If you're heading to one of our historic Jubilee celebrations this weekend, how about packing up a historic picnic to enjoy there too? Take some tips from our resident cook and kitchen maids at Audley End, who will be cooking up the kind of feast enjoyed at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897.
Enjoy your picnic at our Jubilee Picnic Parties in the glorious surroundings of Mount Grace Priory in North Yorkshire, Witley Court in Worcestershire, Old Wardour Castle in Wiltshire or Wrest Park in Bedfordshire.
Or visit Osborne House for a spectacular Jubilee celebration, featuring equestrian displays, fairground stalls and an appearance from Queen Victoria herself!
If you'd prefer to leave the cooking to the professionals, head to Audley End in Essex where our resident cook and kitchen maids will be preparing a tea party in the Victorian kitchens.
Created by one of Queen Victoria's cooks, Charles Esme Francatelli, these biscuits are one of a few of his recipes that appear to be dedicated to or inspired by his royal employers. This recipe for Albert Biscuits is quite flexible - you can make them as cakes, pipe them into trays or put them into moulds for a special occasion. The flavours are typical of enriched cakes of this period.
10oz pounded sugar
8oz finely-chopped almonds
12 yolks and 14 whites of eggs
2oz candied orange peel, shredded finely
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
Little grated lemon rind
Work the sugar and the almonds with the yolks and two whites of eggs for twenty minutes, then incorporate the remaining twelve whites, firmly whisked together, with the flour, candied-peel, and spices. Next pour the batter into a convenient-sized paper case, and bake it in a moderate oven. When done and sufficiently cold, let it be cut up into thin slices for dishing up. This preparation may also be baked in small moulds, or forced out upon paper or baking-sheets, previously buttered and floured for the purpose.
Charles Esme Francatelli: The Modern Cook (1896, first published 1846)
Jubilee Tea Cakes
Arguably the Heston Blumenthal of the Victorian age, Agnes Marshall, the creator of these Jubilee Tea Cakes, enjoyed flamboyant and innovative recipes. She published recipes for ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen, held a number of culinary patents and often sold the equipment called for in her recipes. True to form this recipe is slightly complicated and typically Victorian in appearance, but is worth the extra effort!
1oz caster cugar
3oz ground almonds
4 egg yolks, 2 egg whites
Few drops vanilla essence
Pistachios, blanched and shredded
For the tea glace: ¾lb icing sugar, 1½ tbsp strong tea and 1½ tbsp warm water. Mix together and warm, then use at once.
Stew cream, water, butter and caster sugar and let it come to the boil. Mix in the almonds and simmer for 5 minutes. Separately, mix egg yolks and vanilla essence and work well for 10 minutes, then stir in almond mixture gradually, and mix well for 5 minutes. Separately, whip the egg whites and salt until quite stiff, then mix into the egg yolk mixture. Lightly butter and paper a round fleur ring and dust it with caster sugar and flour mixed in equal quantities. Put a sheet of buttered paper on a baking tin, pour the mixture into the ring and bake for 25 minutes, or until cakes are pale brown. Cool on a wire rack, then when cool glaze with the tea glace. Before glace is set, sprinkle with pistachios and garnish the edge with desiccated coconut.
These cakes first appear in cookery books from the 18th century, but were popular throughout the Victorian age. They were usually baked in shaped tins, echoing the small pies of the period, and could then be arranged in geometrical designs. By the 19th century Queen Cake tins were sold, mainly in heart shapes. This recipe is interesting in that it calls for the cakes to be made in cups - adapting the uses of high end porcelain goods as fashions for these changed.
1lb butter, washed in rose water
Mix together the flour, sugar and currants. In a separate bowl, beat the butter well, then beat the egg yolks and whites separately, then add to the butter. Add the dry ingredients gradually, then beat for an hour. Grease little tins or tea cups and half fill with the batter. Sift a little fine sugar over before baking in a hot oven.
Maria Rundell: A New System of Domestic Cookery (1806)