Golden Age

comments: 62


I finally took the time to putter in the kitchen a couple of afternoons ago. The lovely Mrs. Brocket had sent me her new book back in July, and though I'd read it cover to cover almost immediately, I hadn't made time to cook from it. But Wednesday's clear, crisp, cold afternoon required me to pull out my lovely rippled pudding pot and get busy.


I know Jane would probably approve that the mauve-y luster of  my pot matches the delightful cover of her book, Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer: A Golden Treasury of Classic Treats. Cherry Cake is a collection of recipes for the old-fashioned treats featured in classic favorites from the golden age of British children's literature. It's the coolest book, and it is just so totally Jane.

As you probably know, Jane is a voracious reader and a champion baker (among her other many talents). I can totally picture her and daughter Phoebe (whose request to actually bake the macaroons she'd only read about in Enid Blyton inspired Jane to reserach and write this book) with a wooden spoon in one hand, and The Ragamuffin Mystery in the other, busy about the Cook's Special Sugar Biscuits. Organized in sections like "Off to a Good Start" (breakfasts before adventures), "Proper Elevenses" (for that little mid-morning sit-down), "School Food" (illicit supplements to dining-hall fare), and "Kind and Thoughtful Treats" (simple gestures for genuine and caring occasions), each recipe is introduced brilliantly, so that you not only understand its context within the book it comes from, but you now want to go to the library and get every single one of the children's books she references. (Which you can do, because Jane gives a comprehensive bibliography at the end of the book.) I love it.


I'd made some rice pudding for Jane in celebration of her first book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity (the U.S. edition of which is now available), so naturally I had to try her version of this Edwardian supper-staple, Creamy Rice Pud. I fudged my way through the conversions from grams to ounces because my computer was rebooting itself for the fourteenth time and I couldn't get to a conversion chart (but here's one if you need it, and if you're in the U.S. you will, since the book is a British edition, but that's what makes it fun). I grated some nutmeg and added a pile of cinnamon in one spot (as usual — that cinnamon always comes out in a pile). The pudding cooks for three hours, and during that time it will fill your house with the most mellow, golden, comforting smell in the world.


I ate mine for dinner in the glow of my little lamp (since by the time the pud' came out of the ove' it was way dark outside), and couldn't help but feel that, with ever so much wrong with the world, my little corner of it was, if only at that moment, quite all right.

Now to the library for The Railway Children and Heidi, which I've never read. And I promise I will redo my booklist next!


Mmmmmmmm....was all prepared to do banana bread....might need to make the rice puddin' instead.

Oh my goodness, thank you so much for sharing! I LOVE Enid Blyton and all "old" British children's literature (my mom's English, so I read a lot of it growing up) -- this cookbook is perfect, I love it!! I was often stumped by all the descriptions of food that I had never heard of -- I can't wait to share this with my mom!

That book sounds like a real gem! Thank you for sharing about it. :)

!!!!!You have never read Heidi!!!!

You are going to love it, Heidi (along with Charlotte's Web) kept me up many a nights reading. It was one of those books that I just could not put know the old "flashlight under the quilt so your parent's don't see you up so late" trick :)

My paperback copy of Charlotte's Web has long since disintigrated due to the immense love of a second grader who read it obsessively. I was more careful with Heidi. There are a few pages loose in it, but still all there. I am hoping this winter to start reading it a chapter at a time every night with my girls.

Now I'm in the mood for some warm rice pudding and Heidi...enjoy it!

yum! i love rice pudding. i like mine with or without raisins. i've found though that there are some serious 'no raisins in my pudding' people out there. my boyfriend being one of them, he prefers no raisins in rice pudding *or* in bread pudding. but he likes raisins...go figure.

Wow! I just got caught up with you after a week of not being able to spend much time at the computer. I LOVED your trip! It's like you were there a week instead of 4 days. Buchart Gardens and Craigdaorock Castle brought back memories of our trip there in the nineties. All of the bakeries and restaurants sounded so wonderful. Your description of the Castle bringing back memories of your 8-mile walk in London was a treat. And, now here you are making one of Jane Brockett's traditional English recipes. What a joy it is to read your blog.

Mmmm. It all looks very good. That book looks like a good one. I might have to give a try.

My goodness, I'm enamored with that pink dish. I think I need to start creating a pink kitchen!

It looks so good I wanted to just come to your house and eat it. I live alone but I might just have to make this for myself and not tell a soul.

Holy moly, I feel like she wrote this book just for me. I loved children's Brit lit as a kid and spent endless hours reading and wishing I could jump right into the pages and join the fun. In particular, I remember the kids in the Enid Blyton books would always pull out their tin of parafin to make boil water for tea no matter where they were. I am so paying the shipping costs to get a copy of this book. Thank you so much for writing about it.

Oh I just LUV rice pudding, especially in the colder months. Your pics make me want some BADLY!

Heidi and rice pudding are two of my most favourite things in this world. I've been reading Jane's book very slowly over the past few months. I pick it up, read a page, maybe two and just savour. I don't even peak ahead, each page is its own. I have really been enjoying it.

I think I want to come live in your kitchen--it always looks so deliciously cozy and warm! Thanks for the post about the book, because now it's going on my Christmas list. The rice pudding looks amazing.

I adore baking and all things British :) I had to study The Railway Children in college--an adorable book.

Thank you so much for sharing. I have made my list for my next trip to the book store. The rice pudding looks delicious, I swear when I was reading your description of how the smell fills your home... I could smell it hahah. I can' wait for your update book lists! You always have the most wonderful suggestions!
Have a wonderful day!

I've followed the development of that book on Jane's blog, and loved the idea from the first moment that she mentioned it. How fun to see the cover there.

The whole thing is just dreamy, and reminds me of what still happens to my mind when I'm reading a really absorbing story - that drifting in and out of reality, that wish to have something of the story-world in my physical hands.

Yummmm (the pudding and the book). Thanks for sharing!

Hi Alicia :)

I have been the webmistress of the Heidi by Johanna Spyri Website for Kids for ten years. I hope you can visit it as you read the book, for some supplemental fun. :)

(But the book is plenty good on its own without any Internet intrusions, either!)

What an incredibly clever idea for a cookbook! And now I know what to get a dear friend for her birthday.

Your photographs make me want to crawl through my computer and join you. All does, indeed, look right there!

I'm really looking forward to that book--I think with that title it deserves to be read in the original version. Heidi is a lovely book--I remember being really curious (but doubtful) about the taste of goats-milk, but craving the cheese-on-toast that her grandfather made for her.

I just pulled Heidi from my bookshelf and have just begun! I am so glad to hear Jane's book is now in the US! I tried to order it awhile back, but shipping...yeesh! Love Jane!

Hi Alicia,
You make the cookbook sound so cozy and inspiring - I think I'll add it to my Christmas List, too! I want to make the rice pudding because it looks delicious, but I fear that my three children will not like it (What is the matter with Mary Jane....It's lovely rice pudding for dinner again! - AA Milne). I need to eat a whole pot of it myself, while oh-so good and completely do-able, like I need a hole in my head!

Anyhow, you will love Heidi! I never read it as a child, but I've read two versions of it to my 6yr old daughter and we loved it! Oh, that terrible Miss Rottenmeier!

Laura in Naperville

Well that all brought back lots of lovely memories for me. I loved to read Enid Blyton as a child and I still have my old books (treasures!!) ... and rice pud on a cold night was always a favourite too.
Thank you :o)

Hi Alicia,

I am very excited about this book! I can't wait to read the books and make the food at the same time. I wan't much of a reader as a kid, so a lot of it is new to me.

Nice pictures. You almost make me want to eat rice pudding (which I am not fond of at all). :-)

OK, now I need to re-read Heidi... and find this book. I didn't know that Jane Brocket had another one. Also, I have a question about the sour-cream apple pie: we have all the ingredients IF it's OK to make it with reduced-fat sour cream. Any thoughts on that? Not non-fat, but reduced fat. But I had a feeling that, unlike ranch dip or something, this might be something that really does need to be made with full-fat sour cream. :) Anyway, any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you!! :)

Looks lovely and like a nice gift for xmas.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at