Modern recipes and preparing advice
from Modern Cookery for Private People by Eliza Acton (London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1871. p.48.)

With the development of the making press in the 16th and 17th centuries, numerous publications were prepared on the best way to handle families and make food. In Holland and England competition became between the noble families regarding who can prepare the most lavish banquet. By the 1660s, cookery had developed to a skill kind and great chefs were in demand. Many published their very own publications detailing their recipes in opposition using their rivals. A number of these books have already been translated and are available online.

By the 19th century, the Victorian preoccupation for domestic respectability caused the emergence of cookery writing in their contemporary form. Though eclipsed in fame and regard by Isabella Beeton, the initial contemporary cookery author and compiler of recipes for the house was Eliza Acton. Her pioneering cookbook, Contemporary Cookery for Personal Individuals printed in 1845, was directed at the domestic audience rather than the qualified cook or chef. This is hugely important, establishing the format for contemporary authoring cookery. It introduced the now-universal exercise of record the materials and proposed cooking instances with each recipe. It involved the very first formula for Brussels sprouts. Modern chef Delia Jones named Acton “the most effective writer of recipes in the English language.” Contemporary Cookery long survived Acton, remaining in publications until 1914 and accessible more recently in facsimile.

Acton’s work was an essential effect on Isabella Beeton, who published Mrs Beeton’s Book of Home Administration in 24 regular pieces between 1857 and 1861. This was helpful information to running a Victorian home, with advice on fashion, kid care, animal husbandry, poisons, the administration of servants, research, religion, and industrialism. Of the 1,112 pages, around 900 contained recipes. Most were illustrated with coloured engravings. It is said that many of the recipes were plagiarised from earlier writers such as for instance Acton, nevertheless the Beetons never said that the book’s contents were original. It was intended as a trusted information for the aspirant middle classes.

The National cook Fannie Farmer (1857–1915) published in 1896 her famous function The Boston Preparing School Cook book which contained some 1,849 recipes.