Between the fifth and twelfth editions of the Glasgow Cookery Book

So, what changes can be seen in later versions? 

Between the fifth edition in 1919, and the twelfth edition published in 1938, the invalid recipes in the GCB remained stable: the same number of them, and largely in the same order. This was a substantial amount of time to pass for the recipes to stay the same, although there were some minor changes in the ordering of the cookbook in this time.

A beautiful floral binding on a copy of the fourth or sixth edition of the GCB (c.1920)

In the eleventh edition, which is Book 9 in the Queen’s College collections, the Invalid Recipe chapter has been included under the heading ‘Artisan Cookery’. This use of the word ‘Artisan’ signifies a shift in the perception of invalid cookery. Rather than just appearing in a general category of cookery skills that any reader should know, by positioning invalid recipes in a section for ‘Artisan Cookery’ this separates it into a more specialist and traditional branch of cookery skills. ‘Artisan’ has connotations of skilled trade, craft, or traditional skills, and so this suggests that invalid cookery was increasingly perceived as a mode of knowledge that was held by people who were experts or particularly knowledgeable in the field of health. On the contrary, ‘artisan’ was also used to describe skills such as craftwork, baking, or non-mechanized methods of production, and so it may have carried connotations of old-fashioned outdatedness.

This organisation doesn’t last, however, as in the twelfth edition the invalid recipes are later in the cookbook (pp. 325-333 in the twelfth, as opposed to pages 104-112 in the eleventh) and there is no mention of ‘Artisan Cookery’. Indeed, even later editions show an increased engagement with invalid recipes, undermining the idea that they were falling out of use. 

The written notes around the invalid recipes in these cookbooks also show that they were being continually used and adapted by readers and college students.

Notes around the invalid recipes in these copies of the tenth edition (1933) and twelfth edition (1938) show that despite differences in the page layout, two students with two different copies of the cookbook have both added their own notes around the ‘Invalid Jelly’ recipe. One annotation provides a new recipe for ‘Milk Jelly’, while the other suggests adding ‘sugar gel water’ and fruit, presumably to make the jelly more palatable for the invalid.

As in earlier editions, there are also handwritten notes in these copies that show interesting personal insights into the way different readers used their GCBs. The slideshow below shows pages from the notes section of the twelfth edition, in which the owner has recorded numerous cake recipes.

These recipes show that the owner of this cookbook was a keen baker. The recipe for ‘Chocolate Fingers’ is credited to Mary McKirdy, teacher of cookery at the GWSCDS and niece of Margaret Black. This shows how recipes circulated around Glasgow because of the teachings and publications that came out of the college.

Perhaps more unusually, the recipes show that the cookbook’s owner made numerous cakes for other women’s weddings. Students often made wedding cakes as part of the curriculum. ‘Miss Allan’s cake’ is to be ‘two tiers with primroses’, while Miss Ludford’s cake had four cakes which had rum in them. The cookbook’s owner has also noted down the timings the cakes need to go in the oven, and diameters. They were clearly an experienced baker, with multiple commissions for wedding cakes, although it is unclear whether these were baked as a commercial venture or as favours for friends.

The recipe for ‘Soya Marzipan’ is interesting. Given the inclusion of eggs and marzipan in the recipe, the use of soya is not intended as a non-dairy or vegan dietary replacement as we may expect it to be used now. Instead, it was likely a war-time rationing replacement for the ground almonds that were usually used in marzipan. The twelfth edition was published in 1938, and there is a note beside the recipe for Miss Allan’s cake that reads ‘March 1952’, and so the cookbook’s owner was likely using this book throughout WWII. In Marguerite Patten’s selection of wartime recipes, We’ll Eat Again (1985), there is a recipe for soya marzipan that is similar to the handwritten one here: no ground almonds, but soya flour instead. This selection of handwritten wedding cake recipes therefore shows not only how the Glasgow Cookery Book was a highly adaptable and personable resource, used in many different ways by its owners, but also how ingredients and recipes shifted over time depending on societal conditions.

To return to how invalid recipes changed over later editions of the GCB, navigate through the later editions listed here.

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