50 Women Game-Changers in Food - #10 Hannah Glasse and Mrs. Beeton - Excellent Rolls and Shrewsbury Cakes

Hannah Glasse - Shrewsbury Cakes

Mrs. Beeton - Excellent Rolls

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This week, those of us who are working our way through the Gourmet Live list of the 50 Women Game-Changers in Food, had our most difficult challenge to date. Hannah Glasse and Mrs. Beeton, both of whom wrote popular cookbooks in 18th and 19th century England, share the spotlight. You'll better understand the difficulty the group faced as you read through the recipes here, and on the sites of the other participants. The exercise was really interesting, though not one I'd choose to repeat. Both these women deserve a spot on the Gourmet list for their efforts in developing recipes for homemakers in the burgeoning ranks of the Georgian and Victorian middle-classes. It would not be an over-statement to consider them to be the Martha Stewart of their respective times. Their historical importance, especially in Britain, can't be denied, but I do question their positional placement on the list here in the United States. As you might suspect, the recipes are archaic and don't work really well in today's kitchens. It is fascinating to browse through books like this, but they can be frustrating to work with. I'm including a bit of information about each woman and the recipes I used to produce the food in today's pictures. You should know that the Beeton recipe does not work as it is written. It took some colorful language and additional liquid to make the dough for her rolls. Both recipes are curiosities. If you have patience and like to step outside your comfort zone, you might enjoy giving them a try. I, however, promise nothing.

Hannah Glasse and Shrewsbury Cakes...courtesy of Celtnet Recipes

Hannah Glasse wrote The Art Of Cookery in 1794 to support herself after her marriage to a ne'er-do-well fell apart. It was one of the first simple recipe books for British homemakers and it was wildly successful. Unfortunately, the woman who was once described as queen of the dinner party, lost her fortune and spent the later years of her life in a debtor's prision. I've chosen to represent her work with her recipe for Shrewsbury Cakes. The cakes, as you can see, are actually cookies.

Original Recipe

Take two pounds of flour, a pound of ſugar finely ſearced, mix them together (take out a quarter of a pound to roll them in) take four eggs beat, four ſpoonfuls of cream, and two ſpoonfuls of roſe-water, beat them well together, and mix them with the flour into a paſte, roll them into thin cakes, and bake them in a quick oven.

Modern Redaction:

Ingredients: 900g plain flour 450g powdered sugar 4 eggs, beaten 4 tbsp cream 2 tbsp rose water.

Method: Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl. Remove 115g and set aside for dusting your work surfaces. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, cream and rose water. Gradually add the flour and sugar mix, beating thoroughly to combine. Bring the mixture together as a dough then turn out onto a work surface dusted with the reserved flour and sugar mix. Dust the top of the dough and your rolling pin then roll out about 3mm thick. Cut into rounds with a fluted pastry cutter and transfer to a lightly-greased baking tray. Prick the tops of the biscuits then transfer to an oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool before serving or storing.

Mrs. Beeton and Excellent Rolls...courtesy of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management

Isabella Beeton's Book of Household Management was published in 1861. She wrote the book in a four year period that began when she was 21 years old. The book is still in print today. She was married to a publisher and turned to cooking and writing following the death of her first child. She died of pueperal sepsis following the birth of her fourth child. She was 28 years old at the time. I chose a bread recipe to represent her work. As it turned out, it was a poor choice. It did not work as written.



For every lb. of flour allow 1 oz. of butter, 1/4 pint of milk, 1 large teaspoonful of yeast, a little salt.


Warm the butter in the milk, add to it the yeast and salt, and mix these ingredients well together. Put the flour into a pan, stir in the above ingredients, and let the dough rise, covered in a warm place. Knead it well, make it into rolls, let them rise again for a few minutes, and bake in a quick oven. Richer rolls may be made by adding 1 or 2 eggs and a larger proportion of butter, and their appearance improved by brushing the tops over with yolk of egg or a little milk.


1 lb. of flour, divided into 6 rolls, from 15 to 20 minutes.

The following bloggers are also paying tribute to Hannah Glasse and Mrs.Beeton. I hope you'll visit all of them.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast

Joanne - Eats Well With Others

Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed

Susan - The Spice Garden

Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey

Heather - girlichef

Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney

Jeanette - Healthy Living

April - Abby Sweets

Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud

Mary - One Perfect Bite

Kathleen -Bake Away with Me

Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen

Sue - The View from Great Island

Next week we will highlight the food and recipes of Patricia Wells, a personal favorite of mine. It will be really interesting to see what everyone comes up with. If you'd like to join us please email me for additional information. Everyone is welcome.