#297 Raspberry Pie


The tale of this pie is of personal pain and anguish. Let me tell you the tale…

It was my work-buddy Chandra’s PhD thesis defence yesterday and she requested that I made this pie rather a cake for when she came out. Great stuff, thought I, any excuse to make something out of the book, plus the raspberry is my favourite fruit so it has got to be a winner. This pie is an eighteenth century pie and requires the fruit to be cooked in the pastry casing and then in the last five minutes, a custard to be poured in through the hole in the pastry. This was the usual way to make a fruity pie in those days, apparently. Anyway, Griggers says to serve it hot or warm, so I nipped back to my apartment to make it. I popped the pie into the oven and got the custard – or caudle as it was called then – ready.

Unfortunately the raspberries were so juicy that there was no room for any caudle, so I ran over the road and bought some straws from the shop with the inspired idea that I would suck the spare juice out. Hoping the pie had cooled slightly I attempted to suck some out – I think because time was becoming an issue I didn’t notice the fact that this was 170°C fruit syrup too much, but then as I realized just how much syrup there was, my nervous system kicked in. Cue much wincing and swearing. After about 15 minutes of this, I had finally cleared enough space to pour the caudle in. Mouth pretty sore, but not major damage done. Popped the pie back in the over for its final five minutes and rushed it back to Rice University. It was only whilst driving down towards work that I noticed the skin of the roof of mouth sloughing off and dangling upon my red raw tongue. She had better bloody like this pie. Luckily it went down well. On returning home later that evening, I rinsed my mouth out with Listerine before bed. More agony. Then, in the morning, I thought I would clean my tongue as well as my teeth as it was burnt and may have had some nasty bacteria there trying to infect the poor thing. Bad idea. I left for work with bleeding tongue. Hopefully it won’t go gangrenous and I won’t have to have my face removed.

To make the pie, you need to start with the pastry. In the eighteenth century, puff pastry will have been used, but Griggers goes for the sweet rich shortcrust and gives an ingredients list for it. Sieve 12 ounces of plain flour along with 2 tablespoons of icing sugar and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Next, add 8 ounces of cubed butter or a combination of butter and lard. Use a mixer or food processor, to rub the butter into the flour. If you like to keep it real, use your hands or one of those pastry cutters as I did. The important thing is to keep everything as cold as possible – use butter straight out of the fridge and turn that A/C as low as you can! Once the butter is rubbed in, add an egg yolk (keep the white) and two or three tablespoons of ice-cold water, enough to bring everything to a dough. Don’t worry if you add too much, you can add some more flour. Knead the dough briefly and then pop it in the fridge to rest and firm up again.

Preheat your oven to 190°C (425°F) and place a baking sheet on one of the shelves. Now roll out two-thirds of your dough and line your pie dish with it. If it is warm in the kitchen, roll it out on some cling film, this will stop it from breaking up. A top tip for you there. The dish needs to be 2 to 3 inches deep, Griggers doesn’t mention a diameter, but I went with an eight inch diameter one. Now arrange a pound of raspberries in a layer in the pie and sprinkle over 4 ounces of sugar (or less, if the raspberries are particularly sweet).

Roll out the remainder of the pastry to form a lid, gluing it on with a brushing of the reserved egg white. Trim the edges and decorate if you wish – I went with a mortar board motif, seeing as it was a PhD defence. Brush with more egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Make sure you leave a good-sized hole in the centre. Place in the oven on the hot baking tray and bake for 15 minutes before turning down the heat to 190°C (375°F). The point of the hot baking tray is so that the pastry bottom crisps up before the raspberries give up their juice, preventing a soggy pastry bottom to the pie. The pie should be cooked until the pastry is nicely browned and crisp, around 40 minutes.

Whilst it is cooking, prepare the caudle: bring 4 fluid ounces of single and 4 of double cream to a boil in a saucepan. As soon as boiling point is reached pour them over two egg yolks, whisking vigorously to prevent making scrambled eggs. In the final 5 minutes of cooking, take the pie out of the oven and slowly pour the caudle into the pie using a funnel and return to the oven so the caudle can thicken. Serve hot or warm. Oh, she makes it sound so easy. Looking back, it would have been better to pile the raspberries in the middle slightly so when it collapsed there would have been some space for the caudle. It was also suggested that instead of using a straw, I should have used a baster or a pipette or something. Retrospect is a wonderful thing.

#297 Raspberry Pie. Ah, the raspberry. There is nothing better than stumbling across some wild raspberries when walking in the woods. The pie itself was reminiscent of the French clafoutis, where fruit is cooked in custard in a pastry case, though without the lid. I love raspberries, I love custard and I love pastry, so this could not have been a disappointment. I have to say it was delicious, even though I my taste-buds were not working at their best at the time. The caudle had thickened up and mixed with the juice, and it wasn’t overly sweet either. Jane says that you can use any soft fruit for this pie – gooseberries work particularly well apparently – so I shall be definitely this again whenever there is a glut of soft fruits. Though without the second-degree burns this time. 8.5/10.

#291 Burnt Cream or Crème Brulée

Often considered a French dessert, Crème Brulée was thought to have come out if the kitchens of Trinity College, Cambridge via the sister of a librarian there, others think from an Undergraduate from Aberdeenshire in the 1860s. When the student graduated, so did the pudding and it became a favourite of the college. This is all nonsense because a recipe can be found in The Experienced English Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffauld which was published in 1769 (I have a facsimile of it). Grigson gives three recipes for it – the first, from the librarian who called it a Crème Brulée, the second and third – both dating earlier – called it Burnt Cream. Jane Grigson got a bee in her bonnet about whether the dessert had French or English origins. Where did Raffauld get her recipe from? It is a question that cannot answered, it seems, as the two nations’ cuisines are overlapped and interwoven so much since the Norman conquest of 1066. She did find a sixteenth century English manuscript with a recipe for burnt cream though, which was written around the time that Charles II came back to England after returning from exile in France.

I did this pudding whilst I was in England to go after the roast pork. I’d been wanting to do it for a while, as it is a pud I really enjoy, but mainly I just wanted to get the blowtorch out and melt the sugar. I’d never done it and it has always looked such a satisfying thing to do. None of the receipts ask for a blowtorch, but rather a very hot grill or ‘salamander’, as overhead grills were called in days of yore.

There are three recipes given by Jane, I went with the first, which was also her favourite, from a 1909 book called The Ocklye Cookery Book by Eleanor L. Jenkinson:

Place the yolks of six eggs in a bowl and bring a pint of double cream to the boil and let it boil for a full half-minute. Quickly whisk the hot cream into the eggs and return the mixture to the pan. Cook on the very low heat until the cream thickens somewhat – it should coat the back of your wooden spoon. I then sweetened it with a little sugar and added some extra flavor with some orange-flower water (lifted from Raffauld’s recipe). Don’t cook for too long or on too high a heat, as the eggs will scramble. If you think the eggs have scrambled, pass the whole lot through a sieve. Pour the custard into a shallow dish and let it chill in the fridge for as long as possible – overnight, if possible. If not possible (as it wasn’t for me), place it in the freezer as soon as it has cooled down to set. To burn the cream, scatter it with a thin, even layer of caster sugar and pop it under a very hot grill until it turn to a lovely melted caramel. Or use a blowtorch. Put it back in the fridge to harden.

For the sake of completion, here are the other two recipes:

From Domestic Cookery by a lady (Maria Rundell), 1848

Boil a pint of cream with a stick of cinnamon, and some lemon peel; take it off the fire, and pour it very slowly into the yolks of four eggs, stirring until half cold; sweeten, and take out the spice, etc.; pour it into the dish; when cold, strew white powdered sugar over, and brown it with a salamander.

From The Experienced English Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffauld, 1769

Boil a pint of cream with sugar, and a little lemon peel shred fine, then beat the yolks of six and whites of four eggs separately; when your cream is cooled, put in your eggs, with a spoonful of orange-flower water, and one of fine flour, set it over the fire, keep stirring it till it is thick, put it into a dish; when it is cold sift a quarter of a pound of sugar all over, hold a hot salamander over it till it is very brown, and looks like a glass plate put over your cream.

#291 Burnt Cream or Crème Brulée. ‘The best of all English puddings‘ says Griggers. Well I’m not sure of that, but it was pretty good. The cream tasted very light due to the heady perfume of the orange-flower water and the crackling caramel was satisfying to smash and delicious to eat. It wasn’t quite as thick as I expected to be. We all dug in with spoons, not bothering with bowls. I expect several of us now have herpes. Overall, a pretty good recipe – I think I will try it again with the lemon and cinnamon flavourings from the 1848 recipe. 6.5/10

#239 Rice Bread

Baking is the best form of procrastination because at least you have something to show for it other than a lack of what you should have been doing. I chose this bread simply because I had all the ingredients in. Although it is a rice-based bread, don’t be getting it confused with the awful rice cake I made last year. This recipe is another from Elizabeth David’s tome English Bread and Yeast Cookery, and was very popular with one Lady Llanover who said rice bread is the best for sandwiches. It has gone out of favour since the nineteenth century, let see if it worth bringing back…

First cook three ounces of long-grain rice in double its volume of water in a covered pan. Let it simmer and don’t take the lid off until all the water has been absorbed. Meanwhile, cream half an ounce of fresh yeast in a little water. The recipe calls for quite a lot of salt: between a half and three-quarters of an ounce of it! I measured a shy half an ounce. Dissolve the salt in a quarter pint of water from the kettle and add to it a further 8 fluid ounces of cold water. Place 18 ounces of strong plain flour in a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and add the creamed yeast and warm salty water. Mix to form a soft dough with your hands, adding more water of flour if appropriate. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place: you know the drill.


Knock back the risen dough and briefly knead, either by hand or with a dough hook, then place in a large greased bread tin that has a three to three-and-a-half pint capacity. Cover once more and allow to prove until it has risen up to the top of the tin. Place in an oven preheated to 230⁰C for 15 minutes and then lower the heat to 200⁰C for a further 15 minutes. Remove the loaf from the tin, invert it, and then place it back in the oven for a final five minutes so that the crust can crisp up.

#239 Rice Bread. A lovely pale, fluffy and slightly spongy bread that was indeed great for sandwiches. I polished most of it off with fried bacon and rocket with mayonnaise. Definitely the best of the plain breads so far, and definitely one of the easiest. I wouldn’t put more than a quarter of an ounce of salt in though as any more and it could have been horrid. 8/10

#230 English Rabbit (1747)

There was a few dregs of red wine left over the other morning after a few drinkies the previous evening, not something that regularly happens in my house, and this presented me with the opportunity to try this strange recipe. I’ve already done Welsh and Scottish rarebits/rabbits and now I can complete the set. The English rabbit (like the Scottish) was invented in response to the Welsh rabbit. Apparently, this is the best we as a nation could come up with (at least according to Hannah Glasse):

Toast a slice of bread brown on both sides, they lay it in a place before the fire, pour a glass of red wine over it, and let it soak the wine up; then cut some cheese very thin, and lay it very thick over the bread, and put it in a tin oven before the fire, and it will be toasted and brown’d presently. Serve it away hot.


I simply made some toast but it in a ovenproof dish, sprinkled some red wine over it, piled on the slivers of cheese and grilled it. I serve it with a wee salad dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

#230 English Rabbit (1747). This was without doubt the worst Grigson I have done so far. Even worse than the Mallards of Death and the rice cake. I actually thought I was going to be sick. The hot wine and soggy bread was bizarre. Adding salad really was just like polishing a turd, as we say in England. Absolutely disgusting 0/10.

#198 Compote of Bonchretien Pears

I’ve been rather busy of late and not had much time for cooking or blogging. Oh well, we all have fallow periods. It seems like ages ago that I did the dinner party that was just a couple of weeks ago and I’ve only just gotten round to telling you about the dessert.

I wanted to do something that I could make ahead and was seasonal too. This pear compote was the obvious choice. A nice clean tart fruit after all that cream and fried bread from the previous courses. I was concerned that I wasn’t going to find any Bonchrétien pears though – I’d never heard of them. I turns out the Bon Chrétien (which translate as ‘good Christian’) pears are a type of Williams pear, the most common of the pears.

This recipe is another from Hannah Glasse, a book called The Complete Confectioner, published in 1790 – there are no specific weights and cooking times really, which is a good thing as there is a huge variation in sweetness and folks’ tastes too. Do buy good pears for this though; don’t worry if they are under-ripe.

Peel, core and slice your pears. Plunge them into a pan half-full with boiling water that has been acidulated with lemon juice. Bring to the boil and simmer for two minutes before draining and returning to the pan. If your pears are particularly hard, they may need a little more time; if they are soft, I probably wouldn’t simmer them at all. Gently stew the fruit with some sugar to taste for a few minutes, either over the hob or in the oven. Make sure the pan is covered well. To add extra flavour and interest add some pared lemon peel or a split vanilla pod (I went with the latter). Once tender, remove from the heat, squeeze some orange juice over the pears and leave to cool, covered. Griggers or Glasse make no suggestions for accompaniments, so I went with vanilla ice cream.

#198 Compote of Bonchrétien Pears. I don’t cook with pears very often and this is first time I’ve made a compote from them. They were are very good end to a rich meal, and the vanilla made them extra-delicious. I think that we should all swap our apples for pears whenever we think about making a crumble or pie this autumn or winter. 8/10

#183 Scotch Rabbit/Rarebit (1749)

The second of the three rabbits/rarebits that appear in English Food (the third being English of course). After the appearance of Welsh rabbit in the early eighteenth century, and its subsequent popularity, meant that it diversified. Griggers finds this recipe in Hannah Glasse’s 1747 book Art of Cookery. Scotch rabbit seems much easier (and cheaper, natch) as the only ingredients are cheese, toast and butter. The recipe is in fact just lifted directly out of her book, so that is what I’ll do:

Toast a piece of bread nicely on both sides, butter it, cut a slice of cheese about as big as the bread, toast it on both sides, and lay it on the bread.

Easy? Let’s go through it again:
Toast a piece of bread nicely on both sides, butter it. Check.
…cut a slice of cheese about as big as the bread… Yep, good, done that.
…toast it on both sides… Say what now? How the hell are you meant to toast a piece of cheese on both sides!?

This is what I did: I cut the cut and laid it on a piece of buttered grease-proof paper in the hope it could grill it and turn it over. This was not the case as you can see by the photo!


#183 Scotch Rabbit (Rarebit) – 2/10. What a pathetic sight it was. The cheese just stuck to the paper and ended up a big mess. What I don’t understand is that normal good-old cheese on toast is better, tastier and above all easy to make. There is no wonder at all why the Scotch rabbit never took off.

#130 Boiled Wild Rabbit with Onion Sauce

Tis the end of the game season here in Old Blighty; though any game fans out there needn’t panic as rabbit is available all year round. This is due to the fact that they are evil vermin and should be ‘disappeared’. They were introduced by the Romans and by the Normans as farm animals, the little critters escaped and we were overrun. I am assuming they outcompeted the hares, causing their numbers to drop. So shoot away – even if you don’t want to eat them. You will be doing a service to the country.

FYI: Easter bunnies do not refer to rabbits, but hares, as it is they who display their ‘mad’ March behaviour. Rabbits are similar and much more common and so have been mis-named. If you spot anyone making this minor error, be annoying and pull them up on it and then do your best smug face to infuriate them further

Anyway, I’d never eaten wild rabbit and had had farmed only the once and totally cocked it up, but since I am loving the game thus far in English Food I knew I’d like this one. Only wild rabbit will do here, people, if you can’t get wild rabbit use duck instead. What also interested me was the huge amount of onions required for this recipe – it’s very rare that onions are used as a vegetable. It’s another Eighteenth Century dish. If you got your rabbit whole and intact, you should use the jaw bones and stick them in the rabbit’s eyes and fill its mouth with myrtle or barberries. Whatever they are.

Here goes…

For 4.

Truss your wild rabbit (or duck) with string, place it in a pan, cover with water, add a bouquet garni (I used parsley, bay, thyme, rosemary and some pared orange rind) and some salt and pepper then bring it to the boil and simmer ‘until done’. Having no frame of reference here, meant checking every now and again. Apparently, younger lithe rabbits cook quicker than old gnarly ones, so check every half an hour after the first hour is up. Once simmering, get to work on peeling 2 to 3 pounds of onions. Pop them in whole along with the rabbit after half an hour and take them out after another half an hour. Now chop them up – a boiled onion is a slippery customer, so be careful with them knife. Fry the onions in 4 ounces of butter until golden in colour, add 4 tablespoons of double cream and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Remove the cooked rabbit and let it rest for a little while and then cut up into serving pieces – two rear legs, two fore legs and the saddle cut into 3 pieces. Arrange on a serving dish and smother with the sauce. Serve with spinach and potatoes as instructed by Griggers herself (I did mash).


#130 Boiled Wild Rabbit with Onion Sauce – 5/10. Not sure if I liked this. It wasn’t vile, as I finished my meal, but wild rabbit has an unusual flavour that is pungent and slightly unappetising. Butters said it tasted like sewage. Weirdly, he wasn’t far away with that description. In fact reading ahead to other rabbit recipes, Griggers herself says that rabbit needs strong flavours to balance its ‘rank flavour.’ This begs the question: if I don’t like it, should I cook the other recipes? They all ask for wild rabbit, however, it is only this recipe that absolutely requires wild, so maybe I should try farmed next time. Not sure. Slightly disappointed that I dislike something – I pride myself in not being a fussy eater. Anyways, the onion sauce was lovely and rich and creamy – loved that. Perhaps using a duck would have been better all round.

#126 Kickshaws

As we are being constantly reminded of Global Recessions and Credit Crunches in the news, I thought it’s best to get as thrifty as possible and make some meals out of leftovers. I’ve managed to get two extra things out of the feast I made – one of which is a recipe from English Food, the other one of my own devising.

I made the Kickshaws from the leftover puff pastry trimmings. They are very easy to make – good one to make with kids if you’ve got any and don’t mind getting their filthy little paws in you food.

Roll out your puff pastry trimmings thinly and cut out circles of around 3 inches in diameter. Next, place a scant teaspoon of jelly or jam in the centre and use milk or beaten egg to make little parcels or turnovers; I used bramble jelly, quince jelly and apricot jam. Deep fry at around 160°C for a few minutes until the pastry has puffed up and golden brown. Sprinkle some sugar over them and eat warm. I poured some double cream over them that was also left over from big feast.

FYI: the name “Kickshaws” comes from an Anglicisation of the French quelque chose. I don’t know any French, but Griggers says it means “some odd thing or other”.

#126 Kickshaws – 8/10. Kickshaws go right back to Medieval times, though survived until the Eighteenth Century, though we don’t really make them now. We should definitely bring them back though as they are delicious. They are definitely being made every time there are trimmings to be used up!

#125 Whim-Wham

For dessert, Charmolian requested Whim-Wham. Not a proper dessert, but more a “tasty mouthful”. Here at Grigson Towers, we’re all about tasty mouthfuls. Plus it was an Eighteenth Century recipe so it fitted the bill. The other good thing about this dessert is that it can be knocked up in minutes… “Whim-Wham means something trifling, i.e. a trifle”. She goes on to say that it is also “delicious and not too heavy”. All boxes ticked there then.

For each person:
Start off by breaking a sponge finger into four pieces and laying it in the bottom of a small ramekin or cup. Next pour over a tablespoon of sherry or Muscatel dessert wine – I (or, rather, Charmolian) used sherry. On top of this dollop on 2 tablespoons of whipped cream. To decorate, add half a teaspoon of chopped roasted hazelnuts and something sweet – Griggers says some leaves cut from angelica or cumin comfits, but not – heaven forbid – glace cherries as they would be “out of style” (this is one of the few times that the book shows its age). The most difficult part of the whole meal was getting hold of angelica – I eventually got some in Tesco, if anybody is wondering. I have no idea what cumin comfits are, but they sound delicious – I may try and locate some…


FYI: Angelica has been cultivated since the Tenth Century as food and for its medicinal properties – it has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It has been noted also for its wonderful taste and aroma – compared to musk and juniper. I found that it was completely tasteless in its candied form. Hey-ho.

FYI2: It is called angelica because the Archangel Gabriel supposedly informed us of its uses. That was nice of him, wasn’t it?

#125 Whim-Wham – 3/10. Ms Grigson should be done for false advertising here – the phrases “tasty mouthful” and “not too heavy” are very much – in my opinion – fibs. They were so rich, alcoholic and massive. By the time dessert was brought out I was a little tipsy and for somehow manage to not only polish off mine, but also someone else’s. The next day, when I thought of them, I puked. Next time (as if there will be one), I’ll used Muscatel wine. Bleurgh…

#124 Celery with Cream

I commented earlier how nice it was to have leek tarts because the leek is so under-used as a vegetable in its own right. Well, another vegetable that fits into the same category is celery. Apparently celery was introduced in the Seventeenth Century, but was used first used as a cooked vegetable in the Eighteenth. It’s hard to imagine that bitter celery would be good on it’s own, but Griggers reckons it’s delicious. We shall see. This dish also completes my main course for the Eighteenth Century Feast.

Wash and trim 2 heads of celery and cut them into 3 inch lengths. Plunge them into boiling water for 10-15minutes until they are tender. Drain and return to the pan. Beat two egg yolks and ¼ pint of double cream together along with some seasoning. Stir this into the celery over a low heat until the sauce thickens. Serve straight away.


#124 Celery with Cream – 3.5/10. Not foul or inedible, just weird. That is the best I can sum this up as. I’m not sure that celery is palatable cooked this way – Braised celery, I know, is a good way to eat it as an individual vegetable, but not this one I’m afraid. I’ll stick to cauliflower cheese in future!