It’s Jane Austen’s birthday today. She would have been, poor thing, 245 years old. But Jane was no poor thing. Her books are timeless.
Readers of my blog will know I joined the Jane Austen Society of North America this year, in part to keep at bay the awful news of each day.
JASNA encourages members to bake a cake for Jane’s birthday today. Now, though I love to bake, I won’t be doing that. Social distancing means I can’t really share a cake and yours truly and hubby don’t want to eat cake alone. However, in The British Museum Cookbook, one of my treasured volumes of recipes from the past, I found one for “Mrs. Raffald’s Chocolate Puffs.” These little meringue-like cookies are delicious.
Elizabeth Raffald was an extraordinary woman. Almost a generation older than Jane Austen, she was an entrepreneur as well as a chef. Born into the working class, she was first a maid, then housekeeper to an aristocratic family in Cheshire, England. After marriage to the estate’s head gardener, she and her husband moved to Manchester. Elizabeth opened an employment agency for domestic workers and ran a cookery school, selling high-end ready-prepared food from the premises.