Hello Fellow readers!
I am delighted to be welcoming Joana Starnes to my blog today, for another stop on the 'Mr Bennet's Dutiful Daughter' blog tour!
I was unaware of the subject of Joana's post and was pleasantly surprised to find it featured one of my favourite chapters in the book, dear Mrs Reynolds diary! (by the by, a book i heartily give a 5 heart ~ Mr Darcy rating!)
Now, let me not leave you in any more suspense and hand you over to Joana.
Thank you, Tamara, for ever so kindly welcoming me at My Kids Led Me Back to P&P on the blog tour for my latest book, Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter.
Mrs Gardiner’s Oatcakes on my visit to your lovely site.
The old housekeeper looked up from her papers at the sudden noise. She could not quite place it, but it sounded like an exclamation of some sort. From Mrs Darcy’s pastry-room. She was still there, then? Pen poised, Mrs Reynolds stopped to listen. But the room around the corner had grown suspiciously quiet. Perhaps she ought to check that Mrs Darcy was well – it was always better to be safe than sorry.
Sorry she was not, far from it, as soon as she rounded the corner to come across a highly unexpected but also highly gratifying sight. There was the Master, in a part of the house where he had not ventured for fifteen years or so; not since the days when he and his cousin were pilfering sweetmeats from the pantry. There was no question of pilfering now, the treats were willingly bestowed, and Mrs Reynolds very nearly chortled as she wondered what Mr Howard [the butler] would say to see their young master literally eating out of Mrs Darcy’s hand. The diverted smile grew warm and maternal and the housekeeper dropped her eyes, unwilling to intrude even unnoticed on the joyful and very private moment. So she made to turn away and leave the dear pair to their good cheer – he grinning widely, she likewise, her youthful cheek marked with specs of flour – but was not quick enough and chanced to catch a heart-warming glimpse of Mr Darcy abandoning the confectionery for the even sweeter treat of his wife’s kiss.
Mrs Reynolds quietly hastened on her way, yet she still heard her master chuckle, “I would not dream of saying so to your aunt when they visit, but your oatcakes are even better.”
Would you like to hear more about Mrs Gardiner’s oatcakes? Once again, it was Claudine’s wonderful idea that I include them in the blog tour and share the recipe with you. It’s based on a traditional Derbyshire one for Winster Wakes Cakes (“sweet wheatflour biscuits with egg and currants, associated with the annual Wakes holidays at Winster, near Matlock” www.foodsofengland.co.uk). Derbyshire oatcakes are sometimes savoury; they’re cooked as pancakes and served with bacon and eggs (Ann Wall, ‘Favourite Derbyshire Recipes’). But since it might have been a step too far to imagine the mistress of Pemberley flipping pancakes and frying bacon and eggs, I went for the more genteel option of Elizabeth baking sweet oatmeal biscuits.
I couldn’t in good conscience post a recipe without trying it first, and hey, I’m still here to tell the tale of baking Mrs Gardiner’s oatcakes. Would you like to try? It’s ever so simple. A bit messy and sticky halfway through, but quick and easy. Here are the ingredients again:
12.5 oz (350g) oatmeal or finely ground oats
3 oz (85g) butter
3 oz (85g) caster sugar
1.5 oz (40g) currants
1 pinch of cinnamon, if you’d like to make them a bit more Christmassy
The more finely-milled the oats, the less chewy the texture and less crumbly the oatcake. The milled oats I used looked like breadcrumbs. I could have used the more floury oatmeal, or just flour (white or wholemeal). If you’re using rolled oats the oatcakes will be really chewy. As for the butter, Mrs Gardiner might frown but surely a healthier spread would do.
So, what next?
Mix the oats or flour with the sugar and the softened butter, then stir in the currants, the beaten egg and the pinch of cinnamon. Mix everything till it forms a dough. If the dough is still too sticky add another sprinkling of oats or flour.
Roll it on a floured surface to a thickness of about 1/2 inch and cut into 2 inch- or 3 inch rounds. If you’re using a 3-inch cutter the above quantity makes 12 oatcakes.
Place the rounds on baking paper on a tray, reasonably well apart (they spread a bit) and bake for approx. 20 mins in a moderately hot oven (350ºF; 180ºC; Gas mark 4 in UK). You might have to use a spatula to get them off the baking paper and they're quite crumbly when hot, but if you let them cool down there's a good chance of getting them on a plate in one piece :D
So how about reading Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter with a glass of milk and a plate of oatcakes? (Although some recommend red wine and lots of chocolate ;) ). For a chance to read it for free, please leave a comment to enter the international giveaway of a Kindle copy. Thanks for stopping by to read the post and if you’re baking Mrs Gardiner’s oatcakes please let me know if you liked them :) All the best, and thanks again, Tamara, for having me as your guest today!
Thank you, for your wonderful post Joana and another wonderful book to add to my JAFF collection, as well as a recipe to add to the experience :)
Joana Starnes is kindly giving bloggers a chance to win an e-book copy of 'Mr Bennet's Dutiful Daughter' on each stop of the Blog Tour! How delightful!
For your chance to win leave a comment below and maybe tell Joana what you think of her efforts in the kitchen, could she possibly get a job below stairs, at Pemberley!
Winner to be announced on the 2nd December 2016.
Blog Tour ~
November 17/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway
November 18/ Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway
November 19/ Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 20/ A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt's Guide to Life/Guest Post & Giveaway
November 21/ Margie's Must Reads/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 22/ Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 23/ Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway
November 24/ Happy Thanksgiving
November 25/ So Little Time... So Much to Read/ Excerpt & Giveaway
November 26/ Just Jane 1813/Interview with Joana Starnes & Giveaway
November 2 / My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice/ Guest Post & Giveaway
November 28/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Vignette & Giveaway
December 1/ My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway
December 2/ Austenesque Reviews/ Excerpt & Giveaway
As always, it is a pleasure to hear your thoughts!