Posted in Bringing Alive The Past, History, TV Programme, Vintage

Viva Blancmange

Copper mould, possibly mid to late Victorian. The mould was pretty dirty when I got it. I used lemon, salt, a stiff-bristled toothbrush and plenty of elbow grease to clean it. Then a good scrub using hot, soapy water. Worked a treat.

I am currently having fun experimenting with blancmange. Researching its history, creating new recipe combinations and trying-out different moulds.  I thought you might be interested to see one of my latest successes using a newly acquired (second-hand!) copper mould. I say success, because for each blancmange ‘ta dah’ moment, a number of failures have gone before.

This time was no exception.  The set weight of my blancmange meant that I had to add a lot of extra cornflour to the mixture in order to help stabilise the final structure. Previous attempts with a lesser amount of cornflour had resulted in the blancmange splitting within minutes of being released from its mould. For the purposes of this experiment I wanted the blancmange to retain its infamous wobble but still remain intact for several hours.

Each mould requires a different technique from the cook. For example, a copper mould retains heat longer than an earthenware one thus requiring extra cooling time before being placed in the refrigerator to set.  Also remember that modern silicon and plastic moulds don’t require quite such a lengthy refrigeration time.

Size of your mould has a bearing on the recipe quantities too. The mould featured here specifies ‘1 1/2 pints’ of liquid.  However, it took nearly two pints of liquid, extra cornflour and a total of seven hours to set. The bigger the blancmange the more setting agent you will need to add to achieve a firm set.

Don’t forget to adjust your flavour combinations too. If you are making cornflour based blancmange, as I always do, then adding extra cornflour without adjusting the quantities of your other flavourings could mean that the blancmange will have a chalky aftertaste to it.

Remember to lightly oil your moulds before you start making the blancmange mixture.  Vintage moulds often have intricate patterns inside, all the nooks and crannies must be properly lubricated.  Don’t over grease, if in doubt blot with kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.

I cannot be sure of the exact date of this copper mould but I have found similar ones on several antique auction websites. All of which have been dated mid to late Victorian.  There are no company marks on the mould, only a numerical reference, ‘F335A – 1 1/2 pint’.

I will leave you with one other fun fact that I have discovered about blancmange. It has featured in an iconic British TV series. In 1969, blancmange linked together a series of four Monty Python sketches (season 1, episode 7 You’re No Fun Anymore).  The final sketch in the series, ‘blancmanges playing tennis’, is hysterical. Thank goodness for You Tube because here is the episode in question. Viva blancmange  I say!  CLICK HERE.

Further Resources

  • For a superb selection of historic blancmange recipes then try www.vintagerecipes.net. There are so many different types of blancmange recipe included on the site, sourced from nineteenth and early twentieth century cookbooks.  For the blancmange recipes. CLICK HERE.;
  • Or for a more up-to-date blancmange recipe, try Delia Smith’s ‘Chocolate Blancmange with Cappuccino Sauce’. CLICK HERE;
  • Listen to New Zealand’s Aunt Daisy talking about how to make Brown & Polson’s cornflour blancmange on the ZB morning show. Aunt Daisy (real name Maud Ruby Basham MBE) was born London, 1879 and emigrated to New Plymouth, New Zealand in 1891. She was a well-known radio personality on New Zealand radio between 1930 and 1963. She died in 1963. To hear the broadcast CLICK HERE.

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11 thoughts on “Viva Blancmange

    1. Hi Evangeline,

      I am delighted to say that this blancmange was delicious. Orange zest, full-fat cream (if you use semi-skimmed your blancmange will collapse!), cornflour, caster sugar, essence of orange blossom flower water and a few drops of natural food colouring. I obviously had help in eating it, my husband is a recent convert to blancmange. Blancmange is a much misunderstood dessert but if it is made well and the flavour combinations well-balanced it is delicious. Do you like blancmange Evangeline?

      Best wishes.
      Emma

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    1. Hi Neil,

      Great to hear from you again. Go for it with a blancmange and jelly post. I think it is time blancmange had a revival anyway. There is so much history behind these two desserts. I am child of the 1970s – every birthday party we ate blancmange. My mum often used to make a rabbit shaped blancmange. I have always loved this dessert. Do you like blancmange Neil? I ask because everyone I ask seems to have a blancmange story – either good or bad! I really look forward to reading what you have written. As I say, Viva Blancmange!

      Best wishes
      Em

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    2. Hi Neil,

      Its me again! I didn’t realise that you had moved back to the UK from the US. I see that you have set-up a new business The Buttery in Manchester. I wish you all the best with your new venture. I have looked at your September specials, what a great, traditional menu. I will be sure to pop-in and say hi if I am in Manchester. Congratulations.

      Best wishes Em.

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      1. Ha-ha! It is going quite well thus far. I am at the moment deciding what to do for October’s specials – I’m trying to get hold of quinces for some preserves and pies. Hopefully someone will have some….

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      2. Good luck sourcing quinces Neil, lovely old-fashioned fruit that is making a comeback. I have a lovely quince marmalade recipe – well actually it is Eliza Acton’s (1799-1859) recipe. If you want it then e-mail direct and I can send it to you.
        Best wishes Em.

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