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Jelly, Flummery and Creams

Jellies and other gelatine based foods like aspics are not very fashionable today. They seem artificial and usually take a great deal of time to prepare. In the past however, jellies and creams were often the crowning glories of the table. Many of the images of the dishes on this page are interactive. When clicked on, some photographs will lead you to another page with more information about the dish and its method of preparation.

Robert May's scallop shell jelly 1660

Robert May in his Accomplisht Cook (London: 1660) tells us to mould jellies in scallops and other kinds of sea shells.

Spanish Pap or Steeple Cream

A rosewater flavoured Spanish Pap or Steeple Cream, moulded from leach in a wine glass and garnished with pinenuts. This was a popular dish in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some recipes supplemented the isinglass with ivory shavings for a firm set.

Ribbon Jelly and Jaunmange in glasses

A salver of eighteenth century jelly glasses filled with ribbon jelly and jaunmange in the centre. This was the most common way of serving jellies in the eighteenth century. Jaunmange was a flummery coloured yellow with egg yolks.

Hartshorn

A restorative jelly was once made from shavings of the soft velvet antlers of young male deer (harts). This material was processed by hanging the antlers up to dry, removing the skin and grating them. The resolting hartshorn was once an important grocer's item. Opposite is a seventeenth recipe for hartshorn jelly, which was more of a medicinal preparation rather than a food item.

Charles Carter's Ribband Jelly 1730

Ribbon, or ribband jelly was made in slabs of coloured squares as in the above recreation of Charles Carter's recipe below (The Complete Practical Cook, London:1730).

Recipe for Ribband Jelly

Ribband Jelly Recipe

Salt glazed stoneware mould c.1750

 

Cribbage Cards in Flummery

Georgian housewives also made bird's eggs out of flummery and served them in lemon peel nests encased in domes of crystal clear jelly.Even cribbage cards were made out of flummery.

Solomon's Temple Mould

Wedgewood Solomon's Temple mould in cream ware c.1780.

Eighteenth century flummery mould

By the middle of the eighteenth century, leach became known as flummery or blancmange. It was often moulded in wooden moulds like that above.

Click to find out more

A flummery 'printed' in an eighteenth century wooden mould. Flummery was originally a jelly made by steeping oatmeal in water overnight and boiling the strained liquor with sugar. It was also known in some northern parts of England as sowens. By the eighteenth century flummery had became a synonym for blancmange, an almond cream of continental origin.

Flummery mould

Flummery moulds have a little turned foot which functions as a useful handle when turning the flummery out. The moulds (usually made from water-sesistant sycamore) were soaked in water before the flummery was poured in, to allow easy de-moulding.

Wedgewood obelisk

A wedge shaped core for a jjelly mould

Fish pond of flummery fish

Mrs Raffald's fishpond

Flummery fish were gilded and were floated on a dish of thin lemon jelly or sweet wine.Or embedded in a dome of jelly to make a "fish pond."

Wedgewood Pineapple

A pineapple flummery moulded in an eighteenth century Wedgewood cream ware mould. The detail on these early English ceramic moulds is remarkable and the level of craftsmanship has never been bettered. Perhaps the basket of fruit in flummery below, made from a c. 1780 Wedgewood cream ware mould. is one of the most beautiful ever made. This is truly extraordinary Georgian dessert food.

flummery basket

Bunch of grapes flummery c.1790

This flummery was made from a 1790s Staffordshire cream ware mould. The leaves are coloured with spinach green, the grapes with blackcurrent juice. Unlike the much more vertical moulds of the Victorian period, these early moulded dishes are very low.

Click the Alexandra Cross to find out more about this remarkable jelly

This decorative jelly mould is an Alexandra Cross, designed to commemorate the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1853. Pass your cursor over the mould to see the jelly. Click the jelly to find out more.

When cut into slices with a hot wet knife, the jelly reveals the Danish flag. (Photo - courtesy Robin Weir)

Click the Belgrave Jelly to see more

An even more spectacular jelly was made with a Belgrave mould, a castellated mould with a complicated liner that allowed the turrets to be filled with decorative spirals of cream. (Photo - courtesy Robin Weir)

Table ornaments in the form of obelisks were popular from the Renaissance onwards. These were made from ice, sugar paste, ice cream, but also from jelly. In the eighteenth century Wedgewood made obelisk moulds with decorative ceramic 'cores' which were cast inside a thin layer of transparent jelly. The cores were usually painted in enamels with flowers. The obelisk above was made in a nineteenth ceramic century mould by Minton. It contains real garden flowers.

Champagne jelly

This unusual gothic mould was used to create a champagne jelly with a steeple-like effect. Pass your cursor over the mould to see the jelly. Click to find out more.

 

Click to see a larger image

A popular motif for the Victorian table was this patriotic British lion. Click the mould to see more.

Ballettes of Foie gras

Above: Agnes Marshall's Balletes de foie gras à la Impeiale, an intricate Victorian savoury jelly. Below: Marshall's Swans à la luxette

Click the swans to find out more

Listen to Ivan making Jellies with Jenni Murray and Claire Bassano on Woman's Hour

If you enjoyed the jelly feature on Woman's Hour you might like to listen to Ivan discussing the history of Jelly in a lot more detail on the Eatfeed podcast

Gilded leach - click the image to find out more about leach

A gilded leche or leach. This rosewater flavoured jelly was served at Henry VIII's garter feast at Windsor in 1520 , appearing in both the first and second course. It continued to be a favourite dish at other Garter feasts until the seventeenth century. Leach was closely related to 'ribband jelly', a jelly moulded in multi-coloured layers, also popular in the early modern period..
A White Leach

Take a quart of new milke, and three ounces weight of Isinglasse, halfe a pound of beaten suger, and stirre them together, and let boile halfe a quarter of an hower till it be thicke, stirring them all the while: then straine it with three spoonfuls of Rosewater, then put it into a platter and let it coole, and cut it into squares. Lay it fair in dishes, and lay golde upon it.

From Thomas Dawson The Good Huswives Jewell (London: 1596)

William Rabisha's Set Tart 1673

A set tart of jelly from William Rabisha, The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected, (London:1661). This dish is made with custard pastry, a hard pastry with no shortening, used also for making "set" or shaped custards. The compartments are filled with coloured jellies and leach.
To make Harts-horn Jelly

Take the Brawn of six Cocks, being steept in Water, and shifted for 24 hours, then take a quarter of a Pound of Harts-horn, and boil these together two hours, then strain the Broath out into a Pipkin, and let it be cold, then take off the top and bottom. Return your clear Jelly into a clean Pipkin, and season it as your Chrystal Jelly before; only adding thereto a little quantity of Chainny; if it be too strong, add some Rhenish Wine, if too weak a small quantity of Ising-glass: You may put herein Majesty of Pearl, or if you please, Corral; after which set it on the Fire again for a quarter of an hour, more or less, according to the strength or weakness of your Jelly; then clarifie it with whites of Eggs, and run it throuhg your Bags as aforesaid, and preserve it in a Glass or Pipkin for your use; this Jelly is a great Cordial, very Restringent and strengthening to the back. It may be taken cold, or else dissolved, being heat again, and so drank.

From William Rabisha, The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected, (London:1661).

Flummery eggs and bacon

Flummery eggs and bacon. A number of eighteenth century cookery authors give recipes for this dish. In this version, the eggs and bacon are sitting on a bed of green jelly which is meant to represent chopped spinach.

SUN FLUMMERY

A jaunmange made with a sun mould.

RAFFALD'S MOON AND STARS FLUMMERY 1769

MOON AND STAR  REAMWARE MOULDS

Jellies with astronomical subjects were popular in the eighteenth century. Among this collection of creamware moulds is a sun and a man in the moon for making the Moon and Stars in Jelly from Mrs Raffald's 1769 recipe. She tells us "to colour your flummery with cochineal and chocolate to make it look like the sky."

Mrs Raffald's Solomon's Temple

Recipes for Solomon's Temples in Flummery first appeared in Mrs Raffald's cookery book of 1769. The dish required a mould that had recently been manufactured in salt glazed stoneware by Thomas and John Wedgewood at the Big House, Burslem in Staffordshire in the 1750s and 60s. These usually had a central obelisk surrounded by four towers in the form of cones (see opposite left), but later designs in cream ware often have a dome as in the Solomon's Temple below. Mrs Raffald's recipe instructs us to fill the base of the mould with chocolate flummery and to decorate the points with flowers and sprigs. In the following century, the young Princess Victoria was so entranced with this recipe that she copied it into her own private journal.

Solomon's Temple in Flummery

Flummery

Flummery made in an eighteenth century wooden mould.

Flummery fish before gilding

Flummery fish made in mid-eighteenth century Staffordshire salt-glazed stoneware moulds

1790s Neale and Sons Core Jelly

Two part creamware core moulds were made by Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potteries in the late eighteenth century. A clear jelly was moulded around a ceramic "core", often in the form of an obelisk decorated with hand-painted motifs, though other shapes like cones and wedges were also popular. That above was made by Neale and Co in about 1790. These extraordinary moulds are usually only seen in museum displays and you will never see them used, so the photograph above is an extremely rare image of an ornamental core actually sheafed in its coating of jelly. We make them regularly from original examples on our Jellies and Moulded Foods Course.. The outer mould and the core are pictured below. Below left are two late eighteenth century cores made by Wedgwood. The outer moulds are both missing. These eccentric, but exquisite jellies were used as table centrepieces in the late Georgian dessert.

Core and outer mould

 

Although, some very decorative jellies and creams were produced in earlier centuries, the apogee of the jelly was the nineteenth century. The spectacular Victorian variation on ribband jelly illustrated above, was known as 'Russian Jelly' or panachee jelly. It has been made here in a nineteenth century succès mould. To obtain the opacue effect, the jelly was whipped to a froth before being poured one layer afte the other into the mould. Each layer had to set, before the next was poured in.
Russian Jelly Gelée à la Russe

Take one quart of Lemon Jelly, and when cool add two wineglasses of Kirsch liqueur or syrup and one wineglass of brandy; divide it into three portions, colour one with liquid carmine, one with a very little sap green and leave the remaining part plain; whip these seperately till frothy throughout, and when nearly set pour them into any fancy mould that is resting in a little ice in alternate layers, and leave it on ice till ready to serve; then dip the mould into warm water, turn out on a dish-paper, and serve for a fancy sweet for dinner, luncheon, &c.

From A. B. Marshall, Larger Cookery Book of Extra Recipes (London: nd 1880s)

Click the pineapple cream to see the mould

A panachee jelly topped by a pineapple cream- click to see the mould.

Belgrave mould, liner and jelly

A Belgrave mould, liner and the jelly they create with its internal spiral columns.

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Click to see more

The chromolithograph above, from Theodore Garrett's Encyclopaedia of Practical Cookery, illustrates fruit flavoured jelly bombes on a bed of crystallized fruit. Spherical jellies and creams were very fashionable between 1860 and the First World War. They were made in little two part moulds called ballette or bombe moulds. These were made from copper and were frequently tinned inside and out. They were also made in the shape of eggs. They have a miniature funnel at the top for pouring in the jelly or cream mixture. After de-moulding the little cone of jelly was removed with a sharp knife.

Click to see more

Click the ballette mould to find out more

Cick to see the mould

Jellies containing fruit were particularly popular in the nineteenth century. This champagne jelly is is also from Theodore Garrett's book The Encyclopaedia of Practical Cookery.

Jely Ypocras Recipe

De-moulding jellies and creams

Removing jellies and creams from moulds can be difficult, especially those with a great deal of detail. Ceramic moulds in particular can be very awkward. From the eighteenth century onwards, professional cooks brushed the inside of the mould with a little 'sweet oil' (almond oil), turning the mould upside down on a plate to allow the excess to drain away. They also embedded the moulds in bowls of crushed ice to speed up setting. By leaving the moulds in the ice for a few minutes before pouring in the jelly, the almond oil congealed on the inner surface of the mould preventing it from floating to the top of the liquid jelly. When the jelly was completely set, the mould was dipped in hot water - just a few seconds for copper and tin, up to thirty seconds or more for ceramic moulds. The wet mould was then wiped dry and a plate put on top. The mould was then inverted and lifted and if everything went well, the jelly came out. This was very straightforward with copper moulds, but sometimes a finger had to be gently inserted between jelly and mould to allow the air to dispel the vacuum. Some skilled cooks demoulded the jelly directly on to their hand, rapidly conveying it to the centre of the dish. The dish was usually wetted with a little water to enable the jelly to be slid gently into the middle.

Jelly moulds were actually used for a variety of purposes. As well as being used for making jellies, creams, bavaroises and other cold puddings, they were utilised for steaming puddings, baking cakes and also for poaching both savoury and sweet dishes. Some were used for making ices, but these normally were equipped with a tight fitting lid and a screw to allow for easy demoulding.

Savoury jellies were just as popular as sweet jellies and the high-class cookery books of the nineteenth century are full of artistic dishes based on aspic, like Agnes Marshall's balletes de foie gras à la Imperiale and the swans à la luxette illustrated on the left. These dishes were very time consuming and testify to an age when middle and upper-class kitchens were often generously staffed and well-equipped with specialist moulds. Though they are visually delightful, the excessive use of gelatine and purees in this dishes makes them unattractive to most modern palettes. Mrs Marshall's recipes were aimed at young housewives married to professional men, who though probably well-off, could not afford the extensive kitchen staff found in the great houses. Gelatine-based dishes had a great attraction, as they could be prepared the day before a dinner party, freeing up time on the day itself for cooking the other items of the meal. Her two cookery books are full of recipes which require moulds, which the enterprising lady offered for sale at her premises in Mortimer St. For more on Victorian savoury jellies and gelatine based entrées, click on the Marshall illustrations in the left column.

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