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Fancy’s Fools

Alison Steadman and Benjamin Whitrow as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet.

Benjamin Whitrow (Mr Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, 1995, fame) once said, “The Bennets do a lot of eating in the film, so Ron [Sutcliffe] the standby props man, asked me what I liked to eat. I told him gooseberry fool was my favorite pudding and he kindly provided it for me. It was so delicious that during the first two takes of the scene [episode six, “…Mr and Mrs Wickham shall never be admitted to Longbourn…”] I gorged myself. At the other end of the table Alison Steadman cannily toyed with a couple of grapes. It took two days to shoot this and I shall never be able to eat gooseberry fool again!” Continue reading Fancy’s Fools

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Gingerbread Cakes

Wordsworth

Nothing can be better on a chilly afternoon than warm Gingerbread cakes. In 1803, the poet William Wordsworth, home sick with a cold, certainly thought so. His sister, Dorothy records:

“Wm. had a fancy for some gingerbread; I put on Molly’s cloak and my spencer and walked towards Mathew Newton’s. . . the blind man and his sister were sitting by the fire. All seemed very clean in their Sunday clothes. They took their little stock of gingerbread out of the cupboard, and I bought 6 pennyworth. They were so grateful.”

In England, gingerbread refers not to a cake, but a type of biscuit made with ginger. It commonly takes the form of a gingerbread man. Gingerbread men are first attributed to Queen Elizabeth I, who allegedly served the figurines to foreign dignitaries. Today, however, they are generally served at Christmastime. Continue reading Gingerbread Cakes

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Rich Pound Cake

Cake, often regarded as dessert, was in fact, during Jane Austen’s day, saved for breakfast or tea. Dessert, as mentioned in an earlier article, would have been fruit and nuts. Upon a visit to Stoneleigh Abbey, Mrs Austen, Jane’s mother, was known to have remarked on the quantity of food at breakfast, listing, “Chocolate Coffee and Tea, Plumb Cake, Rich Pound Cake, Hot Rolls, Cold Rolls, Bread and Butter, and dry toast for me”. The capitalizations are hers. Continue reading Rich Pound Cake