A Pudding c.1850


I feel the need to share a recipe, I have these moments, it comes from a need to feed people. There’s nothing I like more than a load of folks sitting around my kitchen table tucking in to something warm out of the oven

Now brace yourselves, you are going to look at the list of ingredients and go “yuck!”, but trust me. This recipe has been handed down through five generations of my family, from my 2x Great Gran who was born in 1841, but for all I know it may be older than that.

I’ve had to work out the weight of ingridents, because it came down to me as “a bit of that and a handful of this and a smidgen of that.”. One day someone will tell me just how much a “smidgen” is, I’d love to know.

I did do some research and think I found something very like this in Eliza Acton’s ” Modern Cooking for Private Families” first published in 1845, so it could be that Jessie got it from there.

However it began, this is what has come down the family

500 grams of raw potato. these must be the white floury type, not the waxy salad ones.

(There’s your “yuck” moment. She promised us pudding and now she is talking spuds)

140 grams of unsalted butter

140 grams of castor sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

a pinch of salt

the grated zest of 2 lemons

the juice of one lemon

200 grams of currants

200 grams of sultanas

nutmeg, freshly grated.

Boil the potatoes in unsalted water until they are tender and then mash until they are very, very smooth.

Allow to cool for a few minutes; then beat in the butter, the lemon juice and zest, the sugar and the eggs.

The mixture will be very liquid.

Now fold in the dried fruit.

Pour everything into a well buttered baking dish and cook in a moderate oven for 20-25 minutes. It should be set, but still have a slight wobble in the middle.

The original recipe doesn’t include this, but I like to sprinkle the whole thing with sugar and caramelise it. You can do this under the grill, but I’ve got a culinary blow torch and there is nothing more fun than powering ti up and torching something.

Serve in slices with or without cream. It is at its best warm, but cold is pretty good as well.

Ginger/Lemon “Cake”

“Cake” because it’s not really a cake, but a sort of pudding/dessert you can cut like a cake.

You will need a couple of packets of lemon shortcake biscuits ( Duchy ones are good), a pint or so of double cream and a jar of preserved stem ginger in syrup. And that is all folks.

What you do.

  1. You lightly oil a 2 pint basin. You then line it with cling film. This will involve a great deal of swearing, hurling of cling film across the room, demands to know which demon from the seventh pit of hell invented cling film and possibly some crying, but preserve, it will be worth it in the end.
  2. Open jar of ginger and remove one lump. Slice off six very thin circle and arrange in the bottom of the basin like a flower with five petals. You don’t have to do this, but it looks pretty when you turn it out and makes people think you’ve taken more trouble than you have.
  3. Chop the rest of the lump and three more into tiny dice
  4. Lick ginger syrup off fingers and resolve firmly to not touch the delicious syrup in the jar as you are going to need it. Give yourself a serious talk if necessary.
  5. Whip the cream to the floppy stage. Fold in three spoonfuls of the yummy syrup from the jar making sure you leave enough to cover any remaining ginger. Next fold in the chopped ginger. Put to one side….and leave it alone! It doesn’t need to be checked to make sure it is nice or you will end up with none left.
  6. Put the shortbread in a plastic bag and thump them with something heavy. Aim at rubble not dust.
  7. Ready to assemble. Start with cream, put in enough to cover your ginger flower then add a layer of shortbread rubble. Alternate until you have either used up all the crumb and cream or you reach the top of the basin.
  8. Cover top with more cling and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, over night is good.
  9. To serve, turn out onto a plate removing all trace of cling.

I promise your taste buds will love you forever.

Don’t like ginger…. try plain shortbread with orange zest, a little sugar and candied orange peel in the cream. Or…and this is SO good…lavender shortbread with lemon zest and sugar in the cream and served with strawberry sauce.