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Ice Cream

This new history of ice cream by food historian Ivan Day tells the whole story of ice cream in Britain, a story that has seen both its democratisation and a fall in the standards of its production and presentation. It is a story of fine cuisine, of entrepreneurship, and of food for fun. Illustrated with archive material and photographs of historic ice cream desserts made from original recipes especially for this book, this is a remarkable tale of an extraordinary and much-loved food.

The photograph opposite right is of a recreated 19th centtury basket of flowers Ivan made specially for the book - in lemon and other fruit water ices.

Lady Anne Fanshawe

The 'Mother of Ice Cream', Lady Anne Fanshawe, whose 1665 'Icy Cream' is the earliest known recipe for this favourite dish.

Beehive Ice Cream

Another amazing ice cream re-created by Ivan for the book, This time the main one is a beehive in saffron ice cream surrounded by various novelty garnishing ices.

William Fuller's ice cream machine and freezing table
A very rare image of William Fuller's 1856 ice cream machine being used on a freezing table, like the one belonging to Ivan in the photograph below.

freezing Table

Valvona's Ice Cream ships
The book is illustrated with some marvellous early advertising material, such as this Edwardian chromolithograph for wafer ships made by Valvona of Manchester.

Royal Upstairs Downstairs

Lion Television

BBC2 6.30pm

Monday 7 to Friday 11 March and for the three following weeks.

Just what goes on behind the scenes in a stately home when a monarch pays a visit? In this new series, antiques expert Tim Wonnacott and food connoisseur Rosemary Shrager revisit a number of the castles, palaces and stately homes that Queen Victoria visited throughout her lifetime, looking into the flurry of activity that surrounded each visit.

Tim is "upstairs", exploring the décor of the building and the lords, ladies and dignitaries that would have hosted the visit, as well as recounting extracts from Queen Victoria's own diaries. Meanwhile, "downstairs", Rosemary tells the story of the household staff and is taught by food historian and chef Ivan Day, each day how to recreate one of the ornate dishes that would have been served to the invited monarch.

Finding out which dishes were served to Victoria in the nineteen properties was not easy, as menus from only three have survived. However, household accounts, recipes published by chefs who worked for Victoria and even a painting of a buffet at Hatfield House yielded enough clues for Ivan to choose an authentic dish for each programme

Alexis Soyer's Grouse Salad

Alexis Soyer's Grouse Salad.

For instance, when Victoria visited Castle Howard in 1850, the celebrated French chef Alexis Soyer and his team cooked the food for a dinner and ball supper. With his usual entrepreneurial cheekiness, Soyer exploited the occasion to demonstrate his recently invented Magic Stove to the local gentry. Unfortunately, neither he nor the Howard family kept a record of the actual dishes served to the queen on the occasion. However, it was the height of the grouse shooting season and Soyer was famous for a grouse salad, for which he had won a prize in Paris. In fact, Soyer served this signature dish to Prince Albert at an important feast in York a few weeks later. It is highly probable that this, his most famous dish, also appeared on the Castle Howard menu.

Detail of Alexis soyer's salad

In addition to the tarragon and chervil used to garnish the salad, Ivan also added some spicy radish pods, a popular salad herb in Victorian England.

Asparagus in a curst

This nineteenth century steel engraving is the source for the asparagus dish opposite right, which Ivan prepared at Castle Howard. The area of Yorkshire around Castle Howard was once an important asparagus growing area.


Ivan shows how the asparagus was cooked in a copper preserving pan to enhance its colour and demonstrates how the pastry crust was made with the use of a wooden mould and a pastry jagger.

Many viewers have commented on Ivan's amazing pie, which he made in the episode filmed at Hatfield House. If you would like to learn how to make magnificent pies like those below, why not come on a Historic Food course and be taught by the master.

Raised Pie

Pie lid

Strasbourg Pie

Pie on plate

Christmas Pie

Ivan's Pie and Pastry Course is legendary! Click here for more details. Look out for his 2012 course dairy which will shortly be published on the Courses Page.



Ice Cream - A History

Basket of Flowers Ice

A new book by Ivan Day

Shire Books

Buy the book

Victorian Ice Cream Vendor in Italian village dress

Ice cream has been served in Britain since the seventeenth century. It has graced the tables of kings, and the cones of the working man; it has been plain, flavoured, moulded, sliced, squirted and scooped. It has made the fortunes of industrialists and put bread on the table of generations of Italian émigrés.

This richly illustrated book traces the history of frozen desserts in Britain from the time of Charles II to the late 1970s. It reveals a largely forgotten culture, especially in its early chapters and shows that the great British ice cream was frequently much more sophisticated in the first two and a half centuries of its existence than it is today. Among the many illustrations are new photographs of remarkable early ice creams made from original eighteenth and nineteenth century moulds. Frozen puddings in the form of courting doves, elephants, breaded hams – even ice cream Wellington boots and Landseer's lions moulded in sorbet frequently graced the tables of sophisticated Victorian diners.

The role of Italian immigrants in popularising ices amongst the poorer classes is usually described as a phenomenon which took place in the late nineteenth century, but is here traced back to a much earlier period. The godfather of all Italian ice cream vendors was the confectioner Domenico Negri, who was selling a large range of flavours from his shop in Berkeley Square as early as 1760. By the end of the nineteenth century the street cry "Gelato! Ecco un poco!" had been corrupted into "hokey-pokey!" By the time of Victoria's death, hokey-pokey had become a serving of ice cream pressed between two wafer biscuits, a much more hygienic alternative than licking it up from the ubiquitous penny lick. After each customer, these small glasses were hastily rinsed by the vendor before charging them with the next serving. It is not surprising that the poor hokey-pokey men were blamed for spreading cholera and typhoid.

After the Great War, the influence of American Soda Fountain culture and the factory-made ice cream became an important factor in popularising frozen refreshments. The ice cream vendor was now more likely to be selling his wares from a motor bike or van rather than a hand pushed cart and was in the payroll of a company like Walls, Lyons or Eldorado. The cry of "ecco un poco" was entirely replaced with the chimes of the ice cream van.

Illustrations include rare images of early ice cream making equipment, intricate pewter and copper moulds, chromolithographs of early ice cream confections, early advertising material and nostalgic images of ice cream parlours, handcarts, motor cycles and vans.

Paperback; February 2011; 64 pages; ISBN: 9780747808138

Royal Upstairs Downstairs TV Series

Currently broadcasting on BBC2 every weekday at 2.30pm - view on BBC iplayer

REVIEW: Royal Upstairs Downstairs is a worthy celebration of the UK's many wonderful county piles and I hope it is only the beginning of many similar shows to come, with or without the royal angle. The lovely Ivan could even have his own show where he recreates historic feasts, which would surely be a wonderful respite from the glut of same old cookery dross currently trotting across our screens on a weekly basis (excepting of course Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers). Reviewer: Kate Kearney

Rosemary Shrager, Jules Whomsley and Ivan Day

Left - Rosemary Shrager, centre - producer/director Jules Whomsley and right - Ivan on the set of Royal Upstairs Downstairs at Castle Howard. Photo by Laura Rawlinson.

In this new BBC2 series, Ivan shares his knowledge and skills with contemporary chef Rosemary Shrager, revealing the true secrets of high class Victorian kitchen practice. Ivan cooks in some of the grandest historic kitchens in the country, always using authentic equipment and methods. the aim being to prepare the food as was originally intended, not to adapt it to modern taste, which he feels is a terrible mistake. Served in the manner of the day, the results are a revelation, belying the usual assumption that Victorian food was overcooked, heavy and saturated with suet. Ivan demonstrates that even without electricity, freezers and other modern aids, the Victorian cooks who worked in upper class households could have given most modern Michilin starred chefs a real run for their money. This is Victorian food at its most sophisticated and aristocratic, a world away from the middle class domestic cookery of Isabella Beeton.

gouffe's Salmon a l Chambordmbord


Ivan recreated this complex and aristocratic dish of Salmon à la Chambord at Floors Castle on the River Tweed. The ermin-like structures are fillets of sole 'contised' with truffle. The garnitures on the hatelet skewers consist of freshwater crayfish and quenelles of whiting, again contised with truffle. Two chefs, Charles Elme Francatelli and Jules Gouffé, both associated with Victoria, published recipes for the dish. The remarkable chromolithograph of the dish is from Gouffé'sThe Royal Cookery Book (1868). Jules' brother Alphonse Gouffé was Victoria's pastry chef and translated Jules' book from French into English. Francatelli also published an image of the dish. Photo by Jason Trench.

Asparagus in a crust

In the wonderful kitchen at Harewood House, which Ivan has worked in many times, Ivan shows Rosemary how to make the beautiful asparagus in a crust.

Victorian Motto Shrortbread

Missing ingredient in Scottish shortbread recipe in Scone Palace episode of Royal Upstairs Downstairs.

Ivan has been overwhelmed with emails about this, because in their wisdom the editors of the programme edited the sequence where he lists the ingredients and yes, the butter quantity was removed! Ivan used nine ounces of butter in the recipe he made in the programme, but it was actually a mixture of five ounces of salted butter and four ounces of unsalted butter. Below he has put a modern version of the recipe with full ingredients. If you would like to see the original recipe from T. Percy Lewis and A. G. Bromley's The Book of Cakes (London: 1903) click on this link - original Victorian shortbread recipe.

Victorian Shortbread

Plain white flour 2lbs - 907 gms
Self raising flour 4 ozs - 110 gms
Ground rice 4 ozs - 110 gms
Castor sugar 10 ozs - 280 gms
Softened unsalted butter 8 ozs - 225 gms
Softened salted butter 10 ozs - 280 gms
1 medium egg

Heat the oven to 190C/375/Gas Mark 5.

Sift half the sugar with the flours and ground rice. Rub in the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture comes to the consistency of breadcrumbs and put in the remainder of the sugar and the egg. Amalgamate gently with the tips of the fingers. Blend the paste by smearing it very gently with the ball of your hand on a cold slab or worktop. Form into a ball, put it in a plastic bag and leave to rest for 2 hours in a cold place, but not a fridge. If you have a shortbread mould, dust it with a little ground rice, push in an appropriate amount of paste. Trim off the excess with a knife and drop the moulded shortbread on to a baking tray. Prick all over the centre with a fork. Bake for 15 - 30 minutes at 190C/375/Gas Mark 5 depending on size. Alternatively roll the paste out into an even slab about 1 cm thick and cut into finger shaped rectangles roughly 6 x 3 cm thick. Prick with a fork and bake on a baking tray for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Read Ivan's Blog - Food History Jotting - click here


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