Posted in History, Mrs Beeton, Museum, Vintage

Vintage Ice Cream

Vintage ice-cream cart. On display at Portsmouth City Museum.

Hoorah, Summer has finally arrived in Southern England.  Temperatures are reaching 30◦C and I find myself daydreaming of jelly, ice-cream and al fresco dining.

According to food historian Kate Colquhoun, in her brilliant book Taste: The Story of Britain Through its Cooking (2007), ice cream or cream ice as it was originally known, first appeared in Britain in 1671:

….a single sweetened cream ice was served to Charles II at the Garter Feast of 1671 at St. George’s Hall – its first written record in Britain….The difficulty in Britain lay in finding ice at the height of summer.  James I had snow pits dug for storing ice cut from lakes and rivers in winter.  Two brick-lined pits were constructed at Greenwich in 1620 and another at Hampton Court five years later…Charles II, began to construct ice-houses in Upper St. James’s Park.  The Duchess of Lauderdale was one of the first to copy him, at Ham House, and by the time Celia Fiennes toured the country on horseback in 1702, she was able to note several ice-houses without surprise.


Cream-freezer illustration featured in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1915 edition.

A bowl containing cream mixture is placed in a bucket and the gap between the bowl and bucket is filled-in with ice.  Salt is added to the ice and the cream mixture in the bowl begins to freeze. When salt melts ice it draws heat away from anything it touches, therefore the temperature reduces around the bowl and the cream mixture freezes.

Stork fountain (1872) made by Minton & Company. Made of pottery and painted with majolica opaque glaze colour. The fountain was made for the Royal Dairy in Windsor Great Park. Jets of cold water from the fountain cooled the air in days before refrigeration was available. On display at Portsmouth City Museum.

The Victorians, including Queen Victoria, loved ice-cream.  Writing in her Journal at Windsor Castle, on Sunday 24th November 1839, she mentions the economic impact to the Royal household of creating an ice cellar: ‘ …as the expense of getting ice was so enormous, and that the Queen Dowager got all hers from Hampton Court.’ (p. 81, Lord Esher’s typescript, for original CLICK HERE)

Food historian extraordinaire, Ivan Day, has a superb website, www.historicfood.coma must-read for all devotees of food history.  It is currently my favourite site, well-written, nicely illustrated and easy to navigate around.  The recipes section is a particular favourite of mine, do have a look at the section on ‘Georgian Ices’, it contains a history of ice-cream and some recipes to try (CLICK HERE). Ivan runs a wide range of historic cookery courses too, including ‘Dairy and Ices’ which includes a lesson on how to make moulded ices Victorian style.

Illustration showing the vast range of ice-cream and jelly moulds available in Edwardian and Victorian times. Illustration from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition).

My Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition) has a large number of ‘Recipes for Ices’. Mrs B also includes a substantial instructions on the equipment and process involved in making ice-cream.  Here are some extracts:

Freezing Machines

Recent years have introduced a variety of machines for making ices, but the ordinary old-fashioned pewter freezing pot still holds its own, and deservedly so, for it is reliable and satisfactory in every way, although its use entails a little more labour on the operator, and the process is slower than with the newly invented machines. Nearly all the machines in present use are supplied with an outer compartment constructed to hold the ice and salt, and an inner receptacle in which the mixture to be frozen is placed, and revolved by means of a handle. (p.988)

Freezing Mixture

The materials usually employed for this purpose are ice and coarse salt, or freezing salt, the correct proportion being 1lb of salt to 7 or 8lb of ice.  More salt than this is often added with a view to making the mixture freeze more quickly, which it does for a short time, but the large proportion of salt causes the ice to speedily melt, and the freezing operation comes to a standstill unless the ice is frequently renewed.  The ice tub or outer compartment of the freezing machine must be filled with alternate layers of crushed ice and salt.  A good layer of ice at the bottom of the tub enables the freezing pot to turn more easily and more quickly than if it were placed on the bare wood. (p.988)

Preparation of Ices

The mixture to be frozen is placed in the freezing machine, and the lid firmly secured.  When the vessel has been quickly turned for a short time, a thin coating of ice will have formed on the sides.  This must be scraped down with the spatula, and well mixed with the liquid contents, and as soon as another layer has formed it must be dealt with in the same manner.  This, and the turning, is continued until the mixture acquires a thick creamy consistency, when it is ready for moulding.  To ensure success the following rules should be observed:

  1. Avoid putting warm mixtures into the freezing pot;
  2. Add sweetening ingredients with discretion;
  3. Avoid, as much as possible, the use of tin and copper utensils;
  4. Carefully wipe the lid of the freezer before raising it, so as to prevent any salt getting into the mixture. (p.989)

Moulding Ices

The ice, in the semi-solid condition in which it is taken from the freezing machine, is put into dry moulds, and well shaken and pressed down in the shape of them.  If there is the least doubt about the lid fitting perfectly, it is better to seal the opening with a layer of lard, so as to effectually exclude the salt and ice.  In any case the mould should be wrapped in 2 or 3 folds of kitchen paper when the freezing has to be completed in a pail.  1 part of salt should be added to 3 parts of ice, and the quantity must be sufficient to completely surround the mould.  It should be kept covered with ice and salt for 3 or 4 hours, when it will be ready to unmould.  When a charged ice cave is available, the ice is simply moulded, placed in the cave, and kept there until sufficiently frozen. (p. 989)

Unmoulding Ices

Ices should be kept in the moulds, buried in ice, until required.  When ready to serve, remove the paper and the lard when it has been used, dip the mould into cold water, and turn the ice on to a dish in the same ways as a jelly or cream. (p. 989)

 Banana Cream Ice

Ingredients: 1 1/4 pints of custard, 1/4 of a pint of cream, 6 bananas, 1 tablespoonful of lemon-juice, 1 tablespoonful of Curaçoa or brandy.

Method: Pass the bananas through a fine hair sieve.  Prepare the custard as directed, and whip the cream stiffly.  When the custard is sufficiently cool, add the banana pulp, lemon-juice and Curaçoa, stir the cream in lightly, and freeze.

Biscuit Cream Ice

Ingredients: Ice-cream, Savoy biscuits.

Method: Line a plain ice mould with Savoy biscuits, put in the frozen cream ice, cover, and pack in ice until required.

Cherry Cream Ice

Ingredients: 1 pint of custard, 3/4 lb of ripe cherries, 2 ozs of castor sugar, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoonful of Kirschwasser or other liquer, carmine (or in the 21st century red food colouring!).

Method: Stone the fruit, crack the stones, take out the kernels, place both cherries and kernels in a basin, add the sugar, lemon-juice, Kirschwasser, cover, and let the preparation stand for 1/2 an hour.  Then pour all into a copper stewpan, add 1/2 a pint of water, cook until the cherries are tender and rub through a fine sieve.  Add the prepared custard and a few drops of carmine, and freeze.

Iced Tutti-Frutti

Ingredients: 1 oz of pistachios, blanched and shredded, 1 oz of glacé cherries, 1oz of glacé apricots, 1/2 an oz of mixed candied peel, all cut into small dice, 1/2 a pint of cream stiffly whipped, 1/2 a gill of Maraschino, 2 whites of eggs stiffly whipped, vanilla essence, 8 ozs of sugar, 5 yolks of eggs, 1 pint of milk.

Method: Boil the milk, add the yolks of eggs and sugar, stir and cook very gently for a few minutes, then strain and, when cold, add vanilla essence to taste.  Partially freeze, add the whites of eggs, cream, nuts and fruit, and when the freezing process is nearly completed, put in the Maraschino.

Syrup for Water Ices

Ingredients: 2 lbs of loaf sugar, 1 pint of water.

Method: Put the sugar and water into a copper sugar-boiler or stewpan; when dissolved place over a clear fire, and boil until a syrup is formed, taking care to remove the scum as it rises.  If a saccharometer is available for testing the heat of the syrup, it should be boiled until it registers 220◦F.

Grape sorbet illustration from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition).

Melon Water Ice

Ingredients: 1 medium-sized ripe melon, 4 ozs of sugar, the juice of 2 oranges, the juice of 2 lemons, 1 wineglassful of Maraschino, 1 quart of water.

Method: Peel and slice the melon, simmer for 10 minutes with the water and sugar, and rub through a fine hair sieve.  When cool, add the strained orange and lemon-juice, the Maraschino, and, if necessary, a little more sugar.  Freeze.

Red Currant Water Ice

Ingredients: 1lb of red currants, 1/2 a lb of raspberries, 1 quart of syrup, the juice of 1 lemon.

Method: Pick the fruit and rub it through a hair sieve.  Prepare the syrup according to the recipe, pour it over the fruit pulp, add the strained lemon-juice, and when cold freeze.

Tangerine Water Ice

Ingredients: 6 tangerines, 2 oranges, 2 lemons, 4 ozs of loaf sugar, 1 pint of syrup.

Method: Rub the sugar on the rind of the tangerines to extract some of the flavour.  Place the sugar in a saucepan, add the thin rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 1/4 pint of cold water, and boil the mixture for 10 minutes.  Skim if necessary, add the juice of the oranges and lemons, and the syrup, boil up, then strain, and, when cold, freeze.

Illustration of an ice pudding, from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition).

Iced Pudding

Ingredients: 1 1/2 pints of vanilla custard, 2 ozs of crystallized apricots shredded,    2 ozs of glacé cherries shredded, 1 pint of cream, an assortment of crystallized fruit.

Method: Partially freeze the custard, and add the shredded fruit, and the cream stiffly whipped.  Continue the freezing till of right consistency, fill up a fruit shaped mould, and keep the remainder of the mixture in a frozen condition.  When ready, unmould, and arrange the unmoulded portion of the ice mixture and assorted fruit on top.

China version of an ice pudding. On display in the Victorian kitchen at Tudor House and Garden, Southampton, Hampshire.

Neapolitan Ice

Ingredients: 1/4 of a pint of strawberry or raspberry pulp, 1/2 an oz of grated chocolate, 3 yolks of eggs, 1 1/2 pints of milk, 1/2 a pint of cream, 3 ozs of castor sugar, 1/2 a teaspoonful of vanilla essence, carmine or cochineal (use red food colouring in the 21st century!).

Method: Cream the yolks of eggs and 3 ozs of castor sugar well together.  Add the rest of the sugar to the milk, and when boiling pour on to the yolks of eggs and sugar, stirring vigorously meanwhile.  Replace in the stewpan, and stir by the side of the fire until the mixture thickens, then strain.  Dissolve the chocolate in 1 tablespoonful of water, mix wi it 1/3 of the custard, and let it cool.  Mix the fruit pulp with half the remaining custard, and if necessary add a few drops of carmine.  To the other third of the custard add the vanilla essence.  Whip the cream slightly, divide it into 3 equal portions, and add 1 to each preparation.  Freeze separately, then pack in layers in a Neopolitan ice-box, or, failing this, a mould best suited to the purpose. Cover close, and pack in salt and ice for about 2 hours.  Serve cut across in slices.

Neapolitan ices illustration from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition).

Further Reading

  • Icehouses by Tim Buxbaum (2008), published by Shire Library (278)
  • Ice Cream: History by Ivan Day (2011), published by Shire Library (614).
  • Taste: The Story of Britain Through it Cooking by Kate Coquhoun (2008), published by Bloomsbury PLC.

    A selection of vintage ice-cream bowls, glasses and dishes from Verrecchia’s cafe that was located in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, Hampshire. Verrecchia’s opened in 1933 and traded until 1970. Opened by Augusto Verrecchia and his father on 6th July 1933. No. 8 is for Knickerbocker glory; no 9 is for parfait; no. 10 is an ice-cream dish commissioned for Verrecchia’s in the 1930s and no. 11 is for sundaes. On display at Portsmouth City Museum.

From Verrecchia’s, Portsmouth. On display at Portsmouth City Museum.
Posted in History, Motoring History, Mrs Beeton

Advice To The Motorcar Owner of 1915 From Mrs Beeton’s Book Of Household Managment

Four cylinder Peugeot Touring Car, 1906.

I have been browsing through my copy of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition) and reading some of the non-food related entries. I never ceased to be amazed at the wide range of topics covered by this classic tome from the domestic literature canon. Isabella Beeton died in 1865, thirty years before the first motorcar was introduced into Britain by Frederick Simms and his friend Evelyn Ellis, a Daimler-engined Panhard & Levassor. Each new edition of Mrs Beeton’s work, was carefully updated to reflect current societal/consumer trends. By the end of the Edwardian era (1910) car ownership was on the increase amongst the wealthy. Car maintenance was one topic that would have resonated with the middle and upper classes during the post-Edwardian era.   The excellent website, Edwardian Promenade, has a couple of good articles on the motorcar during the Edwardian period:

Magazine Cover, 1906.

If you own a vintage car I wouldn’t recommend you follow all of the advice given in Mrs Beeton’s book, such as washing greasy car leathers with waste petrol or cleaning your engine with a brush dipped in paraffin but some of it you may find useful.

Children’s puzzle published by Raphael Tuck and Sons London, 1909. Exhibit on display at St. Barbe Museum and Art Gallery, Lymington, Hampshire.

Advice on how to clean your motorcar

‘After the mud has been washed off the car by means of the hose, the painted work should be dried with a soft, clean sponge and then polished with a leather.  Care should be taken to keep the water and grit out of the bearings and other working parts.  The tyres should be wiped clean and dried, care being taken to see that they are well inflated and that no water gets in, otherwise the rims will rust and the canvas rot.  To clean the engine and gear apply a good-sized brush dipped in paraffin.  Greasy leathers should be cleaned by washing with waste petrol.  The clutch leather should not be allowed to get dry, but should be moistened with collan oil, which should be allowed to soak overnight.’ (1915 edition: p. 1809)

To oil the motorcar

‘The careful driver will bear in mind that all the rotating and rubbing surfaces of his motor, except the stems of the inlet and exhaust valves and the leather brake bands, when used, require lubrication, as do the steering sockets, connections, worm and column bearings.  The bearings of the road wheels, the transmission gearing and levers, the balance gear and the starting apparatus should also be carefully oiled, while the pump and radiator fan bearings should not be neglected.’ (1915 edition: p.1809)

The Motor Manual, 1913.
Posted in Bringing Alive The Past, Mrs Beeton

Mrs Beeton Goes Vegetarian

Illustration of vegetarian dishes, Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1915 edition

‘A Vegetarian Society has been founded at Ramsgate by a gathering of vegetarians from many parts of the kingdom.  Its objective is to promote the use of a farinaceous and fruit diet, in preference to the use of flesh.  At the head of the Society is Joseph Brotherton Esq, MP who stated that he had abstained from eating animal food for the last thirty-eight years, during which he had enjoyed excellent health.’

The Preston Guardian, Saturday 20th November, 1847

In 1847 the first Vegetarian Society was founded.  The inaugural meeting took place on 30th September, 1847 at a Physiological Conference staged at Northwood Villa Hydropathic Institute in Ramsgate.  The first public meeting of the society was held in Manchester the following year.  The Society had 889 members in 1853 and by 1897 membership had swelled to 5,000.  In 1908 The International Vegetarian Union was founded to oversea the growing number of individual Societies.  Mrs Beeton acknowledged this increasingly popular food movement and included a chapter on ‘Vegetarian Cookery’ in the 1915 edition of her Book of Household Management (first published in 1861). One of the key publications that influenced much of The Vegetarian Society’s early doctrines was John Smith’s (of Malton) Fruits and Farinacea – The Proper Food of Man. Smith also wrote a book on vegetarian cooking called Vegetable Cookery, published in 1866.

Vegetable illustration from Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1915 edition

At the Vegetarian Society’s annual dinner in 1848 the members were treated to an extraordinary meat-free spread:

  • First course – savoury omelet; macaroni omelet; rice fritters; forcemeat fritters, onion and sage fritters; bread and parsley fritters; savoury pie; mushroom pie; potatoes; peas; cauliflowers; beetroot;
  • Second course – plum pudding; fruit tarts, moulded rice; moulded sago; cheese cakes; blanc mange; custards; creams; sponge cakes; grapes; currants; gooseberries; figs; nuts; almonds and raisins.

Mrs Beeton said of Vegetarianism: ‘In England the question has come to the front on the ground of dietetic reform, and a number of persons known as “Vegetarians” abstain from animal food altogether, or take it only in such forms as milk, cheese, butter and eggs. The stricter adherents, however, abstain from the use of some or all of these products.  Other people, while not classing themselves as vegetarians, consider that a less quantity of food than is generally eaten is sufficient to keep the body in good health, and avail themselves of the various dishes tastefully served at the numerous vegetarian restaurants which are now common in London and other large towns.’ (p. 1317, 1915 edition).

Vegetable illustration from Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1915 edition

Here a few of my favourite vegetarian recipes from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition):

Hotchpotch Soup

Ingredients – 3 ozs of pearl-barley, 1 small cabbage, 2 carrots, 1 turnip, 2 onions, parsley and herbs, 2 ozs of butter, salt and pepper, 3 quarts of water.

Method – Put the barley on the fire with the cold water.  Scrape or grate one of the carrots, and put it aside in a little water.  Chop all the rest of the vegetables very small, and when the water boils put them in with the butter, salt and pepper.  There should be enough vegetable to make it rather thick.  Boil it all for 2 hours, then add the scraped carrots, and boil for another 30 minutes. Takes 3 hours to make and is sufficient for 5 or 6 persons.

Spinach souffles from Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1915 edition.

Asparagus Soufflé

Ingredients – 50 green asparagus heads, cooked and well-drained, 2 ozs of butter, 1 1/2 ozs of flour, 2 ozs of grated Parmesan cheese, 2 yolks of eggs, 3 whites of eggs, 1/2 a pint of milk, salt and pepper.

Method – Heat the butter in a stewpan, stir in the flour, and add the milk.  Beat and cook the mixture over the fire until it leaves the sides of the pan, then add the yolks of eggs, and a little salt and pepper.  Beat well, add the cheese, stir in the stiffly whisked whites of eggs, and lastly the asparagus heads, or the pureé thereof.  Turn into a well-buttered soufflé dish, and back in a moderately hot oven for about 20 minutes. Sufficient for 3 or 4 persons.

Macaroni and Cream

Ingredients -1/2 a lb of macaroni, 2 ozs of Gruyère cheese grated, 2 ozs of Parmesan cheese grated, 2 ozs of butter, 1/3 of a pint of cream, salt and pepper, triangles of fried or toasted bread.

Method – Break the macaroni into short lengths, throw them into boiling salted water, and boil rapidly for 20 minutes, or until tender.  Heat the butter, drain and add the macaroni, stir in the cheese and cream, and season to taste.  Make quite hot, and serve garnished with sippets of bread.  Takes 1/2 an hour to make and is sufficient for 2 or 3 persons.

 Onion Pudding

Ingredients – 8 ozs of flour, 2 ozs of breadcrumbs, 3 or 4 ozs of butter (1 tablespoonful of olive oil may be substituted), 1 teaspoonful of baking powder, 1 saltspoonful of salt, water.  For the mixture: 3 or 4 large mild onions, 2 tablespoonfuls of breadcrumbs, 1/4 of a teaspoonful of sage, salt and pepper, 1 or 2 ozs of butter.

Method – Cut the peeled onions into small dice, place them in a pie-dish with the breadcrumbs, butter, sage, and season with salt and pepper, cover closely, and bake gently for 1 hour.  Rub the butter into the flour and breadcrumbs, add the baking powder and salt, and sufficient water to form a rather stiff paste.  Line a basin with the paste, put in the mixture when cool, cover with paste, and afterwards with 2 or 3 folds of greased paper, and steam for 2 hours.  Service in the basin, and send brown sauce to table separately.  Takes 3  1/2 hours to make and is sufficient for 3 or 4 persons.

Savoury Semolina

Ingredients – 4 ozs of semolina, 2 ozs of grated cheese, 2 ozs of butter, 1 teaspoonful of made mustard, pepper and salt, cayenne, breadcrumbs, 1 quart of milk.

Method – Boil-up the milk, sprinkle in the semolina, stir and cook for 15 minutes, then add the cheese, butter, mustard and pepper, salt and cayenne to taste.  Turn into a buttered gratin dish, or several china scallop shells, sprinkle liberally with breadcrumbs and cheese, and add a few very small pieces of butter.  Brown in a hot oven, and serve.  Takes 1/2 an hour to make and is sufficient for 3 or 4 persons.

Vegetable Goose

Ingredients – 1/2 a lb of breadcrumbs soaked in cold water, 1 onion, 1 teaspoonful of chopped parsley and herbs, 1 oz of butter, pepper and salt.

Method – Squeeze the bread nearly dry, and mash it, mix in the other ingredients, chopped small.  Butter a Yorkshire pudding-dish, put in the mixture, and bake in a good oven for about 3/4 hour. Serve hot and cut in squares.  Takes about 1  1/2 hours to make and is sufficient for 2 persons.

Lentil Porridge

Ingredients – 3 ozs of lentil flour, 1 pint of water, salt, butter.

Method – Put the flour and salt in a basin, with a little cold water, add the rest of the water boiling, put it on the fire, and boil for 20 minutes.  Stir in the butter just before serving.  Half lentil and half barley or wheat-flour is preferred by some, and makes a close imitation of the Revalenta Arabica, so much-advertised for invalids.  Takes 10 minutes to make and is sufficient for 2 persons.

Pea Fritters

Ingredients – Cold brose, or lentil porridge, breadcrumbs, herbs, onions, seasoning, flour, frying-fat.

Method – Mix the cold porridge about its own bulk in breadcrumbs.  Add a little chopped onion and sweet herbs, and seasoning  taste.  Shape the preparation into flat cakes, flour them, and fry a nice brown in the frying-pan.  Takes 10 minutes to make.

In strict vegetarian cookery suet is replaced by one of the nut batters, now so plentiful on the market.  In Italy and Corsica a flour made from dried chestnuts is much used. It is of a dark-brown colour, and richly nitrogenous.  Carefully used, it makes excellent puddings and cakes.’ (Mrs Beeton, p. 1342, 1915 edition)


Ingredients – 1/2 a lb of flour, 1/2 a lb of golden syrup, 2 ozs of butter, 1 teaspoonful of baking-powder, 1/2 a teaspoonful of ground ginger, 1 egg, salt.

Method – Mix the baking-powder and ginger with the flour, rub in the butter, add the treacle and the egg, well beaten, and mix all together; flour a pudding cloth, put in the mixture, and boil for 1 1/2 hours, serve with butter sauce.  Takes 2 hours to make and is sufficient to feed 2 or 3 persons.

Pastry Without Butter

Ingredients – 1 lb  flour, 1 teaspoonful of baking-powder, a small wineglassful of salad-oil, water.

Method – Mix the flour and baking-powder.  Add the oil to cold water, and stir the paste to a proper consistency for rolling.  Fold it over and roll it out 2 or 3 times, place on a baking tin, and bake immediately.

Vegetable illustration from Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1915 edition.

Posted in Bringing Alive The Past, Mrs Beeton

Mrs Beeton’s Christmas Feast Part 2 – A Festival of Sweet Gifts

Basket of spun sugar with bon bons, featured in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1915 edition.

This year I have decided on a homemade Christmas.  In order to kick-start my creativity, I have been flicking through magazines, watching copious re-runs of cookery shows on the Food Network UK and delving into my historical cookery and craft books.  Homemade sweets make a lovely, economical gift for friends and family.  I will buy cellophane bags to put them in.  The cost of these bags vary depending on whether you purchase them on-line or at your local store. I buy mine from a local cake decorating shop and they cost 12p per unit.  Secure the bags with curling ribbon and a homemade gift tag, job done. This year I am also experimenting using fruit for table and room decorations.  I love the colour palette created by seasonal fruit and the smell is heavenly.  If you want an even more fragrant scent of Christmas wafting through your home, try filling small glasses with cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise  and liberally sprinkling the hard spices with ground ginger and nutmeg.

Fruit illustration from Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1915 edition.

A Selection of Mrs Beeton’s Homemade Sweets Recipes

  • Almond Toffee;
  • American Candy;
  • Barley Sugar;
  • Clarified Sugar;
  • Butter Scotch;
  • Candied Chestnuts;
  • Candy Twist;
  • Chocolate Caramels;
  • Raspberry Caramels;
  • Clove Drops;
  • Fondant Cream;
  • Lemon and Acid Drops;
  • Marshmallows;
  • Marzipan;
  • Nougat;
  • Lemon Toffee;
  • Russian Toffee;
  • Turkish Delight.

Almond Toffee

1lb of loaf sugar, 5 ozs of almonds, 1/2 a pint of water, a pinch of cream of tartar, almond essence.

Blanch and skin the almonds, cut them across in halves, and dry them in the oven without browning.  Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the cream of tartar, and boil until a deep amber-coloured syrup is obtained.  Remove the stewpan from the fire, add the almonds, boil up again, and pour on to a buttered or oiled tin.

American Candy

2lb of moist sugar, 1/2 a pint of water, cream of tartar, tartaric acid, 1 dessertspoonful of golden syrup, saffron-yellow, flavouring essence.

Dissolve the sugar in the water, add a good 1/2 a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, and boil to the “large crack” degree (312F). Pour on to an oiled slab, add a little saffron-yellow or other colouring ingredient and flavour to taste. Any flavouring substance may be used, but it should agree with the colour of the candy; thus red should be flavoured with raspberry essence, yellow with pineapple, etc. Add also a pinch of tartaric acid and the golden syrup, work well in, fold up, then pull over an oiled hook, and cut into squares.

Barley Sugar

1 pint of clarified syrup (see recipe below), 1 teaspoonful of lemon-juice, 5 drops of essence of lemon, saffron-yellow.

Boil the prepared syrup to the “large crack”, add the lemon-juice and lemon-essence, and reboil until it acquires a little colour. Now add a few drops of saffron-yellow, and pour at once on to an oiled slab.  When cool, cut into drops about 6 inches long and 1 inch wide, and twist them. Keep in air-tight tins.

Butter Scotch

1lb of moist sugar, 1/2 a lb of butter, 1/2 a teacupful of cold water, essence of almonds.

Put the water and sugar into a stewpan, let the mixture stand by the side of the fire until dissolved, then add the butter and boil until the mixture becomes quite thick.  Stir occasionally until it begins to thicken, and afterwards continuously, as this preparation is liable to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Pour on to an oiled or buttered tin, and mark and divide.

Syrup for Water Ices (Clarified Syrup)

2lbs of loaf sugar, 1 pint of water.  Put the sugar and water into a copper sugar-boiler or stewpan; when dissolved place over a clear fire, and boil until a syrup is formed, taking care to remove the scum as it rises.  If a saccarometer is available for testing the heat of the syrup, it should be boiled until it registers 220F.

Candied Chestnuts

Chestnuts and loaf sugar. Remove the shells of the chestnuts, place them in a stewpan of boiling water, boil for about 10 minutes, then drain and skin them. Replace in the stewpan, cover with boiling water, boil until tender but not broken, and let them cool.  Allow 1/2 a pint of water to each lb of sugar, boil to the “crack” degree (290F), then dip in the chestnuts one at a time, and place them on an oiled slab.

Chocolate Caramels

3 ozs of finely grated vanilla chocolate, 1lb of best loaf sugar, 1/2 a pint of cream, 1/2 a pint of milk.

Dissolve the sugar in the milk, add the cream and bring slowly to boiling point.  Dissolve the chocolate in the smallest possible quantity of hot water, stir it into the syrup, and boil very gently until a little, dropped into cold water, at once hardens and snaps easily.  Pour it on to an oiled slab into a square formed by bars, or failing these, into an oiled tin.  When cold, cut into squares with a caramel cutter, or a buttered knife, and wrap each piece in wax paper.

Candy Twist

1 1/2 lb of Demerara sugar, 1/2 a pint of water, caramel colouring, almond essence.

Dissolve the sugar in the water, boil to the “crack” degree, then colour and flavour to taste. Pour the syrup on to an oiled slab, and as the edges cool fold them over. When the whole is cool enough to handle pull it over the candy-hook, cut it into 6-inch lengths, and twist them into a spiral form. If preferred, while granulated sugar may be substituted, and the candy flavoured with vanilla, or it may be coloured red and flavoured with raspberry.

Raspberry Caramels

2lb of granulated sugar, 1oz of butter, 1/2 a pint of cream, 1/2 a pint of water, 3 tablespoonfuls of glucose, raspberry essence, cherry-red colouring or carmine.

Put the sugar with the water into a stewpan; when dissolved stir in the glucose, and boil to the “ball” (237F) degree.  Add the cream and butter in small pieces, stir and boil until the syrup reaches the “crack” degree, then transfer the stewpan at once to a bowl of cold water, to arrest further cooking.  Colour and flavour to taste, pour between bars on an oiled slab or into an oiled tin, and when sufficiently cool, cut into small squares by means of a caramel cutter or a slightly buttered knife, and wrap each caramel in wax paper.

Clove Drops

Essence of cloves, a few drops of acetic acid, 1lb of loaf sugar, 1/2 a pint of water.

Boil the sugar and water to the ball (237F) degree, add a few drops of acetic acid, and clove essence to taste.  Grain the syrup by pressing it against the sides of the pan with the back of the spoon, let it cool slightly, then turn it on to an oiled sheet. Mark it in small squares with the back of a knife, and separate them when cold.

Fondant Cream

3 lbs of loaf sugar, 1 pint of cold water, 1/4 of a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, colouring and flavouring ingredients.

Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the cream of tartar, and boil to the “small ball” (237F) degree.  Pour the syrup into a basin, let it remain until lukewarm, then stir well with a spatula until white and slightly hardened.  Now turn the paste on to a slab or large dish, and knead it with the hands until perfectly smooth.  Flavour and colour to taste, and use as required.

Lemon and Acid Drops

1 1/2 lbs of loaf sugar, 1/2 a pint of water, 1/2 a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, essence of lemon, 1 dessertspoonful of tartaric acid.

Boil the sugar, water, and cream of tartar together until the mixture acquires a pale yellow tinge, add essence of lemon to taste, and turn the preparation on to an oiled slab.  Sprinkle on the tartaric acid, work it well in, and , as soon as it is cool enough to handle, form into thin rolls, cut off short pieces with the scissors, and roll into shape under the hand.  Coat with sifted sugar, dry well, and afterwards store in an airtight tin.


1/2 a lb of icing sugar, 1/4 of a lb of gum arabic, 3 whites of eggs, 1/2 of a pint of water, caramel essence.

Soak the gum arabic in the water until soft, then heat gently until dissolved, and strain it through fine muslin.  Return to the stewpan, add the sugar, and when dissolved, stir in the whites of eggs, and whisk until the mixture is quite stiff.  Flavour to taste, sugar, and let it remain for about 10 hours.  When ready, cut into small squares, and dredge them liberally with icing sugar.


1 lb of loaf sugar, 12 ozs of ground almonds, 3 ozs of sifted icing sugar, 2 whites of eggs, 1 1/2 gills of water.

Boil the sugar and water to 240F, then draw the sugar boiler or pan aside, and when the syrup has cooled slightly add the almonds and whites of eggs. Stir by the side of the fire for a few minutes, then turn on to a slab, stir in the icing sugar, and work with a spatula until the preparation is cool enough to handle.  Knead until perfectly smooth, add flavouring to taste, and mould into desired shapes.


4 ozs of icing sugar, 4 ozs of honey, 8 ozs of almonds, 2 whites of eggs, wafer paper.

Blanch and dry the almonds thoroughly. Line a box of suitable size first with white paper and then with wafer paper, both of which must be cut to fit exactly.  Put the sugar, honey and whites of eggs into a copper sugar boiler or pan, and stir by the side of the fire until the mixture becomes thick and white. Drop a little into cold water; if it at once hardens, remove the pan from the fire, and stir in the almonds.  Dredge the slab with icing sugar, turn on to it the nougat, and form into a ball.  Press into the prepared box, cover with paper, let it remain under pressure until cold then cut up into squares.

Lemon Toffee

1lb of granulated sugar, 4 ozs of butter, the juice of 1 lemon, essence of lemon.

Melt the butter in a stewpan, add the sugar, boil up slowly, stir and boil for a few minutes, and add 1 teaspoonful of lemon-juice, continue boiling to the “crack”  (290F) degree, add the rest of the lemon-juice and a few drops of essence of lemon, and pour at once on to a battered or oiled tin.

Russian Toffee

1/2 lb of loaf sugar, 1/4 of a lb of butter, 1/4 of a pint of cream, 1 tablespoonful of red-currant jelly, vanilla or other flavouring essence.

Place the sugar, butter and cream in a stewpan, and stir by the side of the fire until the mixture thickens and leaves the sides of the pan clean.  Flavour to taste, pour on to an oiled or buttered tin, and when cold, cut into squares.

Turkish Delight

1/2 a lb of icing sugar, 1 lb of loaf sugar, 1 oz of leaf gelatine, 2ozs of almonds or pistachios, 1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 tablespoonful of rum, 1 gill of water.

Put the gelatine to soak in cold water. Blanch the almonds or pistachios, and chop them coarsely.  Remove the rinds of the orange and lemon in thin fine strips, place them in a copper sugar boiler or stewpan with the loaf sugar, water, and the strained juice of the orange and lemon. When boiling add the gelatine, simmer until dissolved, then strain into a basin and add the rum.  Let the mixture remain until on the point of setting, then stir in the almonds or pistachios, and pour at once into a wetted round tin.  When perfectly set turn the jelly out, cut it into 1-inch square pieces, and roll them in icing sugar.

Fruit illustration from Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1915 edition.
Posted in Bringing Alive The Past, History, Mrs Beeton

The Edwardian Craze for Paper Bag Cookery – Part 1

Advert for a gas cooker from Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1915. Cooking with gas was recommended by Edwardian cooks as the best method for success with paper-bag cookery.

‘Paper bag cookery is now accepted by very many housewives as the most economical, efficient, and the simplest method of preparing our food for the table. In the first place, the food loses nothing in the cooking; in the second place, there is no smell;  and in the third place, there are no greasy pots and pans to wash up.’

Woman’s Weekly, 4th November, 1911

Paper bag cookery was popular with frugally minded Edwardian cooks from both sides of the Atlantic.  Woman’s Weekly promoted its use and Mrs Beeton even included a section on it in her Book of Household Management.  Mrs B was cautious about the method and somewhat sceptical that it was simply a passing fad:

‘Paper-bag cookery owes much of the prominence to which it has attained in consequence of its having been boomed in the Press, and because it was regarded as something new…Housewives, however, will do well to proceed cautiously at first and by way of experiment…Enthusiasts have declared that the system may be adapted to every description of food and food preparation, but these assertions are of too sweeping a character.  For vegetables, on the other hand, it may be doubted whether the paper-bag plan is suitable.’ (p.1516, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1915 edition)

In 1911, Vera Countess Serkoff’s Paper-Bag Cookery and Nicolas Soyer’s, Soyer’s Paper Bag Cookery were published.  In 1912, Emma Paddock Telford, who was the Household Editor of The Delineator, New Ideas and The Designer, wrote Standard Paper-Bag Cookery, adapted to the needs of American housewives and published by Applewood Books. Serkoff’s book, aimed at the household of the servantless cook, was very enthusiast about the advantages of paper-bag cookery:

‘A very great advantage both to mistress and maid is the cleanliness of the process.  It is undoubtedly an advantage when doing without a servant to have no pots and pans to soil one’s fingers, or to roughen one’s hands with the necessary strong soda water for cleansing kitchen utensils.’ (p. 6, Paper-Bag Cookery, 1911)

‘Paper-bag cookery is not a mere craze of the moment; for once its advantages have been discovered, it will become firmly rooted as one of the best and most economical means of preparing food ever invented.  Why it should have fallen into abeyance among civilised nations (except in the cooking of one or two special dishes) for so many centuries is impossible to surmise.’ (p.10, Paper-Bag Cookery, 1911)

Emma Telford’s, Standard Paper-Bag Cookery, aimed her book at a wider target audience: ‘…..for the small family, for the woman who does her own work and wishes to minimize labour, or for the epicurean but frugal housewife who looks personally after the details of her own little establishment.’

It was recommended by all the above authors that paper-bag cookery was best undertaken using a gas oven. In today’s risk averse society the combination of a naked flamed and paper seem pretty obvious.  If you want to read more about the history of gas usage in the UK home, then I suggest visiting The Gas Museum’s  fascinating website.  Click Here. 

The Edwardian cook would need to purchase specially created bags, available from department stores, grocers and butchers.  The bags came in a range of sizes, in bundles of thirty, together with sealing clips and a small book of recipes and full instructions.  American authors suggested that to get the best results from using this method, particularly when cooking meat, the food should be placed in a disposable wooden cookery dish which is then put into the bag.  This would ensure that if the bag burst, the juices would not be lost or create a mess in the oven.  The Oval Wood Dish Company, based in Delta, Ohio was one of the manufacturers of this type of cooking vessel.

In my second posting I will be bringing you a range of recipes from some of the above authors.  Paper-bag cookery is still popular today, sometimes called cooking En papillote.  Baking parchment and parchment bags are now used.  Fish cooks beautifully using this method and a theatrical moment is created when the parcel is unwrapped at the dinner table. There are a lot of contemporary paper-bag/En papillote recipes available on-line, but I would recommend the BBC‘s as your first port of call.  Click here.