Orange Wafers


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


Appears in

How to Cook The Victorian Way with Mrs Crocombe

How to Cook The Victorian Way with Mrs Crocombe

By Annie Gray and Andrew Hann

Published 2020

  • About

Avis Crocombe, unpublished manuscript (no date)

This is not a traditional wafer, which was made out of batter, poured into a wafering iron and heated over a fire. Instead, this is what would now be called fruit leather. It is one of many recipes for preserving fruit in Mrs Crocombe’s book, indicating the importance of making the most of seasonal produce. She worked as cook–housekeeper for a family called the Proctor-Beauchamps in 1871 and, as the housekeeper’s role included preserving, this recipe almost certainly dates from that time. It is one of a small section of preserving recipes grouped together in the book. Oranges were usually labelled as one of two varieties – Seville, which were bitter and used for marmalade, and China, which were the sweet eating oranges we enjoy as fresh fruit today.


  • 6 ripe eating oranges
  • 540 g/1 lb 3 oz/scant 2½ cups caster sugar
  • neutral oil, for the baking sheet (optional)


Wash the oranges and cut them in half. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover them. Cover with a disc of baking parchment and a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 75 minutes or until the oranges are very tender. Drain off the liquid, reserving 200 ml/7 fl oz/scant 1 cup. Add the reserved liquid to the orange halves and put in a blender to purée thoroughly. It is best to push the orange purée through a drum sieve afterwards, to ensure it is very smooth. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting.

Put the orange purée in a saucepan and reheat. Add the caster sugar and mix thoroughly until the sugar has dissolved. Now spread the mixture out on a silicon baking sheet or lightly oiled baking parchment, to no more than 5 mm/¼ inch thick, the thinner the better. Put it in the just-warm oven overnight, to let it dry out. Mrs Crocombe’s instructions suggest drying it out over ‘some days’. In practice she may well have used a pastry oven.

To serve, cut the wafers into rectangles of 20 x 10 cm/8 x 4 inches and roll up lightly, piling the rolls in a pyramid. You can also cut rounds out, using any scraps to garnish other dishes.