a ‘two for one’ in that the same ingredients can be presented in different ways, depending on your inclination and the effort you wish to put in. So… Petticoat Tails. Much has already been made of the contortion of ‘petites gatelles’ into […]
  2. Turkey Salmi Turkey Salmi - This week I’d like to talk turkey and making champagne tastes on a beer budget. Just look at that crisp, golden pastry and glossy, rich sauce covering the tender pieces of turkey! Turkey is a staple on the festive dinner table, but the preference for the pale breast meat has seen the rise of the […]
  3. Steak and Kidney Pudding - I enjoyed reading this tweet a few weeks ago: The best thing to hear when you ask someone to explain their hobby or interest is them starting with “okay, so..” cause they’re about to rant for at least 30 minutes straight with no breaks and it’s the most adorable shit in the world. — Terminally […]
  4. Toad In The Hole - Toad In The Hole was a favourite dish of my childhood, and also one of the first dishes I made when I began cookery lessons at school, aged 11. Toad in the Hole is a traditional lunch or supper dish combining sausages and a standard Yorkshire Pudding batter. The earliest mention attributed by the Oxford […]
  5. Hot Cross Buns - More interesting than toast, not as rich as cake, what’s not to love about a bun?  The buns traditionally served towards then end of Lent are… well now, here’s the thing. They go by many names. Most people might think, as the title above implies, that they’re Hot Cross Buns, but that’s not strictly accurate. […]
  6. Querkles - These biscuits are great to have to hand in the cupboard for enjoying with cheese or jam, with butter, or serve them completely unadorned with drinks for toothsome and low-fat snacking – they may look plain, but they’re very moreish. When I was writing last week’s post about Almacks, I thought to myself: I can […]
  7. Almacks - Almacks (also Almack’s and Almack) is one of many recipes that have originated from people copying dishes they have enjoyed whilst eating out. Almack’s was a Georgian/Regency London club where the great and the good could socialise during ‘the season’, Pontacks is another such establishment, now equally long gone, whose reputation remains only in the […]
  8. Oaten Biscuits - The recipes this week come from a classic Victorian book “Biscuits for Bakers” (1896) by Frederick T. Vine. They are essentially two versions of the same biscuit, one sweet, one plain. The method and baking time for both is the same, with the only difference being some of the ingredients: more sugar and butter in […]
  9. Empty Pudding - Sometimes I stumble across a hidden gem of a recipe when I am supposed to be hunting out something else. Thus it is with this recipe that I found in a nondescript Edwardian cook book¹. There are several things that drew me to this recipe. Firstly, the name, which is curious, and after following the […]
  10. Soda Bread Soda Bread - I was surprised to read recently that Soda Bread is considered to have migrated from the US, based on a notion that the early settlers used potash to improve their baking. Amelia Simmons (1796) uses potash in some of her gingerbread recipes and Mary Randolph includes a recipe for Soda Cake in her 1824 book […]
  11. Chelsea Buns Chelsea Buns - Back in  2013 I wrote an article on the history of Chelsea Buns, ultimately included in my book Great British Bakes which culminated in a recipe suggestion for the original Chelsea Buns. I based the recipe on anecdotes that appeared in various publications on the borough of Chelsea and its surroundings, mostly written in the […]
  12. Hot Cross Buns Barm Hot Cross Buns - This recipe is taken from George Read’s mid-nineteenth century “The Complete Biscuit and Gingerbread Baker’s Assistant” (1854). It is a comprehensive handbook of all the recipes a baker might need, covering biscuits both hard and soft, cakes, gingerbread, buns, muffins and crumpets. It is available as a free-to-download PDF here. Obviously commercial bakers would be […]
  13. Wholemeal Barm Bread Barm Bread - Here is a basic barm bread recipe for you to use with your home-made potato barm. I am still experimenting with recipes other than loaves of bread, and will hopefully be able to post some other uses in due course, but in the meantime, I present to you a basic recipe, and some suggestions of […]
  14. Barm and Barm Bread Barm - Barm is what we used to use to make bread before the advent of solid, compressed yeast. It was skimmed off the top of fermenting beer and occasionally wine, and, back in the day when everyone was drinking small beer and ale because water couldn’t be relied on, was in ready supply. Nowadays, it is […]
  15. Cornish Pasties Cornish Pasties - Usually I like to begin by talking about the history behind a recipe, but there’s not much hard evidence with Cornish pasties. I would, however, like to clear up a few potential misconceptions before getting to the interesting stuff. Cornwall does not have a monopoly on the word ‘pasty’. Devon does not have a monopoly […]
  16. Sultana Tarts - This recipe comes, once again, from the pen of Frederick T. Vine. I like it because it shows how much can be achieved with a very small number of ingredients. I chose it because ’tis the season and is also a great way to present mince pies, making the most of each component. Mince pies […]
  17. Frederick Vine's Meaty Mincemeat Mincemeat a la Royale - This recipe dating from 1900 sits right on the cusp of the centuries and comes from the pastry manual “Savoury Pastry” written by Frederick T. Vine. I have a bit of a thing for Mr Vine and his manuals. Written for the bakery trade, they are packed with recipes for the variations and huge range […]
  18. Brown Bread Drops Brown Bread Drops - Brown Bread Drops, circa 1900, Harris & Borella, All About Biscuits A large part of my interest in old recipes is driven by always being on the lookout for something a little bit different. People tend to be a little wary of old recipes, in part due to the “Ew!” factor of TV programs on […]
  19. Godcakes, Coventrys & Congleton Cakes Coventrys, Godcakes and Congleton Cakes - It’s all about triangular pastries this week. Let us start with Coventreys (middle pastry in the above photo). Essentially, these are jam turnovers, but there are a few key characteristics that set them apart from your average turnover. For a start they are triangular, formed by cutting circles of puff pastry, adding a teaspoon of […]
  20. Sultan Cream Tart Sultan Cream Tart - This tart is a pleasant change from round or rectangular tarts and has the added advantage of being able to be made in any size required, from small, serving just one person to large, serving eight. Of course, if you’re feeling peckish, then one person could probably eat a large one, but I’m going to […]
  21. Plum Cannons Plum Cannons - These eye-catching pastries are, essentially, a jam turnover, but with a little deft handling, they are transformed into an unusual and appealing shape. Another hit from the team of Harris and Borella’s All About Pastries, they date from the turn of the nineteenth century. The original recipe suggested Greengage conserve for the filling, but alas, […]
  22. Dutch Macaroons Dutch Macaroons - Macaroons have been a favourite British treat for centuries. Their form, shapes and flavours might have changed over the years, but they basically remain a mixture of sugar, ground nuts and egg white. These colourful specimens come from Harris & Borella’s All About Biscuits (c1900), a commercial handbook for the Victorian/Edwardian baker. Unlike the modern […]
  23. Old Fashioned Cheesecakes Old Fashioned Cheesecakes - These cheesecake recipes come from a favourite book – All About Pastries, from the All About… Confectionery Series by H.G.Harris & S.P Borella (circa 1900). The recipes are all for commercial quantities, but I’ve become quite adept at scaling them down to more manageable batches. They were simpler times back then, and ‘cheesecakes’ weren’t always […]
  24. Lancashire Butter Pie Lancashire Butter Pie - The Lancashire Butter Pie is a regional, traditional pie specific to western Lancashire, especially the area around Preston, and has also been known as Friday Pie and Catholic Pie. Preston has traditionally had a strong Catholic presence. In Tudor times, it was resistant – and at times downright hostile – to the Reformation. In 1583 […]
  25. Apple Snow Apple Snow - This recipe is more usually served in the late summer and autumn months, but I’ve chosen it now because the weather outside today has carpeted the garden with a thick layer of snow. This is a classic dessert whose provenance stretches back centuries. Although the name ‘Apple Snow’ is the one more usually found in […]
  26. Dundee Marmalade Marmalade - It’s that time of year, when Seville oranges are in the shops and marmalade is the name of the game. For the competitively-minded, the Marmalade Awards are an annual competition to find the best marmalades across a number of categories. Whatever your forte  –  plain Seville, dark and chunky, boozy – or even if you […]
  27. Chutney Trio Chutney - I’m going to open this post with a statement: “There is nothing that can transform a platter of cold meats and/or cheeses more easily than chutney.” Me, just now. Bold? Possibly, but with justification. Every chutney, from the lowest of the  low-shelf, supermarket budget jars to the very best of hand-crafted and home-made pots contains […]
  28. Damson Preserves Damson Preserves - Here’s a trio of preserves that champion one of my favourite sorts of food – free stuff! Damsons grow wild in the hedgerows and along the canal banks and lanes of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire, and the only cost is your time to pick them. They are tart, wild plums, about the size and shape […]
  29. Wholewheat Oat Bread Wholemeal Oat Bread - For a number of years, my favourite brown bread has been the Grant Loaf, partly due to the almost ridiculously easy method of preparation, and partly due to its deliciousness, especially when either freshly baked, or lightly toasted. However, even the most ardent of fans will admit that it is not a light loaf. It […]
  30. Meringue Shapes Shaping Meringues - I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with meringues. On the one hand they are extremely simple to make, with just two ingredients, but on the other, for the most part, they are almost universally blobby. Not such a defect, you might think, but it doesn’t help the elegance of a dish when one’s […]
  31. Soda Cake (1835) MS4645, Wellcome Library Soda Cake - This was a spur-of-the-moment bake this week, and in just over 1 hour after reading the recipe, I was taking this picture. Not as fast as scones, admittedly, but made from store-cupboard ingredients and comes together in mere minutes. I found the recipe in a manuscript recipe book from The Wellcome Library, an impressively long-lived […]
  32. Malt Scones Malt Scones - My current lack of oven (for those interested the ETA is currently mid-February) has prompted me to delve into my small but eminently interesting collection of Victorian and Edwardian commercial bakery books in search of something to ‘bake’. Back in the day, there were numerous recipes that could be baked on a griddle, a far […]
  33. Staffordshire Oatcakes - Staffordshire Oatcakes are, quite possibly, the best regional speciality you’ve never heard of. In fact, that is much more of a generalisation than you may realise, because they’re specifically regional to North Staffordshire, centering on the area around Stoke-on-Trent. It’s historic origins are mixed, with some anecdotes suggesting they originated from soldiers returning from India […]
  34. Venison and Potato Pie Venison Pie - This is a great Deja Food way to transform the cooked venison from a joint into another meal. Since the filling has already been cooked, there is little shrinkage during baking, thus making it a fabulously sturdy picnic pie once cold. Whichever way you choose to enjoy it, remember to serve with redcurrant jelly. Venison […]
  35. Christmas Pie Christmas Pie - Charles Elmé Francatelli, 1863 This is a version of the traditional raised pie that graced the sideboards of many a rich household going back centuries. With much time being devoted to celebrating the festive season, the amount of time spent waiting on the kitchen could be drastically reduced with a sideboard groaning under selection of […]
  36. Potted Shrimp Potted Prawn, Shrimp or Crayfish - This recipe was chosen for it’s multi-purposeness , because you can use this method for any of the above-mentioned seafood, or perhaps even a mixture of two or three. Potting used to be a means of preserving, the clarified butter being used to make the contents impervious to air-borne microbes, etc. Properly potted food could […]
  37. Fruit Charlotte Fruit Charlotte - This is a deliciously simple, autumnal dessert that, although it can be assembled from very few, ordinary ingredients, ends up tasting so much better than the sum of its parts – the crisp, golden outside, hot and sharp insides and cool cream or hot, rich custard make this a dish of delicious contrasts. It is […]
  38. Shrewsbury Pudding Tart Shrewsbury Pudding Tart - Georgiana Hill, 1862 Here is something a little different for the adventurous, an unusual dessert in the form of a gloriously vibrant beetroot tart: given an official Thumb’s Up™ by my daughter. I’ve tweaked this recipe slightly and baked it in a pastry case, for ease of serving. The original method was for a buttered-and-breadcrumbed […]
  39. Bara Briths, 1930s Bara Brith - This week it’s the classic Welsh speckled bread Bara Brith. Nowadays, this is usually made using baking powder as the leavener, but personally I prefer the more traditional yeast. And bonus! There’s two recipes for you to choose from! When looking at an old recipe, I usually study the range of recipes available and select […]
  40. Muffins, 1826 Fresh Yeast Muffins - Some of you might know that there’s already a muffin recipe on the blog. Nevertheless, I decided to revisit muffins in part because it is now ridiculously easy to get hold of fresh yeast, but also because a lot of muffin recipes and videos Out There™ are just plain wrong when it comes to the […]
  41. Dundee Cake Dundee Cake - This recipe is fabulous – and this recommendation is coming from an until-recently Dundee-Cake-Disliker. The crust is crisp but delicately thin, the insides delicately moist and buttery, rich with the sweetness of sultanas and the tang of candied orange peel. The modern Dundee Cake has an iconic appearance: the carefully laid-out pattern of whole, blanched […]
  42. Whitsun Cake Whitsun Cake - Wotchers! Time was, we used to mark the passing of the year with festivals and their associated foods. The list of celebrations that have continued into the 21st century is a lot shorter than it used to be: pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, Simnel Cake on Mothering Sunday, Cross Buns on Good Friday are about all […]
  43. Radnor Cranberry Tart Radnor Cranberry Tart - If you have an extended social life in the run-up to Christmas, and sample nothing but mince pies throughout December, by the time you get to the 25th, what with the Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding, you can be all mince-pied out. Also, sometimes you find yourself fancying something a little savoury at the end […]
  44. Mince Pies Royale from 1845 Mince Pies Royale - Here is a great recipe for stretching a small amount of mincemeat into 30+ rich and delicious seasonable bites. It is adapted from a recipe by Eliza Acton, and I’ve taken the opportunity to pair it with another of her recipes which she refers to as “Superlative Mincemeat”. Taking as an example my adaptation of […]
  45. Sheets and Blankets - This is an unusual and wonderfully quirky recipe. I’ve adapted it from a description found in John White’s “A Treatise on the Art of Baking” from 1828, free copy available here. It is made from a mixture of both wheat and rye doughs, but instead of the more usual marbling effect, the doughs are laid […]
  46. Apple Bread Apple Bread - This recipe was copied from the Ipswich Journal into the manuscript book from a Norfolk household in the early 19th century. The manuscript was eventually purchased by the Wellcome Library and its contents digitised and made available online, which is where I discovered it. It was the simplicity of the recipe that appealed – just […]
  47. Coconut Gingerbread Cakes Coconut Gingerbread Cakes - Gingerbread is such a classic teatime treat – and I’m a huge fan of classics – it’s just that I don’t usually feel very inspired when I hear the word ‘gingerbread’. I think of a treacle-dark cake, rich, sticky and aromatic with ginger – sounds delicious, no? – but the main thing that springs to […]