Monday, July 6, 2015

Mrs. Goodfellow - raves from Miss Leslie and others

Mrs. Goodfellow (c1767-1851) was a renowned baker, confectioner and founder of a cooking school for wealthy young ladies. She changed the paragraph format of recipes to list the ingredients first, and her lemon pies, Spanish buns and cocoanut pies were locally renowned. Using her class notes, Eliza Leslie, a student, wrote the first of her many popular cook books, passing on Mrs. Goodfellow's recipes and ideas to future generations of cooks.

Elizabeth Goodfellow or Elizabeth Pearson or Eliza Cone or Mrs. Goodfellow or even Betsy Goodfellow was “justly-celebrated” during her lifetime in the Philadelphia area, but then was almost forgotten, since she didn’t leave any records or write a cookbook. And the book Mrs. Goodfellow’s Cookery as it Should Be doesn’t count. (see below)  Her student Eliza Leslie (1787-1858) used Goodfellow's recipes for the basis of her first very popular cookbook,but did not acknowledge the origin of the recipes, infact, she insisted the recipes were "original". Leslie went on to a very successful career and was not forgotten. (again, more below)


"Mrs. Goodfellow was a very respectable, ladylike person, who, having been thrown on her own resources, opened a pastry cookery establishment, which soon became famous.” From at least 1801, she was listed in the city directories as Eliza or Elizabeth Pearson, pastry cook, then as Eliza Cone. After Coane died, she married William Goodfellow, a Philadelphia clockmaker in 1808 when she was 40, but he too died, ten years later.  She had two children - Sarah Anne Pearson Bouvier (1800-1826) from her first marriage, and from the second, Robert Coane (1804-1877). [11]

Goodfellow owned a baked goods and confectionery shop for over fifty years, to support herself and her children. In the last few censuses, she was listed with her son and his family (or they with her) ‘over the shop’ at 71 South Sixth Street with many young workers lodging with them.  Her obituary stated that Mrs. Elizabeth Goodfellow, 83, died on January 5, 1851 and the services were to be held at Robert Coane’s home. So, unless she was born on Jan. 1-4, she was most likely born in 1767, not 1768 as generally stated.  [endnotes: 11, 18] 

Pastry cook, confectioner

“Betsy Goodfellow, [was] a famous maker of cakes and pies at that time.” Many of her baked goods were legendary, particularly the "excellence of her cakes."
Her lemon pudding (pie) was “well known at Philadelphia dinner parties.” It contained only perfectly beaten eggs, sugar and butter with no grated Naples biscuits or flour.  Eliza Leslie claimed, in her later books, that Mrs. Goodfellow introduced the lemon pie (not exactly, more in my next post HERE

Leslie also complimented her "excellently made" Spanish Buns.  Mrs. Goodfellow made newer items such as cocoanut pudding and her notable old standards: puff paste (pie crust), Queen cakes, jumbles, plum pudding, bread and sponge cakes - "lighter than hers no sponge-cake could possibly be."   [11,7,10]

Although never nationally or internationally famous, she was famed in her city and to her students.   Philadelphians would long remember their favorites.  A Philadelphia foreign correspondent in Europe, reporting for a Philadelphia magazine, wrote, perhaps nostalgically, in 1851 that “Mrs. Goodfellow's pastry-cooking, whose cocoanut pudding, for example, is equal to the best inspiration of suicidal and immortal Vatel” (1631-1671).  [3] 

According to city directories Mrs. Goodfellow moved her shop several times in over five decades: 64/68 Dock street “near Second street, south side,” 134 South Second, and finally 91/71 Sixth Street “between Spruce and Pine Streets.” She also changed her job title.  For thirty-five years and at the three locations, she was a “pastry cook,then she became a “confectioner” in 1837 and the shop was renamed E. Goodfellow & Son (she was 69, Robert 32). When she personally was no longer listed, by age 80, the store became Goodfellow & Coane.  Generally she was listed as Elizabeth over the years, except the four years she was Eliza Cone, and once, when she appeared as Eliza Pearson in the listing and Elizabeth in the index of the 1801 directory.  She may have been working or owned a shop before 1801 (actually 1800 since they collected the data the previous year, when she was about 33 years old) but several years are not currently online.

“Mrs. Goodfellow, who was for many years in this city, pre-eminent in the art of cooking,” had a reputation for training her workers.  In 1843, a rival Philadelphia baker advertised for “a journeyman baker” stating that “one who has served time with Parkinson or Mrs. Goodfellow would be preferred.”  Her shop was robbed in 1832, giving a reporter the chance to play with her name. A “bad fellow” took the money drawer with ten to twelve dollars from “Good Fellow;” he was chased and captured by a “good fellow.” [6,17,16] 

Cooking school

For thirty years Mrs. Goodfellow taught "her art in Philadelphia, with unexampled success," according to Eliza Leslie. Susan Israel graduated in 1807 (as Mrs. Coane, and probably held classes a few years earlier), so Goodfellow probably stopped when she moved to the Sixth Street location by 1835.  “Mrs. Goodfellow was quite celebrated in Philadelphia…[as]…the head of a famous cooking school class.”  It was “an institution, peculiar to Philadelphia, which may be termed ‘A Cooking School for Young Ladies,’ where practical instruction was given in the mysteries of making cakes, pastry, preserves, &c.” [7,1,2,4]  

“Her pupils were the daughters of our best citizens,” recalled a sister of one of her students. Taking cooking classes was “considered then the last touch to their education preparatory to entering society.”  In addition to daughters of the local well-to-do, there were numerous boarding schools which attracted students from nearby states, or like Leslie, daughters of craftsmen and boardinghouse managers.  After attending Mrs. Goodfellow’s classes “many a household, for years after, bore evidence of her skill in teaching.”  Some of her students may not have been as interested in baking and cooking as Eliza Leslie, who later recalled that her “instructress, the late Mrs. Goodfellow, remarked, in allusion to the dullness or silliness of some of her pupils, ‘It requires a head even to make cakes.’" [11,1,6] 

The students “gained a thorough knowledge of cooking — from soups and the ‘Staff of life’ [bread] to plum-pudding and Queen cakes.”  “Her especial talent was in the making of fine cakes and pastry, though she also gave occasional instruction in the preparing of boned turkey, salads, and the like.” Another source stated “…boning a turkey gave one a diploma at this celebrated school.”  Mrs. Goodfellow, “the liberal and honest instructress [felt] that her scholars should learn in reality."  Thus, there was actual cooking over the fire and in the bake ovens. Perhaps she had a brick stew stove or confectioner’s stove. Each course must have been slightly different, since Eliza Leslie wrote that she took two terms, and certainly would not have said that if they were the same.  [1,11,7] 

Susan Israel (1790-1845), the daughter of Revolutionary War General Joseph Israel from Delaware “graduated with honors” in 1807, and married Thomas Painter in 1811.  Her family had “widespread appreciation of her recipes, all of which have been carefully preserved.” Many recipes from her handwritten cookbook were included in Colonial Receipt Book: Celebrated Old Receipts Used a Century Ago by Mrs Goodfellow’s Cooking School, however some recipes were added after her 1807 class, such as Delmonico Pudding and Mountain cake. [1]  

Miss Leslie

Eliza Leslie later wrote that she "was really a pupil of Mrs. Goodfellow's, and for double the usual term, and while there took notes of every thing that was made.”  Her father, Robert Leslie, a clock and watchmaker, like William Goodfellow, died in 1803, forcing her mother Lydia Leslie (c1760s-1824) to leave their High Street home two years later with the family to operate a series of boarding houses: first on South Sixth, then Spruce Street in 1814, (one block north of Dock Street) and her final two years at 1 Minor St.  “Miss Leslie not only graduated among the highest, but she had the good sense to secure her acquirements by taking notes.” Later, she would write about the knowledgeable finished students in one of her stories. “Luckily Albina is very clever at all such things, having been a pupil of Mrs. Goodfellow.” [7,4,8]          

Miss Leslie would gain fame and financial security stealing/using Mrs. Goodfellow’s recipes and techniques, as the foundation for her first cookbook.  She mentioned her teacher in a few later books – although tellingly, not in the first one, and didn't write that she was her student until after Goodfellow had died. Furthermore, she had her first book published in Boston rather in Philadelphia where they both lived, and where her brother-in-law Henry Charles Carey was a book publisher. In fact, Eliza Leslie insisted in the introduction that the recipes were "original, and have been used by the author and many of her friends with uniform success."  

Shortly after Leslie's hugely popular book was published, Mrs. Goodfellow's classes stopped.  Coincidence?  Perhaps, or because the recipes' exact amounts of ingredients (so crucial in baking) of some of Goodfellow's most popular baked goods were no longer limited to those who paid for her class.   It seems more personal taking recipes from your teacher than from stranger's printed cookbooks (the later was commonly done).  just thinking...

But it is from Leslie's later remembrances, and others, that we know about the work of Mrs. Goodfellow.  

Cooking ‘maxims’

“The justly-celebrated Mrs. Goodfellow, of Philadelphia, always taught her pupils to beat the whites and yolks together, even for sponge-cake; and lighter than hers no sponge-cake could possibly be.” [10]

“One of Mrs. Goodfellow's maxims was, "up-weight of flour, and downweight of every thing else"—and she was right, as the excellence of her cakes sufficiently proved….Therefore, allow for a pound cake a rather small pound of sifted flour; a large pound of the best fresh butter, a large pound of powdered loaf sugar…”  [7]

Spanish Buns “were first introduced by Mrs. Goodfellow; and in her school were always excellently made, nothing being spared that was good, and the use of soda and other alkalis being unknown in the establishment—hartshorn in cakes would have horrified her.” [7]  

Like many cookbooks writers, Goodfellow stressed quality ingredients such as “butter (the very best)” “fine large ripe lemons,” “fresh lemon” and “best puff-paste.”  [12,7,9]


Eliza Leslie’s recipes in her first book Seventy five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, were mainly from her two terms with Mrs. Goodfellow.  Two years later a recipe for Mrs. Goodfellow's Lemon Pudding was among the American recipes added to a Philadelphia 1830 edition of MacKenzie's Five Thousand Receipts...  After she died, a competitor, Elizabeth Nicholson, included “Goodfellow's Spanish Buns.—(Original Receipt.)” in her 1856 cookbook, and the buns and Goodfellows Jumbles also were in Scott’s book, 1866.  These and other cookbooks with recipes are listed at the end of the post. 

Mrs. Goodfellow recipes can also be found in two books compiled in 1907 submitted by a few of her students' descendants, although some recipes may have been added to their handwritten collections long after the class.  These included cooking terrapins, mincemeat, sweet potato pudding, Floating Island, Swiss Cream, Boiled Custard, Dove Pudding, Apple Pudding, Potato Pudding, White Potato Pie, Oxford Pudding, Puff Paste, Mince Pies, Queen Cake, Cream cake, Plum Cake, Nut Cake, Cocoanut Cakes, Rose Jumbles, Yeast Cakes, Drop Cakes, Potato Biscuit, Barrington Rusk, Waffles, Preserved Citron, Cookies, Hickory-nut Macaroons, and others.   [2,1]

Several recipes of her famous Lemon Pudding recipes will be in the next post HERE .  “A genuine baked lemon pudding, (such as was introduced by the justly celebrated Mrs. Goodfellow,) and is well known at Philadelphia dinner parties, must have no flour or bread whatever. The mixture only of butter, sugar, and eggs, (with the proper flavoring) and when baked it cuts down smooth and shining, like a nice custard. Made this way, they are among the most delicious of puddings…” [7]

(Mrs. Goodfellow’s) Cookery as it Should Be don’t blame the author!

In 1856, a 324 page book written by a former student of Mrs. Goodfellow was published as Cookery as it should be: new manual of the dining room and kitchen, for persons in moderate circumstances, and sold for 75 cents.  It was reprinted many times, the last being in 1865. The recipes were from a variety of sources: “experienced housekeepers of the south,” friends returning from Europe with recipes, and original recipes.  She “experimented” with the recipes, thus sounding modern and scientific rather than the usual ‘tried’ or ‘used’ with the family.  The recipes used the most up-to-date ingredients such as chemical leavenings and were “adapted to American palates.” 

Although the publisher stated that the “lady was a pupil of the justly celebrated Mrs. Goodfellow,” the introductory ‘publisher’s advertisement’ did not claim the book was Mrs. Goodfellow’s recipes, rather, I think, it meant that the author had additional learning in the field, an expert perhaps. And yet the author was chided, then (by Leslie) and now, for straying from Mrs. Goodfellow’s principles.  Only one recipe “A nice puff paste” was actually attributed (in the index, but not with the actual recipe) directly to Mrs. Goodfellow.  [19]

In 1865 that all changed with the subtraction of a few words and the addition of two, in the first and only edition by a different Philadelphia publisher, T. B. Peterson & Bros. - Mrs. Goodfellow’s Cookery as it Should Be. The very important line “by A Practical Housekeeper, and Pupil of Mrs. Goodfellow” was removed in the second title.  Furthermore, in the introduction “The lady was a pupil of the justly celebrated Mrs. Goodfellow, who was for many years…” was replaced by “They are by the justly celebrated Mrs. Goodfellow, who was…” yet the rest of the paragraph remained the same. This was definitely a ‘steal’ from the author (perhaps dead) by the publisher and the book Leslie had a right to complain about… if she hadn’t died in 1858 and Goodfellow in 1851.  [13,14]

BUT. People in glass houses….. Leslie (whose recipes I like and sometimes make) had a huge following and earned praise and money (she spent much of her last decade living as a celebrity in the United States Hotel) from her many cookbooks, and had, if we are frank about it, 'borrowed' recipes and ideas from Goodfellow in that first book of 75 recipes and later ones. This was not unusual. Some she had updated.  For all the complaints that the new 'Mrs. Goodfellow' book used alkalis, which was counter to “the use of soda and other alkalis being unknown in the establishment” of Mrs. Goodfellow, Eliza Leslie used them also…even in her first book, where more than a few of the recipes called for pearl-ash or salaeratus.  

Leslie’s Seventy five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, 1828

Presumably Mrs. Goodfellow put the ingredients and amounts first, since Leslie listed them first in her cookbook, but reverted back to the more common paragraph format in later works. “All the ingredients, with their proper quantities, are enumerated in a list at the head of each receipt, a plan which will greatly facilitate the business of procuring and preparing the requisite articles.” [9]

In an autobiographical letter to a friend when she was 64, and after Goodfellow had died, Eliza Leslie explained why she compiled the book.  “Truth was, I had a tolerable collection of receipts, taken by myself while a pupil of Mrs. Goodfellow’s cooking school, in Philadelphia. I had so many applications from my friends for copies of these directions, that my brother suggested my getting rid of the inconvenience by giving them to the public in print.” [5]

Endnotes [1,2…] sources of quotes;
*books with Goodfellow recipes - *
~ most of the following are online

1* Colonial Receipt Book: Celebrated Old Receipts used a Century Ago by Mrs Goodfellow’s Cooking School.  Phila: 1907  // many recipes from 4 students
* Coleman, Debbie.  Cook Book: 1st volume.  July 16th 1855   //  Cocoanut Pudding, Jumbles
* Diamond, Becky Libourel.  Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America’s first cooking school.  Yardley, Pa: 2012.   // many recipes
2* Famous Old Receipts used a Hundred Years and More in the Kitchens of the North and the South, Contributed by Descendants. 2d Phila: 1908  //Lemon Custard, Floating Island, Oyster Pye
3 Fry, William H.  “The Paris Hippodrome.”  Sartain's Union Magazine of Literature and Art. Phila: Dec. 1851
4 Hale, Sarah Josepha Buell. Woman's Record: or, Sketches of all Distinguished Women.  New York: 1853
5 Hart, John Seely. The Female Prose Writers of America.  Phila: 1857 
6 Leslie, Eliza.  Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches. Phila: Carey & Hart  (1837) in 1851 revised ed.     
7* Leslie, Eliza.  Miss Leslie's New Cookery Book.  Phila: Peterson & Bros., 1857
8 Leslie, Eliza.  Pencil Sketches; or Outlines of Character and Manners. Phila: Carey, Lea & Blanchard, 1833  
9* Leslie, Eliza.  Seventy five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats.  Boston: Munroe and Francis, 1828
10* Leslie, Eliza.  The Lady's Receipt-book: A Useful Companion for Large or Small Families.  Phila: Carey and Hart, 1847 
11 Levick, Elizabeth Wetherill Jones. Recollections of her early days.  Phila: 1881 
12* MacKenzie, Colin.  Mackenzie's Five Thousand Receipts in all the Useful and Domestic Arts.  Phila: James Kay, Jun., 1830 impr & enl  5th Am ed  //  Lemon Pudding, Orange Pudding.  Copied by Godey's Lady's Book, 1874
*Mrs. Goodfellow Recipe Book.  Clements Library. University of Michigan. HERE
13 Mrs. Goodfellow's Cookery as it Should be: A New Manual of the Dining Room… Phila:  T. B. Peterson & Bros., 1865
14* Cookery as it should be: a new manual of the dining room and kitchen, for persons in moderate circumstances: containing original receipts on every branch of cookery.  Phila: W.P. Hazard, 1856.  //Puff Paste
15 National Era (Washington, DC) February 11, 1854 
* Nicholson, Elizabeth.  What I Know, or, Hints on the Daily Duties of a Housekeeper. Phila: Willis P. Hazard, 1856.  //  Goodfellow's Spanish Buns (Original Receipt)
16 Norfolk Advertiser.  July 27, 1832. 
17 North American and Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia) November 7, 1843
18 Public Ledger (Philadelphia) January 7, 1851 
* Scott, Sarah E.  Every-day Cookery for Every Family: Containing Nearly 1,000 Receipts. Phila: H.C. Davis, 1866. // Spanish Buns, Jumbles

Philadelphia city directories; US Census;, WorldCat

©2015 Patricia Bixler Reber
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  1. Marvelous research and thoughtful interpretation. I was googling around a group of recipes reprinted as "Copied from 1855 cookbook" (in Maine Cookery Then and Now, 1972, Rockland) found a reference to to the 1865 version of Mrs. Goodfellow's book, and then found your page. One recipe the Maine editors reprinted was Bacon Fraze, which is old enough in British usage to be Mrs.Goodfellow's --I will look in Eliza Leslie.

    1. Thanks. Check Elizabeth Ellicott Lea's Domestic Cookery 3d ed., many printings so the 1972 group could have had 1855 copy. She had a Bacon Fraise, very old English recipe. Been using Lea (and Randolph) since I moved to Maryland 25 yrs ago, so I've made this, tho I don't have my notes handy on this recipe for other authors similar recipes.