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The Perfect Jane Austen Teacup Cupcakes!

Our new re-usable Jane Austen Teacup Cupcake Cases have proved a huge hit, and a number of you have asked us if we had any cup cake recipes that would be perfect for use with the little cups… … and indeed we do!   Ingredients: 50g caster sugar 50g butter/margarine  50g self-raising flour 1 egg A few drops of vanilla essence   Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Cream together the sugar and the butter until smooth. Beat the egg and then add it to the sugar/butter mixture a little at a time. Stir in the sifted flour and vanilla essence. Grease the teacup insides and place onto a baking tray. Divide the mixture evenly between the four teacups. Bake for between 15-20 minutes or until the cakes look golden brown. Wait until cool and then decorate!   For coffee cake:  Add 5ml (one teaspoon) of instant coffee, dissolved in hot water, to the cake mixture along with the flour and instead of the vanilla essence.   We’d love to see how you get on! Feel free to email photographs of your creations to us at austensocialmedia@gmail.com, or message us on Facebook or Twitter!   Save Save Save Save Save (more…)
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Parbake & Prose: Making Mr Bingley’s soup

Parbake & Prose is a project created by sibling bibliophile and chef team, Daniella Rossi and Eric Upper.

The concept is pretty simple: Parbake & Prose takes a look at great works of literature, from Greek epic poems to modern classics, and creates recipes based on the dishes in them. Daniella lives in London and is a committed bibliophile, having studied languages and literature at New York University and receiving a doctorate from the University of Cambridge. After graduation, she spent years working at one of the world’s oldest rare book specialists in London. So books are her thing. Eric lives in New York. He studied at the French Culinary Institute there, and has chefed at Michelin-star restaurants including Charlie Palmer’s Aureole and Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas. He is currently working on a restaurant startup in NYC. Eric creates the recipes.

The blog explores intriguing books with important food references that help to either progress the storyline, showcase character development or reveal history. Then it provides a step-by-step recipe and cooking guide so you can recreate each dish. Eric and Daniella spend hours conceiving and testing the recipes and balance staying as true as possible to the literary reference with the tastiness of the end product.

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Mrs. Weston’s Wedding Cake

In Jane Austen’s day, weddings were often held first thing in the morning, after which the bridal couple and their guests returned home to celebrate with a wedding breakfast like that served to Anna Austen and Benjamin Lefroy in 1814: “The breakfast was such as best breakfasts then were. Some variety of bread, hot rolls, buttered toast, tongue, ham and eggs. The addition of chocolate at one end of the table and the wedding-cake in the middle marked the speciality of the day.” Though rich fruit and nut cakes had been used for centuries, in 1786 Elizabeth Raffald was the first to publish a recipe for a cake specifically for weddings. The cake was served not only at the wedding breakfast, but also shared with the household servants and sent in pieces to friends and relatives who had not attended the ceremony. These wedding cakes were single tiered, double frosted confections, though by no means small. Queen Victoria’s 1840 wedding cake measured 9 feet around and weighed 300 pounds, although it was only 14 inches high. A period depiction of Queen Victoria’s wedding cake. This recipe makes an enormous cake. I have quartered the ingredients and it fit nicely into my 12 ½cm/ 5in deep, 25cm /10in springform pan. To Make a Bride Cake Take four pounds of fine flour well dried, four pounds of fresh butter, two pounds of loaf sugar, pound and sift fine a quarter of an ounce of mace the same of nutmegs, to every pound (more…)
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Hot Cross Buns

I still remember my piano lessons, which began at age three (and ended soon after!) The first song I learned was “Hot Cross Buns”. I recently taught it to my six year old son, when he became aware of these treats, which appeared (ironically) in stores as soon as Lent began. Hot Cross Buns at Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly, April 2010, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns! If you have no daughters, Give them to your sons. One a penny two a penny, Hot cross buns! The commonly known (and now heard throughout my house) cry actually appeared in print no earlier than 1798, published in London in that year’s Christmas Box. An earlier version, however, appeared in 1733 in in Poor Robin’s Almanack, and ran as follows, “Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs With one or two a penny hot cross buns.” A vintage illustration of a Hot Cross Bun seller. The price is stated quite clearly in this verse and remarkably, remained constant for over 200 years—a fact pointed out by Charles Dickens’s son in his 1889 edition of All the Year Round. Buns marked with a cross on top had been known since the time of the ancient Greeks and the spiced, fruited buns now associated with the name, were once sold throughout England, where the cry of street hawkers could be heard all down the streets. They were, however, by (more…)
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Serle’s Soft Boiled Eggs

Boiled eggs have been a mealtime staple probably since boiling anything was invented. In fact, egg cups (you know what these are: those adorable little cups perfect for holding hard or soft boiled eggs) have been found during archaeological explorations of Crete dating to as early as the 18th century BC. An early silver version from 74 BC was even found in the ruins at Pompeii. Soft boiled eggs were, by Jane Austen’s time, not only served at breakfast, as the broken egg shells on the table at Mansfield Park suggest, but also served throughout the day, as a healthy, plain food for children and invalids. In Emma, they are one of the few foods that even invalid Mr. Woodhouse can recommend with grace: “Mrs Bates, let me propose your venturing on one of these eggs. An egg boiled very soft is not unwholesome. Serle understands boiling an egg better than any body. I would not recommend an egg boiled by any body else; but you need not be afraid, they are very small, you see — one of our small eggs will not hurt you.” Soft boiled eggs in adorable cups, with, perhaps, little hats or “cosies” on top are a favorite childhood memory for many. Paired with hot, buttered toast “soldiers” (narrow strips of toast for dunking in the runny yolk) they can make the most important meal of the day a comfort food feast. This silver egg service for 6 dates to 1820 and was recently sold (more…)
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Steventon Roast Potatoes Recipe

roast potatoes recipePotatoes were grown at Steventon as early as 1773. In this, Mrs. Austen was decades ahead of her time, and the wonder of her neighbours who supposed them to be a dish fit only for gentry. Puddings had served as the main source of starch in English diets, but a wheat shortage in 1794 led the Board of Agriculture to advise all clergy “to encourage, as much as they can, the farmers and cottagers to plant potatoes this spring, in order that the kingdom may experience no scarcity…” A silhouette of Mrs. Austen. Though nearly seventy when the family moved to Chawton Cottage, Mrs. Austen “found plenty of occupation for herself, in gardening and needlework. The former was, with her, no idle pastime, no mere cutting of roses and tying up of flowers. She dug up her own potatoes, and I have no doubt she planted them, for the kitchen garden was as much her delight as the flower borders, and I have heard my mother say that when at work, she wore a green round frock like a day-labourer’s.” (Fanny Caroline Lefroy, great-granddaughter of Mrs. Austen) There was, at the time, some difference of opinion about the preparation of potatoes, as voiced by Susannah Carter: “Some pare potatoes before they are put into the pot; others think it the best way, both for saving time and preventing waste, to peel off the skin as soon as they are boiled.” I chose the former manner for this roast potatoes recipe (more…)
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The 17th Century Origins of the Candy Cane

For some people, Christmas is all about the foods, for others, a single piece of candy cane or the scent of pine can bring them back to their childhood holidays. It is no stretch to suggest that the Candy Cane is one of the most Christmasized of all candies– probably because it was created for the season and is fraught with meaning for those who choose to look for it. According to legend, they have a German history, but given the German origins of the British monarchy during Jane Austen’s life, it’s not a stretch to think that the treat might have been brought over to England, along with the Christmas tree and other, older traditions, like the Yule Log. Did Jane enjoy stick candy or candy canes? We may never know.   “According to folklore, in 1670, in Cologne, Germany, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral, wishing to remedy the noise caused by children in his church during the Living Crèche tradition of Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker for some sweet sticks for them. In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick, which would help children remember the shepherds who paid visit to infant Jesus. In addition, he used the white colour of the converted sticks to teach children about the Christian belief in the sinless life of Jesus. From Germany, the candy canes spread to other (more…)
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Preserved Ginger

When Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra of the holiday visits they enjoyed (endured?) in 1808, she included a delightful word picture of one of their guests. As the letter is dated Tuesday, December 27, we can assume that Christmas was the previous Sunday and the visit occurred on December 22. It gives a glimpse into the Austen’s dining and entertaining menu while they lived in the Castle Square neighborhood of Southampton, before moving to Chawton Cottage in Hampshire, the following July.

Our evening party on Thursday produced nothing more remarkable than Miss Murden’s coming too, though she had declined it absolutely in the morning, and sitting very ungracious and very silent with us from seven o’clock till half after eleven, for so late was it, owing to the chairmen, before we got rid of them.

The last hour, spent in yawning and shivering in a wide circle round the fire, was dull enough, but the tray had admirable success. The widgeon and the preserved ginger were as delicious as one could wish. But as to our black butter, do not decoy anybody to Southampton by such a lure, for it is all gone. The first pot was opened when Frank and Mary were here, and proved not at all what it ought to be; it was neither solid nor entirely sweet, and on seeing it Eliza remembered that Miss Austen had said she did not think it had been boiled enough. It was made, you know, when we were absent. Such being the event of the first pot, I would not save the second, and we therefore ate it in unpretending privacy; and though not what it ought to be, part of it was very good.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
Castle Square, December 27, 1808

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