In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates spiced hot chocolate – a chocolate treat enjoyed by kings and queens.
Sam writes: Hot chocolate has always been one of my favourite drinks but I have often wondered when the drink was first consumed in Britain.
I was surprised to find out that chocolate itself arrived in England in the 1600s, with evidence of it being drunk at the court of Charles I – before it was deemed a sinful pleasure by Oliver Cromwell, and banned.
This recipe is based on the drink served at the English court during the 17th and 18th centuries and the spices make it smell – and taste – wonderful. It’s also very simple to make. The drink is very rich – you won’t need a big portion – but since chocolate was believed to have medicinal properties well into the mid-18th century, you can see it as a relatively guilt-free treat!
The girl who runs Revolutionary Pie writes: According to John Mariani in “The Dictionary of American Food and Drink”, pandowdy was first mentioned in print in 1805. The dessert turned up decades later in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Blithedale Romance” (1852):
“Hollingsworth [would] fill my plate from the great dish of
In the meantime, it was supposedly a favorite of Abigail and John Adams, although a recipe I saw attributed to Abigail has a pastry-dough crust, not a biscuit topping. Which is a true pandowdy? I don’t think anyone really knows for sure.
Kim who runs ‘Tunspit & Table‘ writes: England has been famous for its puddings for centuries, and the word is now interchangeable with dessert, but it wasn’t always so. Historically puddings were essentially sausages with a filling stuffed into the stomach or intestines of an animal (the word probably comes from the Anglo-Norman word bodin meaning entrails). Sometimes they were kind of like dumplings, cooked in the broth with the meat for dinner.
The girl who runs Revolutionary Pie writes: Bounce is made from sour cherries, sugar, and liquor such as brandy, rum, or whiskey. Martha’s recipe, which was found in her papers although not in her handwriting, called for brandy. This drink was one of George’s favorites. He even took it along on journeys — on a trip west in 1784, in search of a commercial waterway from the Atlantic to the Mississippi Valley, he packed canteens of Madeira, port, and bounce.
A simple but delicious jam recipe found on Bite From The Past
The Girl who runs Bite From The Past writes: I have been dying to make this ever since I spotted it in The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black and Deirdre LeFaye.
This is the easiest jam you’ll ever make in your life-and it makes good use of leftover pieces of fruit. It’s funny to me that the instructions state this is a jam for children-probably because it’s a mixed up combination of fruit. I think it’s a wonderful addition to any biscuit or bread at tea time.
In this batch, I used strawberries, two apples that were starting to shrivel, and a couple of really ripe pears. Peel the skins off the apples and pears. You can also use peaches or plums-just be sure to blanche them first to remove the skin.
I did not can these – although you can to preserve them longer. I merely put mine in canning jars and set them in the very back of my refrigerator, where they lasted for several months!
An exiting recipe found on ‘World Turn’d Upside Down‘ a blog you would not want to miss if you are at all interested in historic recipes
Stephanie Ann Farra who runs ‘World Turn’d Upside Down‘ writes: Mushroom ketchup was something I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. I love the fact that this was a common sauce so different from the ketchup we use today. In the early 1700s, ketchup was introduced to English explorers by the people of Singapore and Malaysia. Originally a sauce for fish, ketchup was made out of walnuts, oysters or mushrooms and was similar to soy sauce. The English expanded the use of the sauce and it became popular for fish and meat dishes.
Rich Bath buns with a sweet sugar glaze were a favourite of Jane Austen – though apparently it was easy to over-do it.
From a recipe from Mrs Raffald’s “The Experienced English Housekeeper” published in 1769. Mrs Raffald tells us to “send them in hot for breakfast”, which sounds rather indigestible for these rich, buttery buns, and may have been why, when Jane was staying with a rather mean aunt, she joked to Cassandra that she would make herself an inexpensive guest by “disordering my stomach with Bath buns”.
Gingersnaps, also called ginger biscuits, are a type of cookie. The name comes from the fact these cookies traditionally are very crispy and make a snapping sound when eaten. Gingersnaps are a derivation of gingerbread and were invented hundreds of years ago. People in colonial times enjoyed these cookies, both in European countries and in America.
Ginger is derived from the ginger root and is native to parts of South Asia; historians believe it was first cultivated in India. Ginger was prized for its valuable effects on health and imported for its medicinal uses before it was utilized for cooking purposes. Ginger found its way to ancient Rome, then to Africa and the Caribbean. In medieval times, ginger was imported to Europe in preserved form to be used in baking treats such as cakes and cookies.
Whether it’s breakfast at Northanger Abbey, tea and cake at Mansfield Park, or one of Mrs Bennet’s dinners to impress, food is an important theme in Jane Austen’s novels. And now, Austen fans can recreate the dishes featured in the author’s works, thanks to new book “Dinner with Mr Darcy” by Pen Vogler
Flummery is a white jelly, which was set in elegant molds or as shapes in clear jelly. Its delicate, creamy taste goes particularly well with rhubarb, strawberries, and raspberries. A modern version would be to add the puréed fruit to the ingredients, taking away the same volume of water.
Karen Hammonds who runs revolutionarpie writes: When I read about Martha Washington’s Great Cake, I wondered whether it was called that because it was really good or really large. I think the name was meant to describe its size — to give you an idea of just how big it was, here is Martha’s recipe:
Take 40 eggs and divide the whites from the yolks and beat them to a froth. Then work 4 pounds of butter to a cream and put the whites of eggs to it a Spoon full at a time till it is well work’d. Then put 4 pounds of sugar finely powdered to it in the same manner then put in the Yolks of eggs and 5 pounds of flour and 5 pounds of fruit. 2 hours will bake it. Add to it half an ounce of mace and nutmeg half a pint of wine and some fresh brandy.
This cake was prepared at Mount Vernon, the Washingtons’ Virginia home, during the Christmas season and for other special occasions. I’ve seen references to Martha baking it herself, but according to the book Dining with the Washingtons, cooking was ordinarily done by servants. Martha did supervise meal planning and the kitchen closely, however, and Washington family lore had it that she made some dishes herself. I like to think she baked George a cake once in a while.