All posts tagged: Victorian

The Everlasting Fruitcake

Fruitcakes in Britain date back as far as Saxon times. Drying fruits and nuts was the best and perhaps only way to ensure a good supply during the harsh months of winter. But many ancient European cultures have different variations of such sweetened cakes but like mince pies, the fruitcake came into shape as a Christmas- New Year meal during the middle ages when an array of spices and vast amounts of honey were added to make this sticky, dense and rich cake. This delicacy was so well loved that for a while was the staple wedding cake! In Victorian times citrus peels and liberal amounts of brandy were added to intensify the flavour and moisten the cake. Although European immigrants introduced it to America, it still holds a strong nostalgic connotation and links to the motherlands of the old world. Although many claim one must bake a fruitcake at least two months before Christmas, I’ll give you my speedy recipe that you can with just one day ahead, an elegant Victorian decoration with almonds …

What is appetite?

It is difficult to say. It is not hunger. We may have no sensation of hunger at all and yet find an appetite when we see a tempting dish before us. Makes our mouth water is a common saying about nice food. Perhaps that’s the secret. If the juices are ready in the mouth and the stomach, then appetite comes. So daintiness counts. God-given food must be served at its best; every meal served so that it may be an offering to the giver of all good things. Then appetite will wait on digestion and digestion on appetite and the work of the cook will be the best work in the world! Mrs. Beeton

Love + science + cake= Recipe for success

Birmingham is a city located in the English West Midlands, a general damp weather gives a certain glow to the hundreds of beautiful Victorian industrial buildings. The foundational part of the city is located in what is now known as the Digbeth District, there were two other settlements around two parishes and those are: Aston, famous for its university and business school and Deritend within the city. The first modern settlement dates back to the 7th century. We happen to be lucky enough to live next to the very famous pub: The Old Crown, the oldest secular building in Birmingham. Another very distinctive building –and foodie landmark- is the Custard Factory, just across the street from the Old Crown. Custard is a creamy and sweet sauce infused with vanilla and can be served warm or cold with puddings. Traditionally is made with egg whites, milk, sugar and vanilla, other alternatives include corn starch as a thickening agent and other flavourings such as whiskey, orange or cinnamon. But let’s go back to the exiting Victorian times …

The Elegant Economist

By Eliza Acton In previous posts I’ve reviewed other titles of the penguin series: Great Food, one by M.F.K. Fisher and Isabella Beeton. Eliza Acton unintendedly ended up in a very controversial affair when a certain Mrs. Beeton -you might have heard of- The latter decided to compile a mammoth of a book aiming to help young housewives like herself to have a detailed all in one reference to master the art of managing a household. Commendable as this task was, Beeton –deliberately?- failed at one tiny detail: provide references of the many sources she consulted to compile her works. You can read my review on The Real Mrs Beeton here, this is one of the few books that has been written about her. In The Elegant Economist we get a glimpse into the writing style and overall approach Acton had on cookery. Although it is customary for us nowadays to find shelves filled cookery books that are too often written by women, this certainly wasn’t the case in 1845 when Acton’s Modern Cookery was …

Perfumed Drinks: Victorian Refreshments

I’ve always thought that the industrious Victorian and Edwardian entrepreneurs were both earnest and slightly naive in the best sense. Botanical drinks are a good example of this kind of ventures, where at some point someone got the idea mass produce the drinks of their childhood and turn them in to a highly profitable business. Some of these all time favourite British refreshments are carbonated whilst others are highly concentrated juices and flower based cordials and presses.

The Campaign for Domestic Happiness & Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management

By: Isabella Beeton Penguin Click here to download or read “Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management”, courtesy of The Internet Archive. “The Campaign for Domestic Happiness” (only 108 pages long) is an excerpt from the encyclopaedic “Mrs. Beeton’s Book on Household Management” (1861), the latter is presented as “a complete cookery book” however it includes sections on household work, etiquette, decoration, and nursery amongst many other topics and of course, several hundred recipes.