Hello I'm Dr.
Annie Gray and together with English Heritage I'm here to show you a historic recipe that you could make at home.
Today we're talking teatime treats and I'm making something called Petit Fours à Thé – 'little biscuits for tea'.
They come from a book written by Jules Gouffé in 1867.
His brother was a man called Alphonse Gouffé and he was Queen Victoria's head pastry cook – her longest serving pastry cook.
These are the kind of biscuit that Queen Victoria herself would have enjoyed with a cup of tea, perhaps at her favorite holiday home – Osborne house on the Isle of Wight.
The recipe is very simple indeed.
Make sure your flour is well sieved.
in the past there may well have been bugs in it or bits of bran all sorts of things but today it's still quite useful because you want to aerate it.
Then, make a well in the centre.
Jules Gouffé calls this making a fountain which I've always thought is rather lovely.
Add in your caster sugar.
you then need to add a good pinch of salt that's as much as you can take between the two four fingers of your hand and your thumb.
Next you need some grated lemon zest.
and finally your egg yolk.
You don't need the entire egg yolk so give it a bit of a squiz and add about half to two-thirds of it depending on the size of your egg.
Then all you need to do is mix it up.
I'm using lemon zest to flavor these biscuits but there are various recipes in Gouffé's book so you could use something like lavender or vanilla or even ginger or mixed spice instead of the lemon.
It's worth getting your hands in there to really mix it up but try not to handle the dough too much in case you completely melt the butter.
What you really want to do is just bring it together a little bit like making shortcrust pastry.
This now needs to rest for about an hour.
The Gouffé brothers would have had access to a cold larder with shelves made out of marble or slate which would have kept things really quite chilly at least around eight to ten degrees.
However in a modern kitchen a fridge is rather more ideal.
Once your dough has chilled in the fridge for about an hour you can then roll it out.
Alphonse Gouffé would have had a separate pastry room.
At Windsor Castle, 'the pastry' as it was known was a whole separate brigade of chefs.
They had three or four rooms just to themselves It wasn't however like that that at Osborne house where the pastry really was just a marble shelf.
In fact an awful lot of things were sent across to Osborne from Windsor Castle so although Alphonse Gouffé probably did get to visit Osborne house a few times most of the time he would have been working at Windsor.
Being a professional recipe this is quite an exact one.
Apparently you are supposed to roll your dough out so it is six millimetres thick.
I'm using a tiny marble slab because I don't happen to have my own pastry room.
Next using whatever cutters you fancy you are going to cut out your little biscuits.
I'm using a leaf and a flower, a triangle and various playing card shapes.
Biscuit cutters like these were really, really popular in the Victorian era.
The Industrial Revolution had led to advances in metal production and so these were mass-produced meaning that almost anybody could now buy these and have their very own elegant tea tine biscuits.
Once you've cut out your pastry shapes just put them onto a baking tray lined with a piece of grease-proof paper.
You could also use a silicone baking mat in these slightly more modern world.
Next you need to glaze your biscuits.
To make your glaze you're going to take your reserved egg white and then the tiny bit of an egg yolk that you've got left over and just mix the two together.
A tiny pinch of salt.
then just brush the surface of your biscuits with a little bit of your egg wash.
These biscuits are very very easy to make.
they're the kind of thing that would have been churned out by the Royal kitchens.
The amount of mixture that I've got makes around 50 small biscuits but the original recipe is for four times that.
Next I'm going to decorate the tops of each one of these with something whether it is a raisin or a piece of peel or angelica it's important that they look delicate and beautiful.
Because they're so easy these are the kinds of biscuits that might also have been made by Queen Victoria's children.
She built them a Wendy house called the Swiss cottage at Osborne House and the children absolutely loved playing there.
It had a very small model kitchen and the children learnt to cook.
They even had their own vegetable patches outside.
It's very difficult to know exactly what the children did cook in their kitchen but this is the kind of thing that they may well have got to grips with and then served up for their mother and father at a kind of royal children's afternoon tea.
These now need to go into the oven.
They need a temperature of 180 degrees conventional – that's 170 fan, or around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
The original recipe calls for them to go into a brown paper oven because in the Victorian era there weren't really such things as Celsius dials on ovens and so the canny cook would work out how hot or cold their oven was by putting a piece of paper into it.
If it went black well that was too hot, if it went brown it was a brown paper oven, if it went yellow then it was a yellow paper oven, and so on and so forth.
They need about 15 minutes until they are golden brown on top.
When your biscuits have had 15 minutes in the oven lay them on a cooling rack or an upturned sieve just to cool completely and then you can display them.
Choose a pretty plate – after all, these biscuits do deserve it.
Queen Victoria was very, very fond of afternoon tea.
The Illustrated London News regularly published pictures of her finding tea at the side of the road accompanied by her personal attendants, the Indian servants or indeed her Scottish servants always clad in kilts.
She normally ate a bit too much at afternoon tea it must be said but then when your biscuits are as good as these I think I would too.
And there we go.
Petit Fours à Thé – biscuits fit for a queen.
Thank you for watching.
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Thank you again and goodbye.