The Ladies' Tea Guild

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Regency Tea, fit for Jane Austen herself.

The Republic of Pemberly.
Jane Austen, one of the most famous female authors of the western world, has many fans in the United States and England.  She kept diaries and wrote many letters, as well as her well-known novels, and her writings record her love for tea and the fact that preparing breakfast and tea for her family was part of her domestic chores every day.  She also wrote that she bought her family’s tea from Twinings in London, when she visited her wealthy older brother in town, which means the modern Jane Austen fan can drink almost the same tea she did! 

Since many recipe books were written and published during Jane Austen’s lifetime, there is a wealth of information about the kinds of food that people would enjoy with their tea.  Google Books is a really good source for these antique cookbooks, and although the recipes need some re-working for modern use, they are still capable of producing delicious results.  The South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild is preparing to have their own Regency Tea later this month, featuring some of these period recipes:

"To make tea crumpets.—Beat two eggs very well, put them to a quart of warm milk and water, and a large spoonful of barm: beat in as much fine flour as will make them rather thicker than a common batter pudding, then make your bakestone very hot, and rub it with a little butter wrapped in a clean linen cloth, then pour a large spoonful of batter upon your stone, and let it run to the size of a tea-saucer; turn it, and when you want to use them roast them very crisp, and butter them."
---The Experienced English Housekeeper, Elizabeth Raffald, [unabridged facsimile 1769 print with an introduction by Roy Shipperbottom [Southover Press:East Sussex] 1997

“To make a Carraway Cake.—Take eighteen eggs, leave out half of the whites, and beat them; take two pounds of butter, wash the butter clear from milk and salt, put to it a little rose-water, and wash your butter very well with your hands till it take up all the eggs, then mix them in half a jack of brandy and sack; grate into your eggs a lemon rind; put in by degrees (a spoonful at a time) two pounds of fine flour, a pound and a half of loaf sugar, that is sifted and dry; when you have mixed them very well with your hands, take a thible and beat it very well for half an hour, till it look very white, then mix to it a few seeds, six ounces of carraway comfits, and half a pound of citron and candid orange; then beat it well, butter your garth, and put it in a quick oven.”
-- from Project Gutenberg's English Housewifery Exemplified, by Elizabeth Moxon (1764)

“To make Shrewsberry Cakes.—Take two pounds of fine flour, put to it a pound and a quarter of butter (rub them very well) a pound and a quarter of fine sugar sifted, grate in a nutmeg, beat in three whites of eggs and two yolks, with a little rose-water, and so knead your paste with it, let it lay an hour, then make it up into cakes, prick them and lay them on papers, wet them with a feather dipt in rose-water, and grate over them a little fine sugar; bake them in a slow oven, either on tins or paper.”
-- from Project Gutenberg's English Housewifery Exemplified, by Elizabeth Moxon (1764)

"Apple Puffs.  Pare, quarter, and core six large apples, put them into a sauce-pan with a little water and lemon-peel, cover them close, and stew them gently till they are tender; take out the lemon-peel, and with a spoon put in a tea-spoonful of rose water, make a nice puff paste, roll in out thin to any small size you please, put in a little of the apple, turn the paste over, and close them with a knife; cut them either three-corner ways or square, or in any shape you please, ice them, and bake them in a moderate overn or tin or iron plates."
---The New Art of Cookery According to Present Practice, Richard Briggs [W. Spotswood, R. Campbell, and B. Johnson:Philadelphia] 1792 (p. 382)

For more information:
"What would Jane Austen eat with her tea"
"How to have a Jane Austen tea party"
“Tea history: what type of tea did American Founders drink?”
“Tea is good for more than a beverage: historic uses for tea and tea leaves”
Tea with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson
“English Muffins” Regency recipe from the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England 
“Jane Austen Historic Reciepts”
“The Georgian Breakfast” from the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England
“Tea in the Regency Era”
“Jane Austen Lived Before the Inventor of the Tea Party” by Jenny Wells
"Jane Austen Life and Works Timeline History"
“A Jane Austen Tea Time Party”

No comments:

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)