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Article: Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit -
edward bridges

Welsh Rarebit

"We were greatly surprised by Edward Bridges company... It is impossible to do justice to the hospitality of his attentions towards me; he made a point of ordering toasted cheese for supper, entirely on my account." ~Jane Austen, 27 August, 1805
This is the same Edward Bridges of whom Jane had written when he married the year before, "Marriage is a great improver." It certainly seems so! Below is Martha Lloyd's recipe for toasted cheese. You will notice that it bears a striking resemblance to the recipe for Welsh Rarebit (or rabbit) which follows.
Toasted Cheese
Grate the cheese and add it to one egg, a teaspoonful of mustard, and a little butter. Send it up on toast, or in paper trays.
Cheddar cheese originates from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, South West England. Cheddar Gorge on the edge of the village contains a number of caves, which provided the ideal humidity and constant temperature for maturing the cheese. Cheddar cheese traditionally had to be made within 30 miles (48 km) of Wells Cathedral. Cheddar has been produced since at least the 12th century. A pipe roll of King Henry II from 1170 records the purchase of 10,240 lb (4,640 kg) at a farthing per pound (totaling £10.13s.4d., about £10.67 in decimal currency). Charles I (1600–1649) also bought cheese from the village. Romans may have brought the recipe to Britain from the Cantal region of France.


Central to the modernisation and standardisation of cheddar cheese was the nineteenth century Somerset dairyman Joseph Harding (1805-1876). For his technical developments, promotion of dairy hygiene and unremunerated propagation of modern cheese-making techniques he has been described as the father of cheddar cheese. Harding introduced new equipment into the process of cheese making, including his "revolving breaker" for curd cutting, saving much manual effort. The "Joseph Harding method" was the first modern system for cheddar production based upon scientific principles. Harding stated that cheddar cheese is "not made in the field, nor in the byre, nor even in the cow, it is made in the dairy".

He and his wife were behind the introduction of the cheese into Scotland and North America. Joseph Harding's son, Henry Harding, was responsible for introducing cheddar cheese production to Australia.

Welsh Rarebit (Welsh Rabbit)

Melt over hot, not boiling, water, 4 cups sliced or cubed American or sharp Cheddar cheese. Gradually stir in:

  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
           dash of pepper

Serve at once on crisp crackers or toast. 6 servings. 


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