Colin Firth and Jane Austen make a very fine match, but how would you like some cream scones with currants to go along with the duo? Now you can have your period drama, your book, and eat it too.
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The book-to-table reading experience from Puffin Plated is a new classics concept, bringing together two favorite pastimes: reading and eating. Both books – Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol – include the full, unabridged text of the classic, and are interspersed with recipes and special food artwork.
Below, we look at Puffin Plated’s just-released deluxe, full-color hardback editions of the novels that have inspired countless period dramas. We also share an easy-to-make recipe from each book.
What’s in each book?
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: Alongside Jane Austen’s original “Pride and Prejudice“ text, the new edition of the perennial classic features a selection of recipes by the one and only Martha Stewart. With recipes for sweet confections and pastries, it’s a perfect go-to whether you are planning a fancy tea party or book club gathering. You’ll find everything from maple glazed scones and delicate sugar and spice cake, to berry tartlets and French macaroons.
Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol: The new edition of the beloved Christmas classic features a selection of recipes for your holiday table from celebrity chefs Giada de Laurentiis, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, and Trisha Yearwood. You’ll want to cook these recipes year round, but you’ll also be able to plan a perfect Christmas feast with a carefully curated menu of holiday dishes inspired by the Dickens’ tale, right down to the smashed root vegetables. And of course, the full “A Christmas Carol” text is here too.
Who made the gorgeous Pemberley cookie?
The illustrations for “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice” – including the book cover – were crafted by New York-based pastry chef Amber Spiegel. Most of the cookies took her about 20 minutes to pipe with royal icing, but the Pemberley cookie and some of the other very detailed cookies in the book took several hours to complete – not including the time it took to make the dough, cut and bake cookies, make and color the icing, and fill all the icing bags!
Not to worry, you don’t have to have Spiegel’s expertise to make the recipes in the book, but if you want it, Amber creates cookie decorating video tutorials and travels the world to teach others how to make beautiful cookies on their own. She also has a book called Cookie Art that will help you make your cookies just that, works of art.
In addition to over 80 cookies, she also piped the royal icing flowers that you see scattered throughout the new Puffin Plated book. Amber told Willow and Thatch that she is #teamFirth, and loves the 1995 BBC television series. She had the period drama playing in the background while sketching her designs. Amber said that “the backdrops and costumes are so inspirational and really helped me to keep going when I had designer’s block.”
For its cover, Amber says she “used the royal icing transfer method to pipe the lettering on parchment paper.” When the letters were dry, she “carefully moved each piece onto an 8×11″ piece of fondant then added the brush embroidered edge. The brush embroidered flowers, piped roses, cameos, and gold frames were done separately so that they could be resized as needed to fit the page.” Amber made this time-lapse video of her decorating the cover.
Food artist Tisha Cherry was responsible for the made-from-food illustrations in “Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.” Cherry’s inspiration “often comes from the colors of the ingredients, along with textures and flavors” and she hopes people looking at her temporary works of art will “view ingredients differently and appreciate the magic of meal through preparation and cooking.”
How did the Puffin Plated series come about?
Eileen Kreit, Vice President and Publisher at Puffin told us:
Our designer’s original conception of Puffin Plated was actually much more visually inspired than recipe-related. She LOVES food—eating it, and looking at it as well—in beautiful photos and on social media, in food documentaries and reality baking shows. Food can tell us so much— the culture it’s from, the time period, the social class. The first idea was to create illustrations out of the food featured in these classic books.
When our team of editors got together and mentioned how much food is mentioned in “A Christmas Carol,” how you could practically create a cook-book dedicated to the story alone, we started to marry the two ideas together. Penguin Random House luckily publishes a lot of phenomenal cookbook authors, so the idea to partner up with a few of them only seemed natural.
In the end, it was really a huge collaborative project that all of us helped create and we couldn’t be happier with the final product. We are always looking for ways to expand the reading experience and Puffin Plated encourages you to bring your friends and family together with a good meal and a good book!
What are the recipes like?
Here’s a sample Martha Stewart recipe for scones from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Yes, please! How very British.
Cream Scones with Currants
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon cold heavy cream
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup dried currants
Sanding sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, whisk together ¾ cup cream and the egg. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.
With a pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Stir in currants. With a fork, stir in cream mixture until just combined. (The dough should be crumbly; do not overwork.)
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat into a 4-by-6-inch rectangle. With a bench scraper or a sharp knife, cut into 6 (2-inch) squares and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with remaining tablespoon cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired. Bake until golden, rotating sheet halfway through, 16 to 18 minutes.
“Cream Scones with Currants” from Martha Stewart’s Newlywed Kitchen: Recipes for Weeknight Dinners and Easy, Casual Gatherings by Editors of Martha Stewart Living, copyright © 2017 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.
Recipe used by permission of Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. Published in this edition by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018
And here’s a sample Martha Stewart Recipe for biscuits from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Please pass the butter. Or jam. Better yet, pass me both, thank you.
Makes 1 Dozen
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450°F. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Work in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in buttermilk with your hands until just combined.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7-inch disk about 1 inch thick. Cut out 12 rounds with a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, gathering and patting out scraps as necessary.
Arrange rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until cooked through and golden brown, rotating sheet hallway through, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.
“Martha’s Buttermilk Biscuits” from Martha’s American Food: A Celebration of Our Nation’s Most Treasured Dishes, from Coast to Coast by Martha Stewart, copyright © 2012 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.
The above recipe used by permission of Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. Published in this edition by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018.
Ready to get cooking?
Puffin Plated’s “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice” is available here.
Puffin Plated’s “Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol” is available here.
The giveaway associated with this article has ended. The winner was Christy S.
If you are looking for that perfect something for yourself or another period drama fan, we hope you’ll shop Willow and Thatch’s Jane Austen Period Drama Adaptations merchandise, click on our links (like these that take you to Etsy and Amazon) and make purchases on those sites, and buy period-inspired products from our Lovely Things Shop.
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll want to wander over to The Period Films List to discover new TV series and movies to watch, all sorted by era. You’ll especially like the Best Period Dramas: Christmas List. Also see The Man Who Invented Christmas Review, Hallmark’s Austen Inspired Christmas, 10 Victorian Family Christmas Movies, Hallmark’s A Christmas Memory and A BBC Charles Dickensian Christmas.