Foods From Famous Literature: 6 Irresistible Literary Treats

Foods From Famous Literature: 6 Irresistible Literary Treats

By Henry Fry, Team Coordinator, DK

Books can make you laugh, make you cry, and make you miss your bus stop. But the best ones make you hungry.

Literature is peppered with delectable (and not so delectable) delicacies that you often wish would leap from the page and straight onto your plate. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourites, and even included a few page-turning recipes so they really can come to life!

1. Madeleines | In Search of Lost Time, Volume 1 by Marcel Proust

Perhaps the most famous of sponge cakes, the Madeleine comes to life in literature when Proust’s narrator recalls a vivid memory from his childhood, of dunking a Madeleine into his tea. The extraordinary experience stuck with him, and a lifelong love was born.

From Bake to Impress, these particular Madeleines can include ground almonds to make them both fantastically light and marvellously moist. Enjoying a good Madeleine is never time lost!


60g (2oz) butter, melted but not hot, plus extra for greasing
60g (2oz) caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g (2oz) plain flour, sifted
icing sugar, to dust

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Carefully brush the moulds with melted butter and dust with flour.

2. Put the sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture is pale, thick, and will hold a trail. This should take 5 minutes with an electric whisk, or slightly longer if you are using a hand whisk.

3. Sift the flour over the top and pour the melted butter down the side of the mixture. Using a large metal spoon, fold them in carefully and quickly, being careful not to knock out any air.

4. Fill the moulds with the mixture and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool, before dusting with icing sugar.

2. Tea | Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

The Mad Hatter’s tea party is as quintessentially English as the drink itself. However, tea is enjoyed the world over in myriad forms, from matcha-flavoured drinks and treats to iced teas and bubble spheres. Rocking Cherry from The Tea Book is a hot tea of Wuyi Rock oolong roasted leaves with an earthy depth and a slightly floral aroma, complete with cherries and nutmeg. You really would have to be as mad as a hatter not to love it!


12 cherries, pitted and halved pinch of ground nutmeg, plus extra to garnish
300ml (10fl oz) boiling water
600ml (1 pint) water heated to 85°C (185°F)
4 tbsp Wuyi Rock tea leaves

Special equipment:

Muddler, or pestle

1. Muddle the cherries in a teapot with a muddler or pestle. Then add the nutmeg and the boiling water and leave to infuse.

2. Place the tea leaves in a separate teapot, add the heated water, and infuse for 4 minutes.

3. Strain the tea into the fruit infusion.

4. Strain into cups and serve hot with a small sprinkling of nutmeg.

3. Gruel | Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Gruel is much better than it sounds! It’s really just a kind of porridge: oat, wheat or rye flour boiled in milk or water. A savoury bowl of oatmeal topped with cabbage, spinach, black beans and avocado is an exciting breakfast variation from Power Bowls – though one that would surely confound poor Oliver. Oats are full of slow-release energy that will keep you satisfied for hours, so you won’t be the one asking if you can please have some more.


50g (1¾oz) rolled oats
½ tsp ground turmeric
120ml (4fl oz) almond milk
100ml (3½fl oz) filtered water
1 pinch of salt

50g (1¾oz) red cabbage, shredded
40g (1½oz) black beans
1 handful of baby spinach
½ avocado, peeled and sliced
1–2 tsp hazelnut
Salt and pepper to taste
Sesame oil (optional)

1. Combine the oats in a saucepan on the hob with the turmeric, almond milk, water, and salt. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5–7 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Take the pan off the heat and leave to one side.

2. Place the red cabbage and beans in the top of a steaming pan. Steam on the hob for 5 minutes.

3 Stir the spinach into the oatmeal, cover, and leave to wilt for around 5 minutes.

4. Place the turmeric and spinach oatmeal in a bowl and top with the cabbage, beans, avocado, and dukkah.

5. Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with sesame oil, if desired.

4. Jellies | Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

The genteel parlours of Jane Austen are awash with elaborate regency meals. After Fanny’s ball in Mansfield Park, the loathsome Mrs. Norris goes home with more jellies than she can fathom. Had these mango and milk or prosecco and raspberry jellies been on offer, we might have done the same! Discover them in Step-By-Step Desserts.

5. Pickled Limes | Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Amy March uses this New England treat to make friends when she takes a brown paper bag of twenty-five pickled limes to school. Unfortunately, Mr. Davis, her teacher, hates pickled limes and forces her to throw them all out of the window! It’s a good thing Mr. Davis isn’t around to spoil these delicious Lift (Egyptian pickled turnip), which are perfect in a sandwich with shawarma or falafel. You can find them in Fermenting Food Step-By-Step.

6. Liquid Chocolate | Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s food is often as revolting as his characters, from fresh mudburgers to goose-liver-filled doughnuts. But the pleasure Charlie’s taste buds receive as soon as he enters Willy Wonka’s fantastical factory are enough to make anyone’s tummy rumble. Just like Charlie, this Guatemalan-spiced cacao drink from Chocolate will fill you with a smooth, velvety happiness from head to toe.


For more delectable lunches, sweets and nibbles, browse our full range of Food and Drink titles.

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