Old Country Customs

The chief delicacy at these [harvest] teas was “baker’s cake”, a rich, fruity, spicy dough cake, obtained in the following manner. The housewife provided all the ingredients excepting the dough, putting raisins and currants, lard, sugar and spice in a basin which she gave to the baker, who added the dough, made and baked the cake, and returned it, beautifully browned in his big oven. The charge was the same as that for a loaf of bread the same size, and the result was delicious.                                            (Flora Thompson, Lark Rise to Candleford)

One of the things I’ve found most interesting through writing this blog is finding out about food customs from the past. Whether it be the rout cakes made for large gatherings in Jane Austen’s Emma, the cook shops of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield or the superstitions about butter-making in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, literature often provides a fascinating insight into the culinary and food traditions of the time.   Continue reading “Old Country Customs”

Afternoon tea

ALGERNON: When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. …At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins.
JACK: Well, that is no reason why you should eat them all in that greedy way. (Takes muffins from ALGERNON)
ALGERNON: (Offering tea-cake.) I wish you would have tea-cake instead. I don’t like tea-cake.

(Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest)

Food-wise you can’t get much more quintessentially English than afternoon tea: sandwiches (ideally cucumber and crustless), scones with jam and cream and an array of cakes. Continue reading “Afternoon tea”