On Weeding & Writing - an occasional eclectic blog by author C.F. Dunn

Victorian Family Recipes From Christmas Past

Do you think that most families have favourite recipes that make an appearance, like Marley’s ghost, at Christmas? Recipes that have been tweaked down the years, but are basically the same as when first concocted way back beyond memory?

During our mammoth unpacking we came across family recipe books dating from the Victorian period and later. These books would be brought out on occassion to be raided for old favourite dishes, the preperation of which would be accompanied by stories of the women who wrote them. Some of the recipes – all hand written – had been passed from one generation to the next. Many originated as a result of trial and error in the kitchens of Georgian wives; a few predate even those.

Here, my husband’s great-grandmother, Ethel Chapman, aged 20, records a few favourite recipes in a little book dated 31st January, 1876.


Gingerbread – aunt B’s

Melt 1/2lb butter in 1 lb of treacle

then add one pound flour, 1oz ground

ginger, (1/2oz carroway (sic), 1/2 oz corriander seeds, a little nutmeg) (crossed out)

3 eggs & a teaspoonful of carbonate

of soda. Bake for 2 hours in a

well papered tin in an oven

almost cold at first, heating gradually.