A Devon Recipe Adventure

The recipes below come from Favourite Devonshire Recipes, a collection of Devon food compiled by Amanda Persey. Another member of our group found this book in the Exeter Cathedral’s bookshop, and we decided to attempt a few of these recipes, choosing one drink, one main dish, and two desserts. Our constraints when choosing which dishes to attempt were the cost of the ingredients and my dietary restrictions. I do not eat any meat other than fish, so some of the ingredients have been substituted to make them possible for me to consume. Underneath each recipe, we have included a timestamped experience of attempting to make these recipes.

1) Cider Toddy

½ pint dry cider                      A piece of fresh ginger root
A strip of lemon rind              1 tablespoon clear honey

Put the cider, ginger, and lemon rind into a pan and heat until hot, but not boiling. Stir in the honey and strain into a warmed glass. This makes a warming drink to enjoy on a cold winter’s evening—very reviving.


8:02 pm: I arrive at Andrea’s door to make the first recipe on our list. It is a cider toddy. We are a little off-season, but excited none the less.

8:06 pm: We put everything on the recipe into the pot. We do not look at the instructions.

8:09 pm: “Wait, Andrea, we were supposed to put the honey in later.”

“It’s too late. Nothing really matters anymore”

8:15: “How long are we supposed to wait for this?”


“Should we be taking pictures?”

“Molly, it’s a covered pot on a stove, also there’s not good lighting.”

8:20: “Should I stir this? Because it seems too easy.”

“I feel like all booze recipes are super easy because people just want to get to the drinking bit. Except Glörg. Glörg isn’t easy. Also it’s Swedish.”

8:23: I roll over to the stove in Andrea’s desk chair. Andrea says softly, “It’s not done yet.”

8:27: “Alright, let’s get some mugs.” Andrea pours it, “Hmm, still fizzy. Yum.” 


8:28: We choose not to strain it for the artistic effect of the strips of ginger. 



 8:32: “It’s a little sour.”

“I was going to say a little sweet.” You can’t really taste the ginger, which is surprising because we used a lot of ginger.

8:33 “This does seem like something you’d drink on a stormy night.”

8:43: “this is actually a really relaxing drink”

“I didn’t like it at first, but I’m warming up to it. I’m warming up to this warm drink.”

2) Devon Clotted Cream Biscuits

            8 oz. thick farmhouse clotted cream               1 large egg

            1 lb. flour                                                        8 oz. caster sugar

            1-2 tablespoons of milk

Set oven to 400° F or Mark 6. Place the clotted cream in a large mixing bowl and sieve in the flour. Add the egg, stirring with a round-edged knife until the mixture resembles find breadcrumbs. Add 3 oz. of the sugar and enough milk to make a pastry consistency. Roll thinly on a lightly floured surface and cut into rounds. Sprinkle with the remaining caster sugar. Place on a floured baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes until pale golden in colour. Cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack. These are delicious, crisp, creamy biscuits.

3:25 pm: We begin our biscuit adventure

3:27: It’s one thing to know that the recipe calls for 1lb of flour; it’s another to visualize what that actually is (hint: a heck of a lot of flour.)

3:30: Andrea assures me the dry, crumbly texture is what a normal pastry looks like. We have added the milk and sugar, and it still appears very dry. We add 2 more tbsp. of milk than the recipe calls for.

3:35: Andrea pours it on the table (our lightly floured surface) and adds 3 more tbsp. of milk. Finally it starts to resemble more than a pile of weird breadcrumbs. 



3:38: “How thin am I supposed to roll this?”

“The recipe just says ‘thinly roll’”

“I guess they expect everyone to know already. Are they more like cookies or scones?”

“Cookies? I think?”

3:40 When you’re attempting this recipe, please note that we are using a microwave convection oven. It’s still a functioning oven, but it’s tiny and runs a little cold. The time taken to bake may be a little skewed when you translate the recipe to a full size kitchen. We also have itty bitty trays for our itty bitty oven.


3:47: “How’s the dough?”

“I don’t know; I haven’t been eating it.” I try it. It’s not bad.

“So basically we’re just making British sugar cookies.”


3:50: The first batch is in!

3:56: Andrea’s microwave doesn’t have a light inside, so I shine the flashlight on my iPhone to the little window. It’s about as effective as I thought it would be. “They look like cookies.”

“What were you expecting?”

“Aliens, maybe.”

4:05: The timer goes off, but as we expected, the biscuits weren’t quite golden yet.

4:20: After 25 minutes of baking, we decide that the cookies probably aren’t getting much browner. And so, the next batch goes in. 

4:27: Final result: A little bland, but tastes great with some jam on top. We used Bon Maman strawberry. They’re kind of like a really flat scone

Clotted cream biscuits


3) Brixham Fish Soup

            2 tablespoons olive oil                        2 onions, peeled and sliced

            2 cloves garlic, crushed                       2 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced

            2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly

1 large can chopped tomatoes             1½ pints good fish stock

½ pint dry white wine                                    2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper                                  

2 lb. mixed fish fillets (monk fish, gurnard, cod, plaice, etc.)

4 tablespoons double cream                1 tablespoon chopped parsley 

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and fry until softened. Add the garlic, leeks and carrots. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, wine, and bay leaves. Season and simmer for 15 minutes. Prepare the fish by cutting into bite-size pieces. Add the firm fish first (for example monk fish) and cook for 3 minutes, then add the more delicate fish (for example plaice) and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes. Do not overcook the fish. Pour the soup into a warmed dish, stir in the cream and sprinkle with parsley.

Fish soup or stew, which it almost resembles, can be made using fish according to deason and the catch. There are many variations. 

4:06: We start chopping vegetables for the other recipe, the fish stew.

4:07: Andrea, culinary goddess, sharpens my knife.

4:16: I start cutting the onions. “Hoo doggie, my eyes are watering”

4:29: “Wow this is a lot of vegetables.”

“Maybe we should invite some people over?”

4:30: We sent a Facebook message to our friends asking them to come eat our soup.

4:40: No response.

4:48: “I didn’t know what good fish stock was so I got the little cubes from Tesco.”

“That’s chill.”

4:55: The onions are frying and the room smells heavenly.

5:08: We realize that we are going to need to use two pans. There is so much veg.

Plating Fish Stew

5:12: I leave for the market to get bread; we attempt to use the bread to bribe our friends into coming over and eating our soup.

5:20: “I don’t think it’s working”

5:29: We put the baguettes in the oven and add the fish to the soup. It’s almost done!!

5:35: This is by far the best recipe we’ve made thus far. Even if you’re not feeling the idea of fish soup, we recommend that you give this one a chance.

Fish stew

4) Apple In and Out

8 oz. self-raising flour            4 oz. shredded suet*

2 oz. caster sugar                    Pinch of salt

2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunky pieces

Cold water to mix

Set oven to 350° F or Mark 4. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl and stir the prepared apples. Add enough cold water to form a soft but not sticky dough. Put into a large, greased pie dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes until golden brown in color.

*note: to make this recipe vegetarian, we substituted the suet (which has animal fat in it) for vegitable suet.


3:52: We start on the Apple In and Out after acquiring some self-raising flour from a market that is thankfully open on a bank holiday.

4:00: I don’t know if you’ve ever seen shredded suet, but it looks very gross. Kind of like if you took the prepackaged grated cheddar from Sainsbury’s, dried it out, and doused it in flour.

4:02: “Add enough cold water to form a soft but not sticky dough.”

“Mm, I love those very specific measurements, Favourite Devonshire Recipes.”

4:05: “Do you want to add a sprinkle of cinnamon or something to this? If it had butter in it, I’d be like ‘yeah, this has enough flavor in it.’ But I’m not sure shredded vegetable suet is our one-way ticket to Flavortown, as our friend Guy Fieri would say.” We have learned from our biscuit mistakes.

4:07: “Alright, in it goes.”

4:09: We realize that this is going to take 45 minutes to bake. “Oh boy.”

4:54: It’s been 45 minutes. It is not golden brown.

5:06: After nearly an hour in the oven, our In and Out is finally ready.

5:07: “It has this weird oil layer on the outside that’s bubbling.”

“Yeah, it’s probably going to be a little greasy. Let’s not worry about it.”

Apple cake

5:39: The In and Out has just now cooled long enough for us to plate it and consume.

5:47: Not bad. I’m glad we decided on the cinnamon, though. “It kind of reminds me of eating an apple cider donut.”

5:48: While it did take a very long time to bake, we think this was worth the wait. The food prep was easy, it created very few dishes, and it tastes pretty darn good.


 Written, cooked, and photographed by Molly Wyrsch and Andrea Lindquist.

Works Cited

Persey, Amanda, and A. R. Quinton. Favourite Devonshire Recipes. Sevenoaks: J. Salmon, 1993. Print.