If you’ve done a fair amount of reading in the regency genre, you’ll have come across a reference to Gunter’s. I’ve seen it mentioned as a place for a chaperoned daytime outing, and as a purveyor of catering for balls and banquets.
Studying up on the place, one learns it was founded way back in 1757 as “The Pot and Pineapple”. By the time the regency was in full swing, it was owned by James Gunter. The name was synonymous with the finest in treats., such as ice cream, sweets, and pastries.
Being inventive with ice cream flavors tempted more customers. Some extraordinary flavors from those days were jasmine, elderflower, and parmesan, among others. Gunter’s establishment lived on into the twentieth century, but is no longer in existence.
It touches me to know that today’s confectioners’ obsession with wild flavors is not unique to our lavish times. Researching some of our latest flavors in 2013 brought to my attention: ale & bacon, salted caramel, pear with blue cheese, lemon basil, and Marsala date flavors.
200 years from the heyday of the regency and we still crave our unusually-flavored ice cream.
What’s your favorite flavor? Most unusual you’ve had?
We are so used to those luscious candies we justify eating at Christmas time—fudge, Godiva chocolates, cherry cordials, etc.—that we don’t consider how little chocolate was available during the Regency, and certainly not in cream-filled or even buttery forms. Mostly, chocolate was for drinking.
Here, however, are two recipes for candies that might have been made at Christmas time—confectionary and chocolate drops.
To Make Confectionary Drops
Take double refined sugar, pound and sift it through a hair sieve, not too fine; then sift it through a silk sieve to take out all the fine dust which would destroy the beauty of the drop. Put the sugar into a clean pan, and moisten it with any favourite aromatic…Colour it with a small quantity of liquid carmine, or any other colour, ground fine. Take a small pan with a lip, fill it three parts with paste, place it on a small stove, the half hole being the size of the pan, and stir the sugar with a little ivory or bone handle, until it becomes liquid. When it almost boils, take it from the fire and continue to stir it: if it be too moist, take a little of the powdered sugar, and add a spoonful to the paste, and stir it till it is of such a consistence as to run without too much extension. Have a tin plate, very clean and smooth; take the little pan in the left hand, and hold in the right a bit of iron, copper, or silver wire, four inches long, to take off the drop from the lip of the pan, and let it fall regularly on the tin plate; two hours afterwards, take off the drops with the blade of a knife.
To Make Chocolate Drops
Scrape the chocolate to powder, and put an ounce to each pound of sugar; moisten the paste with clear water, work it as above, only take care to use all the paste prepared, as if it be put on the fire a second time, it greases, and the drop is not of the proper thickness.
Note: A pound of sugar is about 2 cups by modern measurements. I have no idea how much an ounce of cocoa powder is, but this would be like Hershey’s cocoa powder for baking.
And if you want something a little more nutritious to serve before the chocolate, here is a recipe for White Soup that says it is good for all seasons:
1/4 lb. of sweet almonds, 1/4 lb. of cold veal or poultry, a thick slice of stale bread, a piece of fresh lemon-peel, 1 blade of mace, pounded, 3/4 pint of cream, the yolks of 2 hard-boiled eggs, 2 quarts of white stock.
Reduce the almonds in a mortar to a paste, with a spoonful of water, and add to them the meat, which should be previously pounded with the bread.
Beat all together, and add the lemon-peel, very finely chopped, and the mace.
Pour the boiling stock on the whole, and simmer for an hour. Rub the eggs in the cream, put in the soup, bring it to a boil, and serve immediately.
I noticed the tree from more than fifty yards away.
In fact, I’m sure I couldn’t have ignored it had I tried.
Its branches stretched a canopy out over the road. Its leaves had already begun to fall, creating a fiery blanket of orange and yellow on the surrounding grass. And though I hadn’t thought this would happen on a simple drive to the office, I was suddenly enchanted. It was as if the earth had whispered on a last August breeze and I was convinced to pause and appreciate its song. With it, I began to think about the shift from summer to autumn. It reminded me that on mild mornings such as that one, change is right around the corner.
It reminded me of the gift of beautiful days.
As the weather becomes cooler and the days grow short, we’ll soon be drawn indoors for much of our memory making. There will be new smells, tastes, sights and sounds to enjoy – all gifts of the senses that remind us of our blessings and God’s provision through the seasons of the year. As crisp nights and foggy mornings make their first appearance on the landscape, we will pass from the relaxing sanctuary of summer to the lively colors of autumn. And after all of the fun and frolic we’ve had in our August days here at Regency Reflections, we’re ready to move on and welcome the new season…
In the Regency years, autumn would usher in the enjoyment of tastes such as hartshorn, cranberry, and orange jellies (find tasty Jane Austen Centre at Bath recipes here), Barmbrack (a traditional Irish fruit bread), an array of harvest fruits (apples, pears, currants, apricots and grapes), mulled wines and spiced ciders, nuts, puddings, decadent trifles and warm, sweet confections. (Jam tartlets anyone?)
Can you smell the cinnamon? Perhaps taste the earthy nutmeg as it melts on your tongue? It would have been these new flavors that crossed-over into the harvest season to come.
The changing of seasons would also bring the last thrills of summer before the celebration of fall. Country dances would still be held outside (as long as the weather would hold) and many a Regency family would remain at their country homes through much of the hunting and holiday season, enjoying the great outdoors while the weather was still hospitable enough to entertain. Young men might be sent off back to school and young girls, usually engaged in a less formal education, would be enriched in their own knowledge with lessons in music, drawing, dancing and language studies at home.
Leaves would still fall and the harvest was still celebrated.
There were still beautiful days.
Other than the fox hunting and hartshorn jelly of course, autumn in the Regency Era isn’t all that different from what we experience today. We’ve probably seen the children heading back to school. Vacations are likely over. It’s back to work through the week and relishing in the leisure on the weekends. Summer has passed and the harvest is here. And in the months to come, the authors of Regency Reflections will explore this beautiful season with you.
As seasons change, remember that memories of the fun and frolic in our summer days will warm the frosty nights to come. Remember that the God worshipped in the Regency Era is the same Father that orchestrates the transition of our seasons today. He creates the color of fallen leaves on our way to work. He generates the wind-whispers and the beauty in our changing days. And yes, His blessings are thoughtfully remembered as the harvest is brought in.
What will you remember most about the fun and frolic of your August summer days? What are you looking forward to celebrating in the new season ahead?
Welcome September, and may we find nothing but the gift of His beautiful days ahead.
English Housewifery Exemplified In above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts Giving Directions for most Parts of Cookery
published in 1764.
This cookbook precedes the regency by about 50 years,but I imagine many of these recipes (or “receipts” as they were called then) were still in use.
Scrolling through this cookbook on Project Gutenberg’s site, I found some interesting dishes including:
HOW TO JUGG PIGEONS.
I wasn’t sure what ‘jugging’ meant. The dictionary has the verb, to jug, meaning stewing meat in an earthenware jug.
Take six or eight pigeons and truss them, season them with nutmeg, pepper and salt.
To make the Stuffing. Take the livers and shred them with beef-suet, bread-crumbs, parsley, sweet-marjoram, and two eggs, mix alltogether, then stuff your pigeons sowing (sic) them up at both ends, and put them into your jugg with the breast downwards, with half a pound of butter; stop up the jugg close with a cloth that no steam can get out, then set them in a pot of water to boil; they will take above two hours stewing; mind you keep your pot full of water, and boiling all the time; when they are enough clear from them the gravy, and take the fat clean off; put to your gravy a spoonful of cream, a little lemon-peel, an anchovy shred, a few mushrooms, and a little white wine, thicken it with a little flour and butter, then dish up your pigeons, and pour over them the sauce. Garnish the dish with mushrooms and slices of lemon.
This is proper for a side dish.
How’s this for a little deception, making a rabbit look like a partridge? The only thing is, I have no idea what they mean by cutting off a rabbit’s wings (cutting off its floppy ears?):
TO DRESS RABBETS TO LOOK LIKE MOOR-GAME.
Take a young rabbet, when it is cased cut off the wings and the head; leave the neck of your rabbet as long as you can; when you case it you must leave on the feet, pull off the skin, leave on the claws, so double your rabbet and skewer it like a fowl; put a skewer at the bottom through the legs and neck, and tie it with a string, it will prevent its flying open; when you dish it up make the same sauce as you would do for partridges.
Three are enough for one dish.
And for a little dessert:
AN APPLE PUDDING
Take half a dozen large codlins, or pippens, roast them and take out the pulp; take eight eggs, (leave out six of the whites) half a pound of fine powder sugar, beat your eggs and sugar well together, and put to them the pulp of your apples, half a pound of clarified butter, a little lemon-peel shred fine, a handful of bread crumbs or bisket (sic), four ounces of candid orange or citron, and bake it with a thin paste under it.
The recipe ends there. Perhaps a thin paste is a pastry shell?
It would have been interesting to sample some of this fare.
It’s four ingredients. Yes, four and these gems are so good. I love to cook, so you’ll often find me in the kitchen. I like elegant great tasting easy to create recipes. So this is one of my personal favorites.
Ingredients: 1 cup of peanut butter, the crunchy type with peanuts 1 egg white (You need to cut the cholesterol somewhere.) 1 cup of sugar (I use raw cane sugar, sounds healthier, but you may eat so many that this doesn’t help)
1/2 of Christmas Candy or Chocolate chopped to be peanut size.
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment or a silicone mat. They will stick to your tray if you don’t, not good eats, a big mess. No one has time for all that cleaning. Combine all the ingredients together mixing until you have a smooth dough-like consistency. Take a scoop of it and form a small ball. Flatten it out onto the tray. Get fancy and make crisscrosses with a fork’s tines. Place the cookies at least an inch apart.
When your tray is full and your oven is ready, pop these into the oven for about 7 minutes. Be careful not to overbake and adjust your timing based on your oven. The cookies should be a light golden brown. You want these to be chewy. When you take them from the oven, let them cool on the tray for about 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack. I usually just pick up the parchment and set it on the rack to cool completely.
Your patience will be reward with chewy yummy goodness.
My Favorite Christmas Novel: Frederica is quite the hostess and loves to make sure her guest has the right treats. Find out more about her in The Butterfly Bride:
It’s three ingredients, and they are so good. I love to cook, so you’ll often find me in the kitchen. I like elegant great tasting easy to create recipes. So this is one of my personal favorites.
1 cup of peanut butter, the crunchy type with peanuts
1 egg white (You need to cut the cholesterol somewhere.)
1 cup of sugar (I use raw cane sugar, sounds healthier, but you may eat so many that this doesn’t help)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking tray with parchment or a silicone mat. They will stick to your tray if you don’t, not good eats, a big mess. No one has time for all that cleaning.
Combine all three ingredients together mixing until you have a smooth dough-like consistency.
Take a scoop of it and form a small ball. Flatten it out onto the tray.
Get fancy and make crisscrosses with a fork’s tines. Place the cookies at least an inch apart.
When your tray is full and your oven is ready, pop these into the oven for about 7 minutes. Be careful not to overbake and adjust your timing based on your oven. They should be a light golden brown. You want these to be chewy.
When you take them from the oven, let them cool on the tray for about 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack. I usually just pick up the parchment and set it on the rack to cool completely.
Your patience will be reward with chewy yummy goodness.
Frederica is quite the hostess and loves to make sure her guest has the right treats. Find out more about her in The Butterfly Bride: