Contemporary recipes and cooking guidance
from Contemporary Cookery for Private Individuals by Eliza Acton (London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1871. p.48.)

With the arrival of the printing push in the 16th and 17th centuries, numerous publications were published on how best to control families and make food. In Holland and England competition grew involving the respectable families regarding who could prepare probably the most lavish banquet. By the 1660s, cookery had evolved to a skill kind and great cooks were in demand. Many published their own books describing their recipes in opposition using their rivals. A number of these books have been translated and can be found online.

By the 19th century, the Victorian preoccupation for domestic respectability brought about the emergence of cookery publishing in their contemporary form. While eclipsed in reputation and respect by Isabella Beeton, the initial modern cookery author and compiler of recipes for the home was Eliza Acton. Her groundbreaking cook book, Modern Cookery for Personal Individuals published in 1845, was targeted at the domestic reader rather than the qualified cook or chef. This is immensely powerful, establishing the format for contemporary writing about cookery. It introduced the now-universal practice of listing the components and recommended cooking times with each recipe. It involved the first formula for Brussels sprouts. Modern cook Delia Jones called Acton “the most effective writer of recipes in the British language.” Contemporary Cookery extended survived Acton, remaining in print until 1914 and accessible more recently in facsimile.

Acton’s work was a significant impact on Isabella Beeton, who published Mrs Beeton’s Book of Home Management in 24 monthly parts between 1857 and 1861. This was a guide to running a Victorian family, with suggestions about fashion, child treatment, animal husbandry, poisons, the administration of servants, science, religion, and industrialism. Of the 1,112 pages, over 900 contained recipes. Many were shown with shaded engravings. It is stated that lots of the recipes were plagiarised from early in the day authors such as for example Acton, however the Beetons never stated that the book’s articles were original. It was intended as a dependable information for the aspirant heart classes.

The National cook Fannie Farmer (1857–1915) published in 1896 her popular perform The Boston Preparing School Cookbook which contained some 1,849 recipes.