What Is Flummery And Where Can You Find It?

If you are watching the new HBO Max animated satirical series "The Prince," it may have you googling about the flummery tart the Queen is purported to be so fond of eating (via IMDb). It also might have you wondering if flummery is even real. Well, wonder no more. It is, indeed, real and is a dessert that has been around for several centuries. What might give you pause is that "flummery" can mean different things depending on where you are in the world. 

As described by Foods of England Project, one of the oldest versions — if not the oldest version — of flummery is a sweet Jell-O-like dessert made using oatmeal and rose water that would be served with cream and honey and was considered a really decadent treat. Today, the food that many people refer to as flummery is quite different and actually quite popular on a continent far from where the earlier version originated. You might recognize this newer flummery by the alternate name jelly whip, according to The Kiwi Cook. 

Flummery's history

What do we know about flummery's humble beginnings? According to Historic Foods, a written recipe for flummery first appeared in "Mrs. Raffald's Cookery Book" of 1769; however, it also has some literary cred in its story. There is at least one reference to this treat that dates back to 1623, when G. Markham made mention of it in his book "Countrey Contentments or the English Huswife." The name of this dish is also a bit of a conversation starter. 

Foods of England Project shares that some people think flummery is based off a Welsh dish called llymru, which is similar in taste and texture, but there is also a school of thought that believes it may be tied to a tradition of coming up with funny names for desserts to reflect their "trivial" nature. But per Lexico.com, the word itself, flummery, also has come to mean "empty compliments; nonsense."

Flummery is popular in New Zealand and Australia

The flummery we enjoy today has evolved and is quite different from the oat-based dessert of centuries past. In fact, when most people talk about flummery, the dessert they are referencing is more in line with what is called a jelly whip, according to The Kiwi Cook. The jelly whip is very different from its English cousin and was born in Australia or New Zealand during post-World War II. 

While this dessert of yore has still maintained its simplicity, it is more of a creamy mousse made with flavored gelatin or "jelly" as the English call it, along with some evaporated milk. Of course, you can substitute the evaporated milk for something a little denser, if you prefer. The BBC Good Food shares that you can make your jelly whip with double cream if you want to get really decadent. That rich, creamy concoction can then be served as is or piled high on top of a small mound of set Jell-O. Either way, it sounds delicious.

The flavor you add defines your flummery

But part of the appeal of this dessert is that it is easy to create. The flummery we eat now doesn't bother with rose water or soaking oatmeal to release the starch into the water. It is much more convenient. In fact, it is really a two-ingredient recipe that can be dressed up depending on your taste bud's preferences. The Kiwi Cook reveals that because the modern version of this dessert's flavor comes from the gelatin, you really want to be thoughtful in the flavor. 

In fact, the flavor you choose — be it raspberry, strawberry, lemon, or the ever-popular lime — will really define the overall taste of your flummery. The blogger also offers two expert tips if you want to try your hand at making this easy and delicious sweet. The first is to consider adding a little juice or cordial to enhance the flavor, and the second is to make certain you've chilled your condensed milk or you won't get it to whip up properly.

How to make traditional flummery

Still, if you want to get the full experience of how flummery was originally made in England and Scotland, there are recipes out there to help you recreate the past. Per the blog Larderlove.com, if you are a traditionalist, Scottish flummery is still made using oats that require a good soak for up to 48 hours to get a truly starchy liquid to use as its base. The blogger further shares that the oatmeal-based liquid sans the oats is still the desserts glue that holds the flummery together. 

However, they offer the expert tip that if the liquid doesn't thicken up enough as you boil it, stir a little cornflour with water together and add it to the liquid to help get the right consistency. They also suggest adding a little whisky to the starchy liquid to truly make it Scottish. When you are ready to serve, top it off with some whipped cream and bon appétit. Definitely a dessert fit for a queen.

Nutritional information for flummery

Flummery is a dessert and if you are going to enjoy this delicious concoction, it's good to remember the dish is not nutrient-dense. Flummery or jelly whip can be as rich and creamy as you want, but its calories and fat content are based on what ingredients you choose to make it with. BBC Good Food shares a recipe that uses the basic ingredients of "jelly" or gelatin along with evaporated milk or double cream, topped with a dollop of whipped cream. This recipe, for a single serving, will add 161 calories to your daily calorie count and 6 grams of fat. Seems like a mere drop in the daily calorie intake bucket to us. Flummery is definitely worth trying, at least once. It is easy to make and the perfect treat to chow down on as you dream of being royalty, fictional or real.