Helping you to cook like it's 1829.

Author: Paul Couchman

What is Lunch with the Curator?

What is Lunch with the Curator?

It’s another way to experience The Regency Town House.  It’s a tour with a lunch.  Not just any tour, it’s a tour of the Upstairs and Downstairs life in an 1830s house.  Not just any lunch, it’s a lunch held in the basement kitchen of […]

How do you Dine Like A Servant?

How do you Dine Like A Servant?

There is a restoration project in Hove, UK where guests are invited to a fundraising dinner where they will Dine Like Servants. In February 2018 we were even featured in the local newspaper, the Argus. It’s at the Regency Town House in Brunswick Square, Hove. […]

How do you make Fanchonettes (and what are they?)

How do you make Fanchonettes (and what are they?)

Imagine a pastry case filled with almond and lemon custard, topped with meringue. That’s what these delicious tarts are.  They were made famous by the first celebrity chef Antonin Carême, who, cooked for the royalty of Europe in the early nineteenth century.  He even cooked an incredible feast for Brighton and Hove’s own Prince Regent at the Brighton Pavilion. Carême didn’t stay long in the Prince Regent’s kitchen.  It was said he found him vulgar and left Brighton to seek out better employers!

The name of these tarts could come from a small lace fichu worn as a head covering by women in the traditional costumes of some areas of France. Or it could be a cute form of the name Francoise. It may well be both!

These tarts were a real surprise for me.  They are similar to lemon meringue pie, of course.  I’ve tried a simple almond flavoured one but there are also fanchonettes flavoured with pistachio, coffee, vanilla and apricot jam.  The lucky volunteers and staff at the Town House will soon be very tired of eating fanchonettes as my plan is to create all of those flavours next week.

For the pastry:

  • 115g plain flour
  • 60g unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg

For the filling:

  • 25g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 80g sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 250ml milk

For the meringue topping:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 115g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 220c, 200 degrees fan, gas 7.

Make the pastry by adding the butter pieces to the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl.  Lightly with your finger tips rub the butter into the flour mix until it starts to resemble bread crumbs.  Add the egg with a fork and start to bring the mixture into a ball, finish this with your fingers, gently rolling the mixture against the side of the bowl. Wrap the pastry in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Take the pastry from the fridge.  Sprinkle your worktop with flour and roll out the pastry until thin.  Using a pastry cutter, cut out discs that will fit your tart tin.  I used a 12 hole tin but feel free to make larger tarts if you will. Fill each tart with a small piece of baking paper and beans, rice or ceramic beans.  Put into your pre-warmed oven and bake them for 9 minutes. Take them out the oven, remove the paper and beans, and put back for another 5 minutes. Take them out the oven. Leave to rest.

For the custard add butter, flour, sugar, ground almonds, lemon zest, egg yolks, egg and milk into a small pan.  Put the pan onto the heat and very gently, on a low heat, whisk until the mixture thickens.  This does take a while, keep watching and whisking.  The mixture will need to become quite thick.  Don’t stop too soon.

This custard can be poured into the pastry cases and then they are returned to the oven. They will set in about 15-20 minutes.

Now you can make the meringue.  Put the egg whites, sugar, salt and lemon juice into a bowl and whisk slowly to start.  Gradually increase the speed of the whisking.  The meringue needs to be light and fluffy.  You should be able to make stiff peaks in it.  Spoon the meringue into a piping bag with a small hole.

Remove the tarts from the oven when they are ready.  Pipe meringue over the custard, if you are in the mood pretty ‘pearls’ look amazing, otherwise simply cover the custard, right to the edges.

The tarts can now be returned to the oven for about 10 minutes, I like to leave the tops ever so slightly brown but this is really up to you.

The tarts can be eaten hot or cold but I prefer them cold.

There are many variations listed by Carême in his book French cookery: comprising L’art de la cuisine francaise, Le patissier royal, Le cuisinier parisien / by Antonin Carême, 1836. Translated by W. Hall 

I am busy planning a course in Regency Fancies for later this year (2018) and it seems almost certain that I will include Fanchonettes. They will also appear on the menu for the Regency Dancing Event which will take place on April 28th, 2018. A booking link is here.  If you would like to join me on a course please drop me an email or comment below.

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The Regency characters who will guide you through Regency Dancing steps on the 28th April at the Regency Town House.
Fennel Pickle and Pickled Grapes

Fennel Pickle and Pickled Grapes

The first thing visitor notice, as they enter the housekeeper’s room at 10 Brunswick Square are the cupboards.  Cupboards everywhere and all of them have locks. Locked away in the housekeeper’s room were many things that servants could steal and sell.  Porcelain, the finest table […]

Five compelling reasons why you should volunteer at the Regency Town House

Five compelling reasons why you should volunteer at the Regency Town House

Are you fascinated by food and history? But the combination is so quirky.  Where can you do both? It’s fun practising at home, by yourself, but you want to try out recipes with other people. You want the challenge of cooking for a large group […]

Explore the Regency Town House

Explore the Regency Town House

The location for Dine Like a Servant and Lunch with the Curator is a very special one. It is the Regency Town House in Hove.

This is the place you will come to as either a food guest or on one of my food courses.

To give you an idea of who I am. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Richard Vobes, aka The Bald Explorer, for his YouTube channel. In the future we hope to produce food demonstrations from the kitchen here.

How to make historic Hot Cross Buns

How to make historic Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Bun Course (25th, 26th and 28th March) We could have gone out to the shops and bought them.  But where is the fun in that? I think something I found online might help to explain. “Bought, they taste so dull. Modern commerce has […]

What is a peck of flour?

What is a peck of flour?

A peck.  A peck. What could it be? ‘You must take a quarter of a peck of fine flour…’ said Hannah Glasse in her 1805 book. At this point I was cold.  It’s a wintery day in Hove and the kitchen at the Regency Town […]

How to convert an historical recipe

How to convert an historical recipe

Historical recipes aren’t easy to decipher. You may struggle with strange terms, odd ingredients and confusing spelling.  Here are some tips to get you started.

What about all these F words?

It’s the f and s.

It really helps to remember to read the f as an s.  It can be odd, it can even look a little rude sometimes, but it’s that simple. Swap around the s and f and you won’t have any more difficulties. The reason why they wrote an f instead of an s? Well, it’s not f, but actually a long s. It was a different way of writing s. It was always pronounced as an s is pronounced; it was never pronounced as an f.

Strange Terms

Wet and moist sugar.  This really confused me.  To put it simply these terms have to do with the way sugar used to be transported.  It came as barrels of sugar molasses which were refined later.  Sugar is wet first, dark brown molasses sugar to you and me, moist next which is the light brown stuff or dry, refined white sugar.  It should be added that sugar used to come in cones too. My aim to recreate some for the Town House’s kitchen.

Confused Spelling

Spelling in English was not standardised until the 18th century. But even after then words were often spelt phonetically (as they sounded) and in local dialects. Vowel sounds in particular could be written in a variety of different ways. It all depended on how the writer said the word.

Cross bun recipe pt 1
Cross bun recipe pt 2
What is Dine Like a Servant at the Regency Town House?

What is Dine Like a Servant at the Regency Town House?

“I cannot praise tonight highly enough. It was absolutely fantastic. We had an amazing time. Simply glorious food and met some fabulous people too. In fact we decided we should say it was all terrible as we really don’t want to make it more popular […]