Great Britain

How to eat like a Bridgerton: Regency recipes from queen cakes to black cherry water

Netflix’s period drama Bridgerton served up some gloriously escapist lockdown viewing over Christmas.

With sumptuous costumes, opulent furnishings and some scandalous gossip thrown in for good measure, the series had all the ingredients of the perfect binge session.

It subsequently sparked a trend for “Regencycore” fashion and delivered us a new inanimate object to lust over, in the form of the Duke of Hastings’ spoon.

The drama of Bridgerton takes place amidst a backdrop of lavish dinners and dances. As the streaming service confirms that the show will return for a second series, we thought it high time we dipped that spoon into some of the show’s culinary offerings.

In the 19th century, dinner parties were the height of socialising, and were therefore often a long affair with many different dishes served in one sitting. According to the Jane Austen Centre, attendees could expect to be offered "soup, meat, game, pickles, jellies, vegetables, custards, puddings- anywhere from five to twenty-five dishes depending on the grandeur of the occasion”.

Inside ‘The New Universal and Complete Confectioner’

But despite wealthy families employing a whole host of servants to do the majority of the cooking, well-off women were still expected to know their way around a kitchen.

In Elizabeth Price’s cookbook, The New Universal and Complete Confectioner, which was published in 1800, she writes: “Every young lady ought to know both how to make all kind of confectionary and dress out a dessert.”

We tucked in to Price’s recipes to find out exactly what sort of dishes one might be whipping up in the 1800s, so we can finesse our skills in time for series two – or simply return for a second helping of series one.

Here’s how you can recreate some common dishes from the Regency period, should Lady Whistledown come for tea (not including a tonic used to cure “hysterical women” – yes, really).

Little Queen Cakes

These currant-filled treats were popular in England and America in the 18th and 19th centuries, and are similar to modern day fairy cakes.

3 tsp rose water  

450g currants  

Beat the butter with your hands until it turns thick and then slowly add the sugar and flour.

Finely grate the nutmegs and add to the batter, along with the egg yolks, sherry and rose water, and make sure to stir well.

Finally add the currents and divide into separate cases on a baking tray.

Make sure your oven has been pre-heated to a medium heat, and then bake for 15 minutes.

Kidney soup

According to True Politeness: A Handbook of Etiquette for Ladies, published in 1847, it was usual for dinner parties during the Regency period to “commence with soup, which [you] never refuse; if you do not eat, you can toy with it until it is followed by fish.

“Soup must be eaten from the side, not the point of the spoon; and in eating it, be careful not to make a noise, by strongly inhaling the breath: this habit is excessively vulgar; you cannot eat too quietly.”

More of a stew than a soup, this recipe was featured in The Bell Inn recipe book published during the 19th century.

2 carrots 

Remove all fat from the kidney, wash, dry and cut into slices, then cut up the beef into chunks.

Peel and chop potatoes, then bring to boil while lightly frying the kidney and beef in a separate pan.

Chop the turnips, carrots and celery and add to the mixture, before adding the meat and a touch of grated lemon peel.

Leave on a gentle heat for an hour before serving. 

Black cherry water

Ditch the sad mocktail-in-a-can for one of these delights

According to Elizabeth Price, this concoction is a refreshing non-alcoholic drink for adults and also makes “an excellent water for children”.

1 handful of sweet marjoram

1 handful marigold flowers

Take the cherries and bruise them softly, before adding to the rosemary tops, sweet marjoram, spearmint, angelica, balm and marigold flowers.

Chop the violets, aniseeds and sweet fennel seeds and then mix together and stir.

Distil in a cold still, then add three to four spoonfuls to a glass of water and serve.

To purchase Elizabeth Price’s recipe book and many more like it visit Shapero.com

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