17th-century 'Great British Bake Off' recipes

The Great British Bake Off contestants will tonight battle it out to impress star bakers Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. But how would they have coped in a 17th-century kitchen, and what sort of bakes might they have produced?

This article was first published in October 2013

Baking the unleavened bread, 1657 (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)
Baking the unleavened bread, 1657 (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

All images are © Wellcome Images

Hannah Bisaker’s puff pastry, 1692

To make puff paist

"Take halfe a quortorh of The Finest Flower then mix yo Flower and water and
Four white of Eggs together, mould up yo paste but not too stiff,
Then role yo Past out into a Sheete. Then lay some Butter in litle Pecies
Till you have Filled yo sheete but doe not lay it Towards The ends to neare, 
Then Dust a little Flower with yo Drudging Box then Fould it up
Twice before you put any more Then doe soe Till yo have put in
a pound keeping it a little dusted very Fine yo put it to yo Butter,
handle it a little Then cut it to yo own Fancie

 

Lady Ann Fanshawe's icy cream, 1651-1707

To make Icy Cream

Take three pints of the best cream, boyle it with
a blade of Mace, or else perfume it with orang flower water
or Amber-Greece, sweeten the Cream, with sugar let it stand
till it is quite cold, then put it into Boxes, ether of Silver
or tinn then take, Ice chopped into small peeces and
putt it into a tub and set the Boxes in the Ice couering
them all over, and let them stand in the Ice two
hours, and the Cream Will come to be Ice in the Boxes,
then turne them out into a salvar with some of the same
Seasoned Cream, so sarue it up at the Table.

 

Lady Ann Fanshawe's sugar cakes, 1651-1707

To make Sugar Cakes

Take 2 pound of Butter, one pound of fine Sugar, the yolkes of nine
Egs, a full Spoonfull of Mace beat & searsed [sifted], as much Flower as this
will well wett making them so stiffe as you may rowle it out, then
with the Cup of a glasse of what Size you please cutt them into
round Cakes & pricke them and bake them.

 

Orange pudding c1685-c1725

To make Orange Pudding

Take 2 Oranges pare them and cut them in little pieces,
then take 12 Ounces of fine Sugar, beat them in a stone morter,
put to them 12 Ounces of butter and 12 Yolkes of Eggs,
and beat all these together, then make a very good paste,
and lay a sheet of paste upon a dish and so lay on your pudding,
and cover it with another sheet of paste,
and set it in the oven, an hour will bake it

 

How to Cook a Husband (c1710-1725)

How to Cook a Husband

As Mr Glass said of the hare, you must first catch him. Having done so,
the mode of cooking him, so as to make a good dish of him, is as follows.
Many good husbands are spoiled in the cooking; some women go about
it as if their husbands were bladders, and blow them up. Others keep them
constantly in hot water, while others freeze them by conjugal coldness.
Some smother them with hatred, contention and variance, and some keep
them in pickle all their lives. These women always serve them up with tongue
sauce. Now it cannot be supposed that husbands will be tender and good if
managed in that way. But they are, on the contrary, very delicious when
managed as follows: Get a large jar called the jar of carefulness, (which all
good wives have on hand), place your husband in it, and set him near the
fire of conjugal love; let the fire be pretty hot, but especially let it be clear - above
all, let the heat be constant. Cover him over with affection, kindness and 
subjection. Garnish with modest, becoming familiarity, and the spice of 
pleasantry; and if you had kisses and other confectionaries let them be 
accompanied with a sufficient portion of secrecy, mixed with prudence and
moderation. We would advise all good wives to try this receipt and realise
how admirable a dish a husband is when properly cooked.

In our July podcast, Dr Sara Pennell explores changing attitudes to food in the early modern period. To listen, click here.

More recipes can be found at the Wellcome Library.

We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here