Centenary Potatoes au Gratin with Cream


To celebrate our 100-year anniversary, we asked Tanya to recreate one of the recipes from The Downstairs Cookbook: Recipes From A 1920s Household Cook by Margaret Powell. Read on to see how her potatoes au gratin with cream turned out. Try it yourself!

"Today in my kitchen I am “going back in time” and cooking one of my favourite dishes the way it was cooked in the 1920s. This year leading cooking appliance brand Stoves UK is celebrating 100 years. I was wondering what people cooked back then. Today we usually cook something simple and comforting using all kitchen appliances we have – starting with a good cooker,  so making dinner for my family doesn’t take more than 30 minutes usually. I was looking through the 1920s recipe book and found that most of the recipes that we cook today are similar, but the way of cooking was usually longer, people used less ingredients, etc. Sooo today I am cooking Potatoes au Gratin with Cream the way it was cooked a hundred years ago!

Potato au gratin was my family all time favourite. My mum used to slice potatoes, mix them with cream, cheese and butter and bake. Today I was excited to find the same dish in a 1920s cookbook and was surprised that the way of cooking is different. Potatoes in the old recipe are baked, cut in halves and then stuffed with a mix of cheese, cream, butter and baked again. This is how it was cooked in houses a hundred years ago! The result is the creamiest potatoes I promise!"

  1. Pick even-sized potatoes, wash and brush them in cold water, make a slit on one side or prick all over with a sharp-prolonged fork.
  2. Put them on a shelf in the oven at Gas 4-5/Electricity 350-375F (180C) and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, according to the size.
  3. When they feel soft if pressed between finger and thumb, remove from the oven, cut into halves - separate the halves - scoop out the potato into a basin.
  4. Mix with the butter, cream, 1 oz of the cheese and seasoning to taste. Put back into the cases, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese, and either brown in the oven or under the grill.

Recipe from The Downstairs Cookbook: Recipes From A 1920s Household Cook by Margaret Powell.

Re-created by food photographer and stylist Tanya Balyanitsa (https://www.instagram.com/honeytanie/).


Prep time: 10 Minutes

Cook time: 1¾ Hours - 2½ Hours

Serves: 4

  • Potatoes (one per person, medium/large)

  • 2 oz (56g) grated parmesan cheese

  • 2 oz (56g) butter

  • 1 gill (150 ml) cream

  • Pinch of paprika, salt and pepper