Audley End House and Gardens: Brown bread ice cream revived by English Heritage as a summertime treat
Georgian favourite brown bread ice cream is being served up to visitors at Audley End House and Gardens to give them an historic taste of the past.
The stately home near Saffron Walden is one of 13 English Heritage sites across the country picked to showcase the unusual flavour as a summertime treat after the organisation teamed up with family ice cream maker Marshfield Farm.
The new soft scoop is inspired by the Georgian obsession with 'icy cream’, which included such bizarre flavours as cucumber, pineapple, jasmine, artichoke and even parmesan cheese.
Such was the demand for cold treats in the Georgian period that wealthy homeowners built ice houses on their estates – Audley End included.
Despite freezers not becoming a household staple until the 20th century, ice cream enjoyed a heyday in the 1700s.
A piece of equipment called a sorbetiere was used. Usually made of pewter, the vessel was nestled in a wooden bucket containing a mixture of ice and salt, with the ice cream mix then poured inside.
The technique of adding salt to the ice surrounding the sorbetiere enabled mixtures to be frozen solid. The salt creates an endothermic reaction that lowers the freezing temperature of water, making it colder. Once the ice-cream mixture was poured into the sorbetiere, it was agitated using a flat spoon, known as a spaddle.
The technology was surprisingly effective, actually freezing the mixture in a shorter amount of time than most contemporary ice cream machines.
After taste-testing a variety of weird and wonderful Georgian flavours, including marmalade and black tea, it was unanimously agreed that brown bread was the tastiest – with flavours reminiscent of biscotti or nougat.
Louise Cooling, curator at English Heritage, said: “The Georgians certainly had a taste for the unusual, and this summer English Heritage has decided to indulge in that fact.
“Although parmesan and cucumber (thankfully) didn’t make the cut for our Georgian ice cream, we hope our traditional, but new flavour will make visitors feel like they’ve stepped back in time when they enjoy a taste of our delicious concoction – though I imagine brown bread-flavoured ice cream might not be for everyone!”