Ice Cream, as we know it, was a relatively new invention in Jane Austen’s day. Enjoyed in Italy and France in the 17th c, the first recorded English recipe was published in 1718.
Recipes featuring fruit not available until early summer were, no doubt, a treat reserved for the wealthy, who could afford to buy their ice and keep it cool in ice houses, until wanted. If you did not have access to ice in the summer, you could always visit the local Pastry Cook for a variety of sweets, including ice cream. Molland’s, in Bath, was one such establishment.
In Jane Austen’s, The Beautiful Cassandra, her heroine “…then proceeded to a Pastry-cook’s, where she devoured six ices, refused to pay for them, knocked down the Pastry Cook & walked away.” Slapstick comedy does seem to have been the name of the game in Austen’s early work. Mr. Punch would be proud. The following recipe for Apricot Ice Cream is taken from Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends, and is based on one first printed by Hannah Glasse in her Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1755.
To Make Ice-Cream
Pare and stone twelve ripe apricots, and scald them, beat them fine in a mortar, add to them six ounces of double refined sugar, and a pint of scalding cream, and work it through a sieve; put it in a tin with a close cover, and set it in a tub of ice broke small, with four handfuls of salt mixed among the ice. When you see your cream grows thick round the edges of your tin, stir it well and put it in again till it is quite thick; when the cream is all froze up, take it out of the tin, and put it into the mould you intend to turn it out of; put on the lid and have another tub of salt and ice ready as before; put the mould in the middle, and lay the ice under and over it; let it stand for four hours, and never turn it out till the moment you want it, then dip the mould in cold spring water, and turn it into a plate. You may do any sort of fruit the same way. HG
- 12 ripe Apricots
- 170 g / 6 oz / ¾ cup Powdered Sugar
- 470 ml / 16 fl oz / 2 cups of Cream
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Score the bottom of each apricot and place them in the pan. Let them boil furiously for 3 minutes. Drain the apricots in a colander and rinse them in cold water. The skins will now slip easily from them. Slice them in half and remove the pits.
Place the apricots, cream and sugar into a blender and purée until smooth. Pour this mixture into a dish with a tight fitting lid and place it in the freezer.
After 1 ½ hours, stir the ice cream so that it is smooth once more and return it to the freezer. Continue this process every few hours until it is semi-hard. Spoon the mixture into prepared moulds or allow it to harden in the dish and serve it in small scoops. You may also use an ice Cream maker to speed this process and produce a uniformly creamy ice cream. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.