Cookbook

Avis Crocombe was the cook at Audley End in the 1880s and English Heritage is fortunate to have her original notebook of recipes.

Our expert on historic cookery has taken these original recipes and made sure that all the ingredients are readily available today. Why not try and recreate a taste of Audley End in Victorian times?

Take a look at the original recipe book written by Avis Crocombe, Audley End's resident cook, and have a go at recreating a taste of Victorian England.

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Avis Crocombe's Cookbook

French Pancakes

  • ½ pint whipped cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 12 tbsp flour

Whip the cream until thick. Beat the eggs separately then add to the cream. Lightly whip the flour in to the mixture, then pour into 6 well-buttered saucers and bake for a few minutes. Have two together with jam in between.

Chocolate Pudding

  • 1/2lb plain chocolate (the better the chocolate, the better the pudding)
  • 5oz breadcrumbs
  • 1/2pt milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)
  • 5oz butter
  • 1/4lb caster sugar
  • 3 eggs

Melt the chocolate with the milk and butter in a saucepan over gentle heat. Add the breadcrumbs and simmer until thick. Put aside.

Make a custard by bringing the yolks and sugar to the boil, stirring all the time until thick. Add this to the chocolate.

Whip the whites until they form soft peaks and fold into the mixture. Pour into buttered pudding basins, cover the tops with greaseproof paper and foil (or a pudding cloth) and steam until they are hard to the touch (for a 1pt basin this will take about 45mns). Alternatively, you can bake them in a roasting tin filled with water.

Queen Drop Biscuits

  • 1/2lb butter
  • 1/2lb sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4lb flour
  • 1/2lb currants
  • A few drops of almond extract.

Cream the butter and add the sugar. Mix well, before adding the sifted flour and eggs.

Mix until light and fluffy and tip in the currants and almond extract. Using your hand or a tablespoon, drop equal quantities of the mixture onto a greased baking sheet. Don’t put them too close together as the mixture will settle and expand outwards – you’ll end up with a cross between a cookie and a cake.

Bake at 180°C for about 10mns or until firm to the touch and cool on a rack. This mixture makes about 24.

Ginger Beer

  • 10oz white sugar scant
  • 1/2oz ground ginger
  • Peel and juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 5 1/2 pts boiling water
  • Small piece of bread
  • 1 tsp of fresh yeast ( or dried yeast, make into a paste)

Put the sugar, ginger and lemon peel into a large, heat-proof container (you can use a bucket).

Pour on the boiling water and stir well. Leave until lukewarm, and then toast the bread.

Spread it with the yeast and pop it into the ginger mix along with the lemon juice. Stir briefly and leave overnight.

Strain several times through muslin and bottle. Leave for 4 days before drinking.

Cucumber Ice Cream

  • 1 Cucumber
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4oz sugar
  • 1/2 pint water
  • 2 small glasses of ginger wine
  • 1 pint double cream
  • Sugar (to taste)
  • Green food colouring

Peel and deseed a cucumber, salt lightly and drain in a colander. Rinse, put in a pan and add 4oz sugar and 1/2 pt water. Simmer until tender and then puree (the Victorians would have passed it through a sieve).

Allow to cool and add a small glass of ginger wine. Add 1pt double cream and sugar to taste.

Freeze in an ice cream maker, or use ice and salt packed around a freezing pot as Mrs Crocombe would have done.

You can also add a little green food colouring.

Although unusual to our modern tastes, cucumber was frequently cooked in the past, and this recipe is one of the best. It is refreshing and light, intended to lift the palette after a heavy meal.