In Grandmother Gell's Kitchen

Mince Pies the eighteenth century way

Visitors to Newark Castle's Robin Hood Day were appalled to hear how Christmas mince pies traditionally contained calves' tongue, and one family, hearing about a cure for toothache, thought drinking your own urine was too high a price to pay.   These recipes and more are collected in a book by Carol Barstow, called "In Grandmother Gell's Kitchen".   To obtain your own copy of this fascinating book, click here.

Here's an eighteenth century recipe for mince pies from the book: 

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'In Grandmother Gell's Kitchen' page

To make minc'd pyes

Take 2 Tongues the same weight in Beef Suit 4 pound of Currans and 2 of Raisins, half an Ounce of Nutmeggs, a quarter of an Ounce of Mace, half a quarter of an ounce of Cloves and Cinnamen and D° of Lemon Peel, Wine, Brandy and Sugar to your taste. The bigness of the Tongues must be considered when you put in the above nam'd Spices Etc.


And here's Carol Barstow's modernised version (still with the traditional meat ingredient, though, so veggies beware!):

6 oz 150g cooked sliced tongue                
Grated rind of one lemon
6 oz 150g suet                                         
6 oz 150g currants
3 oz 75g raisins                                                               
2 tbsp 30ml brandy
4 oz l00g dark brown sugar
2 tsp 10ml nutmeg, grated                                                         
1 tsp 5ml mace, ground
½ tsp 2.5ml each of cloves and cinnamon, ground

Cut the sliced tongue into small pieces and mix all the ingredients together. Line a round 8inch 20cm pie dish with shortcrust pastry and fill and cover. Bake at Gas Mark 6 400°F 200°C for 30 - 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Carol writes, "One of two recipes in the collection for minc'd pyes, these or something very similar would have been eaten at each of the meals in the menu plans. It works well when served with mulled wine as something that is neither savoury or sweet."

Photo:Carol Barstow as Grandmother Gell

Carol Barstow as Grandmother Gell

Tim Warner

Newark Castle held a Robin Hood day in the summer of 2010.  One of the invited guests was Carol Barstow, Librarian at the Bromley House Library in Nottingham.  She came in her guise as Grandmother Gell, promoting recipes from her recently published NCC book ‘In Grandmother Gell’s Kitchen’.   For more information on this and other Nottinghamshire County Council Local History Publications, click here

Carol gave running cookery demonstrations of period breads, puddings and biscuits which attracted many people to the library’s stall.



This page was added by Alice Cave on 06/12/2010.

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