British ceramics are often associated with the potteries at Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire, but the tiny village of Church Gresley, in Derbyshire, made a very valuable contribution by giving us Mason Cash (as well as blue-and-white striped Cornishware). Like Stoke, the area was once rich in clay and coal deposits, idyllic conditions for running a kiln. In 1901, Thomas Cash bought a century-old pottery in Church Gresley called Mason, and soon after introduced the Mason Cash mixing bowl. It’s been a staple of every British kitchen great and small ever since.
Unchanged over the years, the bowl is easy to recognize: It has an exterior the color and texture of an English custard cream biscuit, and a smooth white interior akin to the biscuit’s butter-cream filling. The embossed pattern is not merely decorative–it provides a good grip for mixing and beating by hand, and the wide, shallow bowl is ideal for kneading dough. Over time, other shapes have been added and subtracted to the Mason Cash repertoire, but the mixing bowl has always remained the signature piece. Here are some examples of Mason Cash staples available today.
Five to Buy
Above: The Mason Cash Mixing Bowl is offered in two sizes at Provisions: The 3.5-quart and 5.25-quart bowls are $35 and $55 respectively. Space was as much a concern in grand Victorian kitchens as it is today, so Mason Cash mixing bowls have always been stackable.
Above: The traditional pudding basin also hails from Church Gresley. This stackable bowl is for cooking a treacle, steam pudding, or traditional breadcrumb-custard concoction known as “queen of puddings.” The Mason Cash Set shown here is available at Kaufmann Mercantile; the bowls are sold separately for $8.95 to $17.95 each.
Above: The Mason Cash Ceramic Baking Dish, 9.75 inches across and 2 inches deep, is ideal for gratins, cobblers, and pies; $17.95 at Kaufmann Mercantile.
Above: The Mason Cash Pestle & Mortar, a favorite of many cooks, has a bowl with an unglazed interior and the pestle has an especially wide base for greater area coverage. This example, with a 4-inch-wide, 3-inch-deep bowl and a 6-inch-long pestle, is $42 at Whisk and Bowl.
Above: The Mason Cash Counter Grip Bowl has been recently reintroduced from the archives. Its incorporated stand enables the bowl to be held steady at an angle to better reach the ingredients at the bottom. This one, 12 inches wide and 5.25 inches tall, is $49.95 at Pacific Merchants.
Object Lessons columnist Megan Wilson is the owner of Ancient Industries and the curator of the Remodelista 100, a collection of everyday essential objects featured in the Remodelista book. watch for her column every Tuesday, and have a look at her past lessons on iconic designs, including the Pastel Enamel Pot and Shaker Storage Solutions.