Dainty Ladies from Edwardian Cooking

June 13, 2014
My favorite scenes from Downton Abbey are always in the kitchen or the dining room. These Dainty Ladies from Edwardian Cooking bring those scenes to life, allowing us to serve some foods of that time at our own (less fancy) tea times and dinner parties!
Dainty Ladies from Edwardian Cooking | fakefoodfree.com
Have you ever envisioned what it would be like to live during a different time in history?
As a kid I can remember being crazy about Little House on the Prairie. I really wanted to be that Laura Ingalls. At that point, food didn’t play a part in my fascination, but the rustic kitchen, farm life and fishing by the creek did. Despite the cold nights and TV drama, it looked like so much fun!
Given that little piece of my past and my love of travel you’d think I would have been a shoo-in for Downton Abbey. I was such a late blooming fan. I didn’t see the draw at all for the first two seasons. Then I watched my first episode and it all went down hill.
Hooked, binged watched and I’m anxiously awaiting what will happen next like everyone else.
I bet you can guess my favorite scenes. Yep, the kitchen. I love catching glimpses of what might have been prepared and served during that time.
It’s one reason why I’ve found Edwardian Cooking by Larry Edwards so interesting! Like the show, it’s a bit of fantasy meets history and it’s just plain fun!  
Even though Downton Abbey is fictional, similar scenarios existed during that time and the book goes into detail about the foods that were likely eaten. It is history lesson slash cookbook and provides 80 recipes inspired by Downton Abbey’s elegant meals so that you can recreate them.
I was drawn to the section devoted to High Tea recipes – the crumpets, finger sandwiches and cookies. I decided to make the one recipe that is direct opposite of my personality.
Dainty Ladies.
I’ve been described with many words, but dainty certainly isn’t one of them. Aside from giving me a giggle, the ingredients were right up my alley and I love the story about how ladies were reminded to remove their gloves to prevent getting butter stains. You can read about that below.
These little tea biscuits are just barely sweet. It reminds me of my favorite scones from Ireland. They are nothing like the scones here in the States. Just a touch of sugar and fruit make them sweet, just like a touch of sweetener and coconut takes the edge off the savory, buttery flavor of these little ladies. They have a nutty, shortbread-like taste and texture making them perfect for a tea or coffee break.
A note on ingredients. I had sweetened coconut on hand from another recipe so I used that. The recipe doesn’t clarify, but if you want them to be more of a cookie, I’d do the same. It adds just a little more sweetness.
Dainty Ladies from Edwardian Cooking | fakefoodfree.com

Dainty Ladies

(makes 32 small cookies)
From the book:
A staple of the drawing rooms and salons that served High Tea, these sweet sensations truly lived up to their feminine name. Served primarily to the female guests, Dainty Ladies are very buttery rich and have a wonderful texture, all of which was created to accentuate the taste of tea. When Dainty Ladies appeared on the table, the guests knew something special was about to happen. This is one of only a few dishes of the Edwardian era to feature coconut and the reason for this is rather simple. Obviously, you couldn’t grow coconut anywhere in Great Britain. It had to be imported at great cost. When (and if ) an abbey had coconut, it was locked up with only the butler of the house having the key. You might have noticed when watching Downton Abbey that quite often during High Tea or a social gathering featuring food, the women would wear white gloves. If Dainty Ladies were one of the featured sweets, the footman presenting the cookie would inform the guest and the guest would remove here right glove and with her thumb and forefinger, retrieve a cookie. The reason for this is the amount of butter used to make Dainty Ladies would soil the gloves.
Ingredients needed to make Dainty Ladies:


2 cups flour
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup rolled oats (oatmeal)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup butter
1 Tbs. corn syrup
2 Tbs. water
1 Tbs. vanilla
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper
or a silicon sheet.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut, rolled oats, baking soda, and
cream of tartar.
3. In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter into the corn syrup and water.
Once the butter has melted, stir in the vanilla.
4. Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until it is combined.
5. Let the dough sit 5 minutes for the oats to soak up the butter mixture.
6. Remove walnut-size portions of the mixture and roll into a ball.
7. Place the balls onto the prepared baking sheet.
8. Place into the oven and bake 12 minutes.

9. Remove from the oven and place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.

Disclosure: This book was provided for review purposes. I was not required to write about it and received no compensation for doing so. 

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  • dina June 16, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    they look like delightful tea cookies!

  • Lori June 23, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Hi, dina! They are delicious! I froze some and can’t seem to stop getting into the freezer. 🙂