Recipes from Scotland 1680s to 1940s

Desserts and baking

Rules for the housekeeper

In the 18th century, young ladies were expected to be skilled in the domestic arts. They might be taught to cook and to keep house — but even moderately wealthy households employed both a cook and a housekeeper.

A housekeeper's duties varied depending on the household.

At Saltoun Hall in East Lothian, the Fletcher family set down their housekeeper's responsibilities and the extent of her authority in a small notebook.

Making desserts

Their housekeeper was to supervise staff both in the kitchen and the dairy. She was also expected to ensure that 'no wrong use be made of any of the Articles' and to personally make the desserts.

'Every day [she was] to see Dinner Dish'd and sent properly to Table — She is to make the jellies and Blamonges. Silabubs etc'.

The instructions end by stating that 'when anything doubtful occurs … which is not found in the aforesaid directions the housekeeper is to consult Mrs Fletcher thereupon and is not to give any heed to what the other servants say is the custom of the family'.

Handwritten bill for sugar supply

'Rules to be observed by the housekeeper at Saltoun Hall and instructions to her', undated. By permission of Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun. [Library reference: MS.17080, f.134]
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Desserts and baking