An Afternoon Tea With a Difference

Heritage & Culture Warwickshire decided to run an afternoon tea at Market Hall Museum, based on historic recipes held at the County Record Office. We asked the baker, Saffron Butcher of Caking and Baking, for her views as to how she found the whole experience of recreating the recipes in a modern world.

When Louise and Bronwen [of Heritage & Culture Warwickshire] first approached me with their idea of the heritage bakes I was excited and intrigued. Baking is my passion and being given the opportunity to try Mary Wise’s recipes from the mid 18th century was a dream come true. However I must admit when I saw the book, I was a little daunted!

The first challenge

The first challenge was the ingredients, some I have never heard of. Thankfully Bronwen and Louise had anticipated this and had some ideas, others were impossible to get so I had to improvise a little.

‘Sack’, ‘Citron’, ‘Manche’t, and ‘Curren’ to name a few.

Decoding the equipment and language

Next was the equipment. I have to say I’ve never used a hoop, pestle, chaffindish or cake glass before in my baking!

The third and I think my favourite challenge was the language. I absolutely loved reading the instructions, such gems as ‘put it to your jelly being warmed and stir it well till your sugar be well melted’ or ‘one hour and half be baked it, but don’t over, be sure.’

Certain words proved difficult such as ‘Sease’ and ‘Copped’.

Challenging timings

The baking temperature and timings proved interesting; how many degrees is ‘let them be well baked but must not your oven be too hot’ or ‘let it not offer to boil’ and just how long is ‘till they slip from the plate without.’

Without what? Who knows!

I think the most poignant thing was the time it would have taken to create these recipes. Simply mixing the batter, something I can do in my stand mixer in about ten minutes, was expected to take a minimum of two hours – can you imagine mixing a batter for two hours? ‘Beat all these together with your hot hand a large bowle the space of 2 hours’

I am really looking forward to trying more of the recipes for the next heritage afternoon tea.

Bronwen and Louise would like to thank Sharon and Ben for sourcing the recipes. Look out for the next heritage tea and if you’d like to book, check out 28th April on the Heritage & Culture Warwickshire events page.