Flummery: Eat Like Jane Austen With This Dessert

Have you ever wanted to sit down for dinner at Pemberley? Or wondered at what emerged from Emma’s picnic baskets? The works of Jane Austen are revered today - over two centuries after they were written - for their ability to take us deep into the heart of regency-era England, and give us a peek behind the curtain into the trials and tribulations of the landed gentry. Though perhaps it's not immediately evident, food does play quite a significant role in a lot of Austen’s work. All of her plots revolve around the mechanics of domestic life and mealtimes are often the backdrops to the most moving moments in her tales. The attitudes of her characters as well as toward food and housekeeping are also metaphors for their qualities with those being more obliging towards housework being painted as the more 'acceptable' by society. 

Her opinion of food actually has roots in Austen’s early life and in particular from her close friend Martha Lloyd. In 1806 – after the death of their father – Jane, her mother and her sister, Cassandra, set up a home with the spinster Martha in the hope that working together they could all make ends meet. While Jane was penning down novels, Martha would spend her time chronicling the family’s favourite recipes, gleaned from cookbooks of that era as well as hand-me-downs from family and friends. 

Jane took an interest in household work too and in a letter to her sister once said, “I always take care to provide such things as please my own appetite, which I consider as the chief merit in housekeeping,” But even though she enjoyed it, she favoured writing and allowed Martha to take the lead in the running of the house. Her compendium of household recipes gives us a unique insight into the life and world of Jane Austen and what daily life looked like in her day and is a cherished part of history, both for fans of Austen and for fans of food.

Try out a dessert that the Austen family might have loved below:


  • 1⁄2  cup/50 g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp natural rosewater (with no added alcohol)
  • A drop of natural almond extract
  • 1 1⁄4  cups/300 ml milk
  • 1 1⁄4 cups heavy (double) cream
  • 1–2 tbsp superfine (caster) sugar
  • 5 gelatin leaves


  • Put the gelatin in a bowl and cover with cold water; leave for 4–5 minutes.
  • Pour the milk, almonds, and sugar into a saucepan and heat slowly until just below boiling.
  • Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatin leaves and add them to the almond milk. 
  • Simmer for a few minutes, keeping it below boiling point. 
  • Let it cool a little and strain it through cheesecloth, or a very fine sieve
  • Whip the cream until thick, and then fold it into the tepid mixture. 
  • Wet your moulds put the flummery in and leave to stand in the fridge overnight
  • When set, unmould the pudding and top with fresh whipped cream or fruits.