Friday, February 14, 2014

A Week in 1823, Day 5: Tea.

Today we have a final (for the time being) extract from the book that has been our source for the week - The footman's directory, and butler's remembrance, published in London in 1823.  The author takes us to tea – with the help of the Lady of the House – and it is a far less stressful event than the dinner we had yesterday.

If the lady makes tea in the drawing-room, which with small parties is generally the case, have the tea-tray well dusted, and the tea-cups and saucers put on, one for each, with a tea-spoon to each ; if there be coffee, a coffee-cup and saucer for each, with a spoon to each ; let the tea-cups and saucers be put on the near side, so as to face the person who makes the tea, with the tea-pot, cream-jug, and slop-basin on the off side ; and let the tea-caddy be put near ; if there be an urn-rug, do not forget it. If you have to wait at tea, that is, to hand it about to the company, you must have a small hand-waiter ; if there is not one proper for the purpose, use the one with which you hand the glasses about at dinner, as you do not require a large one.
When you take away the tea-things, always take the urn off the first, then put the tea-caddy into its proper place, and then remove the tea-things.
Always have a cloth in your pocket to wipe the table with, in case it should be slopped, or crumbs of bread, &c. left on, and properly adjust the candles, if there are any on the table. Perhaps you may have to carry the tea and coffee up stairs to the company ready-made; if so, you must be careful not to slop the tea over the cups into the saucers; see also that you do not forget the spoons, sugar-tongs, cream, or slop-basin; have a tea-pot on the tray with hot water in it, in case any of the ladies' tea should be too strong. Your tray ought to be pretty large, so that you can put the bread and butter, sugar-basin, or any thing else upon it; take care to arrange them so, that the ladies may take the cups with ease, and hold the tray low enough for that purpose; if it will not hold enough to go once round, you must serve it as far as it will go, and then get more. If you have not cups and saucers enough, you must wait in the room till the company have done with some of them. Be quick in taking up the tea when it is once poured out, that it may not get cold before the company have it, which is a subject of complaint almost to a proverb; you will easily know when they have done, by their putting the spoon in the tea-cup, or refusing it when you offer it to them. If there should be a fire in the room, look at it before you leave the room.

And now for some nice cake to have with our tea:

An Almond Cake.
Take a pound and a quarter of flour, make a hole in the middle, put in a piece of butter half the size of a hen's egg, four eggs well beaten, a quarter of a pound of sugar powdered fine, six ounces of almonds blanched and beat with orange-flower water, and a little salt. Mix -the whole well together, glaze it over with the yolk of egg, and bake it on a tin well buttered.
                           A modern system of domestic cookery … by M. Radcliffe (Manchester, 1823)

Almond Sponge Cake.
Pound in a mortar one pound of blanched Almonds quite fine, with the whites of three Eggs,—then put in one pound of sifted Loaf Sugar, some grated Lemon-peel, and the Yolks of fifteen Eggs,—work them well together ;—beat up to a solid froth the Whites of twelve Eggs, and stir them into the other ingredients with a quarter of a pound of sifted dry Flour :— prepare a mould as at (No. 67); put in the mixture, and bake it an hour in a slow oven :—take it carefully from the mould, and set it on a sieve

The Cook's Oracle…. by William Kitchiner (Second American edition, 1823)


Lapinbizarre said...

I suppose that an "urn rug" is a form of draped "cozy". Interesting. I own a late 18th c Sheffield plate urn, probably American, that has a removable, hollow insert, that probably once held an iron bar, that was heated in the fire and helped keep the contents of the urn hot.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Lapinbizarre. I am very intrigued by the idea of an urn rug, and am intending to do a little more research on them - and hopefully find a picture.

South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild said...

How interesting that some people wanted the butler or footman to carry the tea and coffee on a tray to the room, already poured out into cups ... and then complained that it was cold or had spilled! I can't imagine doing that successfully without doing the pouring at a table just outside the door to the drawing room! This is also interesting in that it is an example of ladies entertaining each other during the day with tea, bread-and-butter, and cakes, before the legendary "invention" of afternoon tea by the Duchess of Bedford during Queen Victoria's reign.

Bart said...

Dear Foodie,
I tested the almondcake recipe for my culinary history blog this week ( and, while I fully understand that your Dutch might not be 100%, I can say that they tasted wonderful! Quite scone-like in texture but with a distict marzipan afterflavor.
Thanks for so many years of posts, by the way!