Thursday, 14 August 2014

We Cannae Call Her Fanny - Irn Bru Jelly

Fanny Cradock wasn't her real name. She chose it, or maybe it chose her. Whichever way, it was a master stroke in ensuring that she was never forgotten. Would her career ever have taken off if she'd remained Phyllis Nan Sortain Pechey? It would be so easy to forget plain, pedestrian Phyllis wouldn't it? Fanny was born into a grandiose world where names were all important, but sadly wasn't given a memorable one herself. Her mother was Bijou (a name she hated 'Like some damned Pekingese') and her father had a variety of pseudonyms, most notably Valentine. So I guess choosing more elaborate and appropriate names was second nature. Fanny chose several. In various guises she was Frances Dale, Phyllis Cradock, Nan Sortain, Elsa Frances, Susan Leigh and even Philip Essex. Friends called her Phyl. Her brother insisted she was Phatti. Johnnie's pet name for her was Jill. She really had a different name for each occasion, and for each part of her very varied career. Fanny was the one that stuck.


Today, it's really a bit of a joke name, or, to some, even an insult to call someone a 'Fanny'. Fanny herself seemed to carry it off with style and grace, it's hard to imagine her as anything BUT Fanny. She WAS Fanny. I wonder if she'd laugh at the Irn Bru adverts which resulted in bottles appearing all over Scotland emblazoned with her name in direct response to the Coca-Cola 'personalised' version. The adverts had everyone talking about the name 'Fanny'. I think she'd find it a hoot. As long as people were talking about her, and she'd believe they were, she'd be delighted. That's what her name has given her, and I reckon she knew it would. It's almost impossible to mention the name Fanny without sniggering and without thinking of Mrs Cradock. Perfect.


Working in jelly allowed Fanny an opportunity to shine. Her aim was to bring a little of the Victorian splendour of enormous jelly structures to the modern dinner table, without the hours of work and the kitchen full of maids. For Fanny, it was an everyday dessert of suspended fruit, and she favoured mandarin segments seemingly floating in an orange cloud. For this one I'm substituting orange juice for Irn Bru. Well why not, they go together like Fanny and Johnnie.


To make the jelly vegetarian, I am again using an agar based powder. The difference with this to regular gelatine is that it needs to be added to cold liquids, dissolved and brought to the boil before leaving to set. There go all the lovely bubbles of fizz in the Bru...


No 1970's dessert would be complete without a tin of mandarin segments, and they are still easy enough to find in the supermarket. Adding some lovely fresh, in season Scottish raspberries for a splash of colour, taste and to add a flourish to the final presentation. I don't think Fanny would've, but maybe Jill or maybe even Frances might've.


So, the Irn Bru jelly liquid is boiled up and ready to go. Fanny says to dribble a little bit in the base of your wetted mould and then to start setting the fruit into it. When that layer is firm, lay another on top and cover again with jelly. And so on until your mould is full. See, no need for the kitchen maids, perfectly achievable in an ordinary domestic kitchen. The veggie jelly sets in around an hour and, with my fingers well and truly crossed, turns out well. It holds it's shape with a very welcome wibble and wobble. The finished jelly is a little cloudy, which I find happens with Agar, but the colour is vibrant and unmissable... Just like Fanny herself. So, stand back Phyllis, Frances, Nan, Elsa, Susan, Philip, Phyl, Phatti and Jill, this one is for Fanny and all the other Fannys out there. 

12 comments:

  1. Ha love it! Who'd of thought to make irn bru jelly! How did taste? I bet Fanny would've loved it!

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    1. It tastes good, just like Irn Bru but without the fizz :-( Thanks!

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  2. Irn Bru makes a vibrant looking jelly & I'm sure Fanny or is it Phyl ? would have approved.

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    1. She did love bright coloured cookery, and a bit of publicity, so... Thanks!

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  3. Fanny probably loved being on colour TV from 1968 onwards. Shame, it probably finished her off in viewers' minds by showing just how garish her creations were. Particularly those early colour cameras and their massive hue and saturation levels.

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    1. It was all very bright, but perfectly harmless food colouring too :-) Not sure what TV would make of someone like her today!

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  4. Well, she always insisted the colourings were "perfectly harmless vegetable dyes". Would people have thought she was using Prussian Blue or Scheele's Green or something back then?

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    1. The brighter the better! I've no idea why cakes were blue and potatoes green though... They just 'were' ;-)

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  5. I think Phyllis Pechey would have been a marvellous name for a cook. Sounds just as fruity as Fanny.

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    1. You are right! I guess it's how how say it!

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  6. Love it! Fanny would definitely have thought that Irn Bru were her biggest fans.

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