Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pride & Prejudice: Regency Desserts & Delicacies

These are the desserts I made for the Pride & Prejudice Party.

For each dessert I made a label explaining about the food and its history, which were on the table on the night.

Chocolate Cream (pictured above) (really just like chocolate mousse - soooooooo rich and yummy) This is an original Regency recipe:

"Take a pt of cream with a spoonfull scrapt chocolate boyle them well together mix with ye yolks of 2 eggs & thicken & mill it on ye fier then pour it into your chocolate cups"

But I used a regular recipe containing dark chocolate, butter, eggs and cream - pretty similar.

Bakewell Tart
The Bakewell Tart was supposedly invented at The Rutland Arms in Bakewell. It is claimed that Jane Austen stayed there in 1811 and she based Lambton in “Pride and Prejudice” on the town.

It contains ground almonds, jam and lemon - delicious. I even made this in a gluten free version and it still worked! My icing came out a bit wonky though ...

Original recipe from Jane Austen's sister-in-law Martha Lloyd:
"Take three Naple biscuits. Cut them in slices. Dip them in sack. Lay them on the bottom of your dish. Then make a custard of a pint of cream and five eggs and put over them. Them make a whipt syllabub as light as possible to cover the whole. The higher it is piled, the handsomer it looks."

Instead of following that recipe (having no "sack") I made a cake (gluten free - usually I buy a jam roll) and used bought custard, jelly, peaches and cream.

Cheesecakes (top tier)
"Our journey yesterday went off exceedingly well; nothing occurred to alarm or delay us... At Devizes we had comfortable rooms and a good dinner, to which we sat down about five; amongst other things we had asparagus and a lobster, which made me wish for you, and some cheesecakes, on which the children made so delightful a supper as to endear the town of Devizes to them for a long time."
—Jane Austen writing to her sister Cassandra, Queen's Square, Friday (May 17) 1799

These little cakes don't actually contain cheese. They are a pastry tart with cake mixture spooned on top (plus a little raspberry jam). On top of that you make a little cross with 2 twisted pastry strips. These looked very effective and charming, but on the night they tasted a bit dry.

Eccles Cakes (lower tier)
"In 1793 James Birch’s shop on the corner of Vicarage Road in Eccles began selling small, flat, raisin-filled cakes. They sold, quite literally, like hot cakes!
Although traditionally made in the town from where they get their name, Eccles cakes are now famous throughout the world. As early as 1818 they were said to be sold "at all the markets and fairs around and are even exported to America and the West Indies".

Eccles cakes are like fruit mince pies made with puff pastry. I really liked these, and will make them again, maybe even at Christmas. The filling is currants and mixed peel. Yummy and so easy.

Besides all this we had Marzipan Strawberries and real strawberries. Strawberries feature in Jane Austen's Emma, particularly.

And here are my elegant guests surveying the feast and reading the little labels before helping themselves:


Emily said...

I am so jealous!!! I wish I could come!! The food looks fantastic too - what a fun celebration!!

Cathy said...

You have been designing all kinds of things! Your guests must have been thankful for the invitation....I know I certainly would have been.

Hill upon Hill said...

That is amazing. The desserts look so good, the table and the guests look wonderful. What joy and fun..... Your labours were worth it.... Would love the bakewell tart recipe and method for choc mousse. Or could I have that choc filling recipe for the choc pie you made a while back? So lovely, like how the cakes had their original place in the text of Jane Austen books...