Elizabeth Raffald (1733 – 19 April 1781) was an English businesswoman and writer, author of the "extremely successful" The Experienced English Housekeeper. Her book, published locally in 1769, went through 13 authorised editions and at least 23 pirated ones. In 1773, she sold the copyright to her publisher for £1400, equivalent to about £159,000 as of 2015. In that book, she was the first cook to offer the combination of bride cake, almond paste, and royal icing. It was a definitive work of instruction for fine dining using basic cooking principles, aimed at novices. She is also thought to have devised the modern Eccles cake, using flaky pastry instead of a yeast based mix.
Raffald was born in Doncaster in 1733. Between 1748 and 1763 she was employed as a housekeeper by several families, including the Warburtons of Arley Hall in Cheshire, where she met her future husband, John Raffald, Arley Hall's head gardener. In 1763 the couple moved to Manchester, where Elizabeth opened a confectionery shop and John sold flowers and seeds at a market stall. She also ran a cookery school and outside catering business from the shop, supervising formal dinner parties for the new money of Manchester. They had 9 children, only 3 daughters survived to grow up.
Raffald opened what was probably Manchester's first register office, an employment agency for servants. In 1772 she produced the first trade directory of Manchester and Salford, upgraded and reissued further editions in 1773 and 1781, invested in two local newspapers and also wrote a book on midwifery, under the guidance of Charles White, one of the founders of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, but she died before its publication. The Raffalds ran a coaching inn, The King's Head in Chapel Street where she tried hiring out carriages, holding regular entertainments and catering for the officers mess. They left there in debt due to John's drinking and he then took on a licence at The Exchange coffee house where again she catered, while still revising the directory and writing the midwifery book. She also took a stall at Kersal Races, supplying refreshments for ladies and gentlemen. She died at the age of 48 of a spasm and was quickly buried at Stockport Parish Church without her name on the headstone.
In 2012 Arley Hall announced that some of Raffald's recipes would be sold at the hall's restaurant. General manager Steve Hamilton called her "a huge character in Arley's history and it is only right that we mark her contribution to the estate's past".
- "Georgian chef Elizabeth Raffald's recipes return to Arley Hall menu", BBC, retrieved 6 April 2013
- Local History Library of the Manchester Central Library (1978), pp. 5–6
- Wilson, Carol (2005), "Wedding Cake: A Slice of History", Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 5 (2): 69–72, doi:10.1525/gfc.2005.5.2.69
- Local History Library of the Manchester Central Library (1978), Men and Women of Manchester, William Morris Press