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Tea at the award winning Intercontinental, London

Award Winning tea at the  InterContinental, London, Park Lane

Today is our first Tuesday of Downton Downtime 2013, at least for those who have watched all episodes up to Season 3.  For the rest of you who have just discovered Downton, enjoy the ride and watch out for spoilers.

Each Tuesday I dish on Downton Abbey and other topical issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a recipe with an interesting history.  You may find my Online Guide to Afternoon Tea helpful in understanding traditions and recipes to help you host your own tea party with family and friends.

Today’s treat is Manchester Pudding, perfect for paying homage to Matthew’s hometown.

Downton Dish


Season 3 all summed up

Abbey Cooks Entertain: Because Food Provides Comfort


With 220 Downton era recipes, you will want to get this book for recipes for the famous Downton dishes from Season 1-3.  This 432 page ebook sells for only $7.95.  Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to keep bringing you new dishes each week.  You can only get a signed copy here on my site.  If you don’ have an eReader I would suggest the PDF version which can be printed if you like. 

Be THE Cook in Your Own Abbey


@SpringMFRGirl’s truffled egg on toast

While I am passionate about Downton Abbey, I get really excited when I can inspire others to get into the kitchen to cook real and healthy food, particularly those like Lady Sybil who have no skills, but are eager to learn.  Cooking is a labour of love and sharing that love is so important in building/maintaining relationships.

spunforewe's tea and scones

@spunforewe’s tea and scones

The Crawleys and servants shared most of their meals together.  It is a shame our busy lives prevent many of us from sitting down together to eat on a regular basis.  Keep sharing your pictures of Downton era foods and I will post here and thank you with a free download of my book.


Manchester Pudding

Manchester Pudding, a Victorian treat

Manchester Pudding, a Victorian treat.

This week I selected a tea treat in honor of Matthew and Isobel’s home town of Manchester.  If you are British you may recall Manchester tarts which were quite popular in the 1950s, a jam and custard tart with a coconut sprinkles and maraschino cherry on top.

The Manchester tart is based on manchester pudding from the Dowager’s era.  This particular version is one of the earliest published versions brought to us in 1861 by the young Mrs. Beeton, my  favorite domestic diva of the Victorian Era: Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. She taught a generation of middle class housewives, like Isobel, how to run an efficient home.


Makes 1 large 9″ tart or 12 muffin sized tarts


  • 1 – 1 1/2 sheets of puff pastry*
  • 1 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 strips of lemon peel
  • 4 eggs (4 yolks, save 2 whites for another use)
  • 3 tbsp. brandy
  • 2 tbsp. sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • 1/2 cup quality jam- Brits love damson, I used my strawberry-champagne
  • icing sugar, to dust


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Heat milk and lemon zest in a medium-sized pan to the boiling point.  Take off the heat and let sit for 30 minutes to infuse the lemon, then remove the zest.
  3. Add the breadcrumbs to the pot, and reheat.
  4. Beat together egg yolks, egg whites, butter, sugar and brandy in a bowl. Pour in about half the hot milk to temper. Mix thoroughly then pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Heat gently for 1 minute then take off the heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Place the puff pastry in a 9″ pie plate, and trim.  Alternatively roll pastry out a little thinner and cut 12 circles and fit into muffin tins.
  6. Put a thick layer of jam in the base (1 tsp. in your muffin cups) then ladle in the custard mix.  If you put in lots of jam you will get a nifty volcano effect at the end.
  7. Bake the large tart for 60 minutes, the individual tarts for 45 or until filling has set and is slightly browned.
  8. Serve cold, dusted with icing sugar.

*To cut the fat calories you can bake the pudding in individual greased ramekins without the pastry at all. To help the puddings set cooking, place your ramekins in pan filled with hot water.

The Original Receipt

You might be interested to see how a Victorian recipe was laid out.  Prior to Mrs. Beeton there was no separation of ingredients and method so you didn’t know what you needed until you read the whole “receipt”.  Mrs. Beeton not only included the yield, but when best to prepare the dish and cost.

Original Recipe 1300. INGREDIENTS — 3 oz. of grated bread, 1/2 pint of milk, a strip of lemon—peel, 4 eggs, 2 oz. of butter, sugar to taste, puff—paste, jam, 3 tablespoonfuls of brandy. Mode.–Flavour the milk with lemon—peel, by infusing it in the milk for 1/2 hour; then strain it on to the bread crumbs, and boil it for 2 or 3 minutes; add the eggs, leaving out the whites of 2, the butter, sugar, and brandy; stir all these ingredients well together; cover a pie—dish with puff—paste, and at the bottom put a thick layer of any kind of jam; pour the above mixture, cold, on the jam, and bake the pudding for an hour. Serve cold, with a little sifted sugar sprinkled over. Time.–1 hour. Average cost, 1s. Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons. Seasonable at any time.