The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

Recipes from the Land Between the Lakes

The Tale of Applebeck Orchard (#6)

The Tale of Applebeck Orchard (#6)
(click for pdf [printable] version)

These are the recipes that are included in The Tale of Applebeck Orchard (#6). Authentic Lake District foods are usually calorie-rich and based on locally grown meat, poultry, vegetables, garden-grown fruit and berries, and dairy. Mutton and lamb are favorite meats (cattle are mostly kept for their milk, rather than meat).

Mrs. Beeton's Best Soda Bread / Dimity Woodcock's Bramble Jelly /
The Professor's Grandmother's Ginger Beer Recipe / Parsley's Ginger and Treacle Pudding /
Mrs. Barrow's Cumberland Sausage, with Apple-Onion Sauce

Mrs. Beeton's Best Soda Bread
from Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861
soda bread
Photo: via Pinterest from

To every 2 lbs. of flour allow 1 teaspoonful of tartaric acid, 1 teaspoonful of salt, 1 teaspoonful of carbonate of soda, 2 breakfast-cupfuls of cold milk. Let the tartaric acid and salt be reduced to the finest possible powder; then mix them well with the flour. Dissolve the soda in the milk, and pour it several times from one basin to another, before adding it to the flour. Work the whole quickly into a light dough, divide it into 2 loaves, and put them into a well-heated oven immediately, and bake for an hour. Sour milk or buttermilk may be used, but then a little less acid will be needed.

Dimity Woodcock's Bramble Jelly

Beatrix once described the blackberry as "a kindly berry, it ripens in the rain." After she and Willie Heelis were married in 1913, they lived at Castle Cottage. In her book, A Tale of Beatrix Potter, Margaret Lane describes their dining room table, where "a law book and papers and deed-boxes" occupied one end, and "bramble jelly and toasted teacakes" the other. Perhaps the bramble jelly Miss Lane mentions was made from Dimity Woodcock's recipe. Bramble jelly is also used as a glaze for cheesecakes, pies, and flans, and as an accompaniment to mutton, pork, ham, duck, and goose.

2½ quarts blackberries
¾ cup water
3 cups sugar

To prepare juice:
Sort and wash the berries; remove any stems or caps. Put in a pan with the water, cover, and simmer gently for about 20-25 minutes, until soft. Place in a jelly bag and hang over a large bowl to strain out the juice.

To make jelly:
Measure 4 cups juice into a kettle. Add sugar and stir well. Boil over high heat to 110°C (220°F), or until mixture sheets from a spoon and jelly has reached the setting point. Remove from heat; skim off foam. Pour jelly immediately into hot containers and seal. Makes about 5 six-ounce glasses.

The Professor's Grandmother's Ginger Beer Recipe (an old recipe)

Ginger beer was brewed in England from the 1700s on. Its predecessor was mead, which dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. A honey beverage, it was naturally carbonated and yeast-fermented, often including ginger, cloves, and mace. In ginger beer, which was popular through the early 1900s, sugar replaced honey and fresh ginger root, with lemon, became the dominant flavor. This is an old recipe, designed to make 3 gallons of beer.

sugar, 2¼ pounds
cream of tartar, 1½ ounces
gingerroot, 1½ ounces
2 lemons
fresh brewer's yeast, 2 tablespoonfuls
water, 3 gallons

Bruise the ginger, and put into a large earthenware pan, with the sugar and cream of tartar; peel the lemons, squeeze out the juice, strain it, and add, with the peel, to the other ingredients; then pour over the water boiling hot. When it has stood until it is only just warm, add the yeast, stir the contents of the pan, cover with a cloth, and let it remain near the fire for 12 hours. Then skim off the yeast and pour the liquor off into another vessel, taking care not to shake it, so as to leave the sediment; bottle it immediately, cork it tightly; in 3 or 4 days it will be fit for use.

Parsley's Ginger and Treacle Pudding

Treacle is the word used in Britain for syrup made in the process of refining sugar cane. It can range from very light to very dark. The lighter syrup (produced from the first boiling of the sugar cane juice), is called light treacle or golden syrup. The second boiling produces a much darker syrup, which British cooks call treacle (or dark treacle) and Americans call molasses (or dark molasses). The third boiling produces what both British and Americans call blackstrap molasses, which is very dark, with a slightly bitter edge.

ginger treacle pudding

In this recipe, Parsley uses dark treacle (molasses). She also uses the shredded suet that is traditional for sweet and savory puddings and mincemeat. Suet has a high melting point that results in a light and smoothly textured pastry, whether baked or steamed. If you can't find this British specialty, freeze four ounces of butter and grate it, as a substitute for the suet.

¾ cup flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 heaping tsp ground ginger
1 1/3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
4 oz shredded suet or grated frozen butter
2 tblsp dark treacle
¼ cup milk
¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger

Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and ginger into a mixing bowl. Stir in the breadcrumbs and suet (or butter). In a small saucepan, warm the treacle until it liquefies, then add the milk. Pour into the dry ingredients, mixing well. Add the chopped ginger and mix again, adding a little more milk if necessary. Turn into a greased 1-quart pudding basin and cover with foil. Steam for 2-2½ hours, or until well-risen and firm. Serve hot with custard or cream.

Mrs. Barrow's Cumberland Sausage, with Apple-Onion Sauce
Tower Bank Arms
Tower Bank Arms, Near Sawrey

Traditional Cumberland sausages are heavily flavored with pepper, nutmeg, and mace. Each butcher had his own recipe, but all were made in continuous coils up to four feet long. Sausage is most easily made with a meat grinder (hand or electric) with a sausage stuffer attachment. Cumberland sausage, served to this day at the Tower Bank Arms in Near Sawrey, may be accompanied by an onion and apple sauce.

¼ cup stale breadcrumbs
½ cup hot water
1 lb pork shoulder, boned and ground
6 oz. fat pork, ground
4 strips bacon, ground
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp mace
sausage casings (ask your butcher or purchase online)

Add the hot water to the breadcrumbs and set aside. Mix the ground meats, salt, pepper, and spices. Add the bread crumb/water mixture and mix very well, using your hands. Fry a spoonful of the sausage and taste to adjust the seasoning. Rinse the salt from the sausage casing. Using the sausage stuffer, fill the sausage casings, prick in several places, and refrigerate overnight. Bake in a greased baking dish at 350°F. Turn after 20 minutes, and raise the heat to 375°F. Serve with warm Onion-Apple Sauce.

Onion-Apple Sauce:
2 tblsp olive oil
½ onion, chopped fine
1 lb apples (Granny Smith or another tart apple)
Clove garlic, crushed
2 tblsp water
2 tblsp apple cider vinegar
Bay leaf
Salt, pepper to taste

Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until golden brown. Peel, core, and chop apples. Add to the onion. Add water, vinegar, and bay leaf and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until soft. Remove bay leaf and puree sauce in a blender. Add salt, pepper to taste.

(click for pdf [printable] version)

Check out some other Cottage Tales recipes:
The Tale of Briar Bank (#5) / The Tale of Oak Cake Crag (#7)