A Victorian Christmas: Furmenty and Snapdragon

Fetching home the Christmas dinner cooked at the local bakers http://www.victorianlondon.org/food/bakers.gif

We have the Victorians to thank for many of our Christmas traditions but thank goodness some of them are not followed today.

For a recent Victorian themed Christmas party, each guest was asked to dress up and do a “turn”. Dressing up was no problem, we had fun discovering all the costumes a local dramatic group had to offer. But a “turn”? I was nervous about this bit. I wasn’t up to reciting a poem or god forbid singing, so something foodie would have to do.

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Let’s make winning sloe gin

A really delicious alcoholic drink that can be drunk neat or added to a cocktail, sloe gin is easy to make with fruits from the hedgerow

Make award winning sloe gin

Sloe gin is a gorgeous tipple. Drink a tot on its own or add to a cocktail. Simply delicious.

Its latin name is prunus spinosa which might give you a clue to its spiky nature. Do go armed with gloves! Look for the blackberry bushes and if you’re lucky you’ll find the sloe bushes also known as blackthorn. They can grow up to 6 or 7 metres high and live for 100 years! But the ones round here are much smaller. The fruits are mostly similar in size to a blueberry although I did find some woppers this year.

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Let’s reclaim jelly

Make jelly for yourself not the kids!

When I was little, I loved nothing more than chewing on jelly cubes usually red and made by Rowntree. They were almost as good as the “proper” jelly itself.

As I got older, I rarely ate jelly. It was only when Marks & Spencer introduced their pots of raspberry jelly and again I was hooked.

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Make mini berry rum babas

Mini berry babas served in ramekins

Clandestine Cake Club

She struggled into the packed room clutching a very large white box. “I don’t know what happened” she said. “I ended up making 3 cakes”. She opens the lid to reveal a beautiful towering cake which later proves to have no less than six layers.

A selection of cakes at Clandestine Cake Club Gloucester
Just some of the cakes at Clandestine Cake Club Gloucester

There are sixteen of us squeezed into a very pleasant room at the back of Peppers Cafe in Gloucester. We were given the theme last month, but the secret location was communicated by our organiser Julia,  just a few days before. This is the Clandestine Cake Club. Today there are 180 such local clubs not only in the United Kingdom but worldwide and as far away as New Zealand with more than 16,000 members. The clubs are the brainchild of Lynn Hill who around 5 years ago set up a secret cake club in her home town of Leeds.

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