It's always a little frustrating when chefs dream up a delicious dessert using gelatine, as I never quite know how to switch it up to a vegetarian friendly version... What quantity of those funny slippery sheets of slime they use do you substitute for whichever vegetarian version you are lucky enough to find. There are gels, flakes and powders, but no slippery sheets. Fanny provides detailed charts showing how much gelatine to use for each type and quantity of any given liquid. Here's the good news, she's not a fan of slippery sheets and instead uses gelatine powder. Maybe this conversion malarkey won't be so tricky after all?
Fanny insists that we are all firm with ourselves over accuracy. We MUST measure out not only the powder but also the liquids, making sure we give our scales a good prodding before we do so to ensure they behave. I do like to measure things anyway, clearly I am teachers pet in the jelly class. She has not time whatsoever for those women who write to her to moan that there gelatine has sunk to the bottom of their dishes, or has clumped in lumps. Fanny gets down with the kids in her response and can only think of a one word reply... 'punk!' I am pretty sure her exact response may have rhymed with that but was unprintable in the 70's. Her method is to scatter gelatine powder onto the given quantities of cold liquid in the charts, heat and stir over a low flame and then add it to the bulk liquid. The instructions for the Agar powder I am using first (from Experichef) are more or less the same, except I add the powder to the total amount of liquid before heating. It's 1g of powder to 100ml of liquid. Fanny says this is 'POPPYCOCK' but in fairness I don't think she was really referring to Agar...
Fannys' first foray into the land of wibble wobble is entirely decorative. She wants to show us the wonders of jelly by helping us recreate a Victorian table centrepiece for a ball or supper, which of course would have always been homemade. I didn't really imagine they had packet jelly in those days anyway, but I think she's warning us not to dissolve some flavoured cubes from the supermarket here. Fanny says all I need to produce an quick and easy 'elaboration' is some fluted pastry cutters and a sharp knife. As long as I prepare my jelly moulds correctly that is. If my mixture if contains cream they should be oiled, if they don't they should be thoroughly wetted. I'm trying out a range of different moulds for this Victorian sensation, but no cream. Wet it is!
I am taking my inspiration from Fannys own illustration which shows a colourful plateful of cut jelly stacked high. I whip up a large batch of clear Agar jelly, just until the mixture boils, and decide to colour it in my moulds so I can get more variation. A muffin tin doubles up as a mould, as well as some individual baking trays, and of course some 'real' jelly moulds. They all take well to the gel colours (I like to use Wilton) mixed together with the ends of cocktail sticks) and set well while they cool. The cutters do their job and all there is to manage is the assembly. Fanny uses some pretty a Aspic cutters, and I have a modern day set of small shapes. I feel that I have well and truly eliminated the 'jelly bogey' and am ready to progress to a whole partwork of equally weird and wonderful 'set' creations! Are you ready to join me?