A rare 161-year-old book of recipes owned by Beatrix Potter is set to go to auction on Thursday. Also for sale is a collection of books and ephemera from Potter’s husband William Hellis’s personal effects. The cookbook is full of Hellis’s family recipes, clearly handed down through generations, but there are several recipes that appear to be in Potter’s own hand. Richard Westwood-Brookes, a representative from the auction house, admitted that they “cannot conclusively prove” that it is in fact Potter’s handwriting but that it is very likely. Nonetheless, he says that the recipe book and the other items for sale “form an intriguing insight into the daily life of one of the world’s most loved children’s authors.” The items will be sold through Mullock’s Auction House. The recipe book has a guide price of £200-£400.
It seems rather odd that the auction house wouldn’t have an expert examine the book to determine more definitively whether or not some of the recipes were in fact written in Potter’s hand, but perhaps I’m overlooking something. Any insights?
The original article I read took care to note to that the cookbook did not include any recipes for rabbit. After the jump is a recipe form Gingerbread, taken from the cookbook. I haven’t tested it out, so if you do please let me know how it turns out!
3.5 lb wheat meal
3.5 lb treacle
12 oz. sugar
12 oz. butter
2 oz. ground ginger
1 oz. pounded allspice
1 pint of ale
1 oz. common washing soda**
Add 2/3 of the ale to the other ingredients and beat them well for some time, then dissolve 1oz. of common washing soda** in the rest of the ale and add it just before you put it into the oven. It requires a slow oven- let all the ingredients except the flour and soda be put before the fire to dissolve for an hour or two.
**Though the recipe calls for “common washing soda”, if you Google the term you will find that (today at least) it refers to homemade laudry detergent. I would skip the detergent and add baking soda instead.