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As Jane Austen as Martha and Apple Pie

Last summer, the Jane Austen Summer Program hosted its very first annual bake off. Our virtual format allowed our patrons to create wonderful goodies in the kitchen at their own homes while sharing in our various talks - including one on what it was like to cook in the Regency era. For many, cooking was a skill passed down from mothers to daughters. Both parties might not have been literate, especially for lower class families, so cookbooks were often more aspirational trophies for the wealthier classes. This makes it tricky for modern historians to say how exactly the average family might have eaten.

However we have a unique insight into what Jane Austen ate because of the cookbook used by her close friend Mary Lloyd. Her original book containing 141 recipes (many of which are repeats) is frequently on display at Chawton. Professional and home chefs alike may notice her recipes don’t always list all the steps in the way we might, leaving readers to wonder how exactly something was prepared. Therefore the recipes get adapted every time they appear in print. (This links to Amazon's Smiles program; if you use this link to purchase, a small portion will be donated to the Jane Austen Summer Program at no cost to you.)

We have adapted one such recipe ourselves from another publication: the Jane Austen Cookbook - just in time for Thanksgiving.

A is for Apple Pie by Greenaway, 1886, courtesy Wikicommons]


2 lbs. apples

Puff pastry (or pie pastry of your choice)

½ cup sugar, divided

½ cinnamon stick

½ lemon rind grated

1 tsp cloves

Egg wash for glazing

Butter or orange marmalade, optional


Preheat oven to 400 F

Skin, core, and slice apples

Boil skins and cores in ½ cup water until water tastes sweet

Strain out the skins and cores

Add ¼ cup sugar and ½ cinnamon stick to apple flavored water


Meanwhile, layout pastry in the dish

Add the apple slices

Sprinkle ¼ cup sugar, grated lemon rind, cloves and the sweet liquid

Cover pie as desired, glaze with egg wash

Bake pie for 35-40 minutes

As Martha wrote: “You may add some butter when cut, if eaten hot; or put quince marmalade, orange-pastel or cloves, to flavor.”

Be sure to tag us using #JanesApplePie if you share your finished apple pie on social media.


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