Top 5 Jane Austen recipes

Whether it's breakfast at Northanger Abbey, tea and cake at Mansfield Park, or one of Mrs Bennet’s dinners to impress, food is an important theme in Jane Austen’s novels. And now, Austen fans can recreate the dishes featured in the author's works, thanks to new book Dinner with Mr Darcy

Copyright CICO Books
Copyright CICO Books

Written by Pen Vogler, the editor of Penguin’s Great Food series, the book also features dishes Jane and her family were known to have enjoyed.

Here, we've selected our top five Jane Austen recipes.

Dinner with Mr Darcy by Pen Vogler is published by CICO Books

Flummery

Flummery is a white jelly, which was set in elegant molds or as shapes in clear jelly. Its delicate, creamy taste goes particularly well with rhubarb, strawberries, and raspberries. A modern version would be to add the puréed fruit to the ingredients, taking away the same volume of water.

1⁄2 cup/50g ground almonds
1 tsp natural rosewater (with no added alcohol)
A drop of natural almond extract
11⁄4 cups/300ml milk
1 1⁄4 cups heavy (double) cream 1–2 tbsp superfine (caster) sugar 5 gelatin leaves

1) Put the gelatin in a bowl and cover with cold water; leave for 4–5 minutes

2) Pour the milk, almonds, and sugar into a saucepan and heat slowly until just below boiling.

3) Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatin leaves and add them to the almond milk. Simmer for a few minutes, keeping it below boiling point. Let it cool a little and strain it through cheesecloth, or a very fine sieve

4) Whip the cream until thick, and then fold it into the tepid mixture. Wet your molds (essential, to make it turn out), put the flummery in (keeping some back for the hen’s nest recipe below if you’d like) and leave to stand in the fridge overnight

5) To serve: If you don’t have a jelly mold with a removable lid, dip the mold briefly into boiling water before turning out the flummery

"To make Flummery Put one ounce of bitter and one of sweet almonds into a basin, pour over them some boiling water to make the skins come off, which is called blanching. Strip off the skins and throw the kernels into cold water. Then take them out and beat them in a marble mortar with a little rosewater to keep them from oiling. When they are beat, put them into a pint of calf’s foot stock, set it over the fire and sweeten it to your taste with loaf sugar. As soon as it boils strain it through a piece of muslin or gauze. When a little cold put it into a pint of thick cream and keep stirring it often till it grows thick and cold. Wet your moulds in cold water and pour in the flummery, let it stand five or six hours at least before you turn them out. If you make the flummery stiff and wet the moulds, it will turn out without putting it into warm water, for water takes off the figures of the mould and makes the flummery look dull." ELIZABETH RAFFALD,THE EXPERIENCED ENGLISH HOUSEKEEPER, 1769

Pigeon Pie

It was the custom to put ‘nicely cleaned’ pigeon feet in the crust to label the contents (although sensible Margaret Dods says ‘we confess we see little use and no beauty in the practice’). Georgian recipes for pigeon pie called for whole birds, but I’ve suggested stewing the birds first, so your guests don’t have to pick out the bones.

Serves 6–8 as part of a picnic spread

4 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
Slice of lean ham, chopped
4 pigeons with their livers tucked inside (the livers are hard to come by, but worth hunting out)
Flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
9 oz/250 g steak, diced (original cooks would have used rump steak, but you could use something cheaper like topside, diced across the grain of the meat)
Butter
Olive oil
Finely chopped parsley
2 white onions, roughly chopped
A bouquet garni of any of the following, tied together: thyme, parsley, marjoram, winter savory, a bay leaf
Beurre manie made with about 2 tsp butter and 2 tsp flour
1lb/500g rough puff pastry, chilled
Optional additions: 1 onion, peeled and quartered; 2 carrots, roughly chopped; 1 celery stick, roughly chopped

1) Brown the bacon and then the ham in a frying pan, then add the onions, if using, and cook until they are translucent. Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan

2) Flour the pigeons well and brown them all over in butter and olive oil in a frying pan, transferring them to the same large saucepan. Flour and brown the steak in the same way

3) Put the pigeons in a saucepan, and push the steak, bacon, and onions down all around them (choose a saucepan in which they will be quite tightly packed). Although the original recipe doesn’t include them, you may want to add the carrots and celery stick to improve the stock.

Add approximately 11⁄4 cups/300ml water, or enough to just cover the contents. Cover the pan, and simmer slowly until the meat comes off the pigeon bones — at least an hour.

Do not allow the pan to come to a boil or the beef will toughen. Remove from the heat.

4) When it is cool enough to handle, remove the steak and pigeons with a slotted spoon, and carefully pull the pigeon meat off the bones, keeping it as chunky as possible, and put it, with the livers from the cavity, with the steak. You should have a good thick sauce; if it is too thin, stir in the beurre manie a little at a time.

Wait for it to cook the flour, and thicken before adding any more, until you have the right consistency.

5) Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas Mark 5. Roll out two-thirds of the pastry and line a pie dish about 3 inches/8cm deep, keeping a good 1⁄4 inch/5mm of pastry above the lip of the dish to allow for shrinkage

6) Prick the bottom of the pastry and bake blind for 12 minutes. Add the meat mixture and pour in enough gravy to come to within an inch of the top.

Roll out the remaining pastry to cover the top, crimping the edges together. Make a vent in the center, and use the trimmings to decorate.

You may like to use the point of the knife to make small slash marks in the shape of pigeon footprints — a nod to the “nicely cleaned feet” of the original recipe. Bake for 25– 30 minutes until the pastry is lightly golden, and cooked through

7) To serve, this is a juicier pie than we are used to for picnics, so you will need plates, and knives and forks, in the Georgian manner

Clean and season the pigeons well in the inside with pepper and salt. Put into each bird a little chopped parsley mixed with the livers parboiled and minced, and some bits of butter. Cover the bottom of the dish with a beef-steak, a few cutlets of veal, or slices of bacon, which is more suitable. Lay in the birds; put the seasoned gizzards, and, if approved, a few hard-boiled yolks of egg into the dish. A thin slice of lean ham laid on the breast of each bird is an improvement to the flavour. Cover the pie with puff paste. A half-hour will bake it.
Observation — It is common to stick two or three feet of pigeons or moorfowl into the centre of the cover of pies as a label to the contents, though we confess we see little use and no beauty in the practice. Forcemeat-balls may be added to enrich the pie. Some cooks lay the steaks above the birds, which is sensible, if not seemly.
MARGARET DODS, THE COOK AND HOUSEWIFE’S MANUAL, 1826

Bath Olivers

These savory crackers (biscuits) were devised by William Oliver, an 18th-century physician in Bath after he realised the Bath Buns he had also invented were making his fashionable patients even fatter. They are perfect served with the English cheeses that the Georgian “higher sort” were beginning to enjoy.

Makes 30–40 crackers

Pinch of salt
3 3⁄4 cups/500g all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tablespoons/30g butter
1⁄4 oz/7g sachet active dried yeast
2⁄3 cup/150ml milk

1) Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C/Gas Mark 3

2) Sift the flour into a bowl and add the dried yeast and salt.Warm the butter and milk together, make a well in the flour and slowly add the liquid, stirring the flour into the center until you have a dough. Add some warm water if necessary

3) Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth; put it back in the bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes

4) Roll out well on a floured surface several times, folding the dough on itself, until it is very thin

5) Cut out with a circular biscuit cutter and prick the surface with a fork

6) Bake for 20–30 minutes until they are hard and bone-colored; if they are turning color, turn the oven down to 300°F/150°C/Gas Mark 2

7) To serve: With a rich local dairy industry, Jane’s circle and characters were likely to have often served local cheeses, including the famous Somerset Cheddar.

Mr Elton gives a clue to what a cheese course might consist of when he unromantically describes his whole dinner of the previous night to Harriet, when Emma overtakes them “and that she was herself come in for the Stilton cheese, the north Wiltshire, the butter, the celery, the beet-root and all the dessert”.

Mrs Norris happily gets both a receipt for and a sample of “a famous cream cheese” from the housekeeper at Sotherton. Mrs Austen describes “good Warwickshire cheese” made in the “delightful dairy” at Stoneleigh Abbey.

To Make Ollivers Biscuits Take 3llb of flour, 1⁄2 a pint of small beer barm. Take some milk and warm it a little put it to your barm and lay a spunge, let it lay for one hour. Then take a quarter of a pound of butter and warm up with some milk and mix your spunge and lay it to rise before the fire. Roll it out in thin cakes, bake it in a slow oven. (You must put a little salt in your flour, but not much, use them before the fire before you put them in the oven).
MARTHA LLOYD’S HOUSEHOLD BOOK

Negus

This mulled wine, created by Colonel Francis Negus (d.1732), was served at the balls in Mansfield Park and The Watsons, and was often offered to guests before their chilly journey home. By Victorian times it was thought to be the thing for children’s birthday parties! This version is safer served to adults.

Serves 16-20

1 x 25 fl oz/75cl bottle of port 25 fl oz/750 ml water
1–2 tbsp brown sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
About 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg Optional extra spices: 1 cinnamon stick and/or 8 whole cloves
Segments of orange and lemon, to serve

1) Put the water in a saucepan and add the lemon zest, a tablespoon of sugar and the spices. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer very gently for 10–15 minutes. Add the lemon juice

2) Strain, return to the saucepan and reheat. Add the port; taste it, and add a little more sugar if you like. Pour in the port and heat very gently to serving temperature. Put slices of lemon and/or orange into glasses before pouring in the Negus — or serve it from a pitcher (jug)

Miss Debary's Marmalade

Miss Debary was one of the “endless Debarys”; four sisters unloved by Jane who said they were “odious’” (letter to Cassandra 8 September 1816), and had bad breath! (letter to Cassandra, 20 November 1800). Marmalade was made from all kinds of fruit and eaten for dessert until the Scots made it from bitter Seville oranges and started serving it for breakfast at the end of the 18th century.

Makes 6 x 1 lb (450g) jars

1.5kg (3 1⁄4 lb) Seville oranges 2 sweet oranges
1 scant gallon/3.5 litres water
Juice of 2 lemons
About 6 lb/2.75 kg preserving sugar

1) Weigh the fruit and to each 18 oz/500g of fruit weigh out 26 oz/750g sugar. Quarter the fruit and cut off the rind, taking off a little of the pith if you want a sweeter marmalade

2) Boil the rind in water for 11⁄2 –2 hours; there should be a third of the water left. When it is cool, cut the rind into thin slices about 3⁄8 –3⁄4 inch/1–2cm long; Georgian cooks called these “chips”.

Chop the pulp and pick out the seeds (pips) and pith, or push it through a sieve. Put the chips, pulp and lemon juice into the water used to boil the rinds, and bring to a boil.

Add the sugar and boil vigorously for twenty minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom. When you have put the marmalade on to boil, leave a saucer in the fridge and put your jars on baking sheets into the oven at 350°F/180°C/Gas Mark 4 and leave them to sterilize for 20 minutes

3) After 20 minutes, put a little of the marmalade onto the cold plate. If it sets, it is ready; if not, test every five minutes until you get a set

4) Let the marmalade cool a little before decanting it into the hot jars. When it is cold, put wax paper on the surface, before adding the lids

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