Cardiff Pudding

Why is it that some traditional puddings stand the test of time, while others are largely forgotten? Some may be overcomplicated, others may not suit modern tastes. Maybe the ingredients are hard to come by now, maybe they’re just kind of boring?

It’s fun to try puddings and desserts from the past, just for the novelty and nostalgia, so it’s even better to find a pudding which is so amazing you’ll want to make it again and again. I found this gem in a book from 1935.

I really don’t understand why Cardiff Pudding isn’t at the top of the list of well loved traditional puddings. A quick Internet search brought up one result, from another blogger in 2011. But why? It’s no harder to make than Bakewell tart, has a deliciously unctuous texture like treacle tart, AND has meringue on top. To think what we’ve been missing all these years…

I promise you will not regret making this one!

Cardiff Pudding serves 4


  • 60g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 90g breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • Grated zest of half a lemon
  • Half a jar of raspberry jam
  • Shortcrust pastry (if you want to make your own, use 150g flour and 75g fat)
  • Another 2 tbsp of caster sugar for the meringue.


Line one standard tart tin, or four small ones, with the pastry. Spread the jam over the pastry.

Beat the sugar, butter and lemon zest together. Beat in the egg yolks.

Add the breadcrumbs. The mixture will be quite stiff, so you may need to use your hands to knead the ingredients together.

Press the breadcrumb mixture over the jam.

Bake in the oven at 190⁰c/170 fan/gas mark 4, until the mixture is set, and browned on top.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Sprinkle the sugar in and whisk till firm and glossy. Pile the meringue onto the tart (or tarts) and sprinkle with a little more sugar.

Return to the oven. Bake until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Spread the word: there’s a new pudding in town.

A Walk in the Black Forest

Do you remember a couple of years ago, I made a post about what a marvellous bit of kit a deep sided tray bake/roasting tin was? I hope you were paying attention because we’re about to put it to use!

I was doing a bit of research, on Black Forest gateau and nostalgia, and was rather surprised. Apparently it was the desert beloved of ’90s kids’. Well, I thought it was the party dessert beloved of 80s kids; and I daresay 70s kids might have something to say about that! We all have fond memories of a frozen gateau of some kind being whipped out on special occasions.

Schwarzwalder kirsch torte was invented in the first part of the 20th century and named after the alcohol, not the mountain range. Personally, I’ve never understood why it has such a devoted following. But, I’ve never tasted the real thing, and have never been keen on frozen gateaux with soggy crumbs and mushy fruit.

First of all I wanted to have a go at making the real thing, but it seemed a bit of a faff, lots of steps and advanced techniques ( I can do it, I just don’t want to); so, instead here’s a homage to Black Forest gateau that anyone with a roasting tin and a whisk can make in a matter of minutes. You can use cherries in syrup, tinned cherries or even cherry pie filling if that’s all you can get. The cherry liqueur is optional, but does improve the flavour.

Black Forest Pudding serves at least 6

For the chocolate muffin base:

  • 250g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp of cocoa powder (I like Green & Black’s)
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 8 floz buttermilk (or milk, or natural yoghurt)
  • 3 floz vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp cherry liqueur (if you can’t get any, use juice or syrup from the cherries)

For the sauce and toppings:

  • A jar of cherries in kirsch syrup (or alternative)
  • A bar of dark chocolate
  • A jar of cherry conserve or jam
  • 200ml double/whipping/heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • Cherry liqueur (optional)


Grease and line your tin. A deep sided tray or roasting tin about 30cm x 20cm will do nicely. Or a square casserole dish, or cake tin, would be fine.

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cocoa powder, into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.

2. In a separate, smaller bowl, beat together the egg, oil, buttermilk, and liqueur.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir, NOT beat, with a fork until only just combined. Muffin batter does not need to be smooth and aerated like sponge cake batter.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 180c/160 fan/gas mark 4. It will be firm to the touch, and a knife poked in the middle will come out clean.

5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a wire rack.

While it cools down, whip the cream and icing sugar until it’s nice and thick. Chill in the fridge.

6. When the cake has cooled down cut it into chunks. I cut mine into 35 chunks, there’s plenty left to nibble on.

7. Set out your serving dishes. Put a tbsp of syrup/juice/liqueur in the bottom of each dish. Add a heaped teaspoon of cherry conserve to each one and mix well.

8. Using 3 or 4 chunks of cake per person, depending on size and appetite, dip the cut edges in the syrupy jam, and pile into the dish.

9. Top with a generous blob of cream, some grated or chopped chocolate, and some cherries from the jar.


When Buttered Crumbs left home at the tender age of 17, the first recipe I had to call home and ask Old Mother Crumb for was apple crumble.

There’s nothing like a good crumble to invoke feelings of nostalgia, home and comfort. Even better, it’s hard to make a bad crumble (though it does happen) because they’re so wonderfully easy, no fancy equipment or special ingredients required. In fact, it really gets on my nerves when food writers try to add “cheffy” touches to a pudding whose best feature is it’s humbleness.

It’s easy to give in to the “curse of knowledge” and assume that somehow everyone instinctivly knows how to make something so simple. But, of course, they don’t. We all have to start somewhere. Does the world need another crumble recipe? Probably not, but I’m going to give you the benefit of my (quickly counts on fingers) twenty-six years of crumble-making, recipe-tweaking experience; and give you the recipe for the best crumble I, at least, have ever tasted.

It might seem strange and a lot of bother to use a mixture of butter and margarine, but you get a crispier crumble that still has plenty of flavour. All butter can give you a dry crumble that tastes too rich, all margarine and it lacks flavour and sets quite hard. Obviously you can use one or the other if you prefer.

Quinces are quite hard to find these days. Check your local farmers market, ethnic supermarket (they’re much more popular in Eastern Europe), or maybe someone you know has a tree in their garden. You could replace the quince with a large pear if you like.

Apple and Quince Crumble Serves 4-6

  • 3 cooking apples
  • 1 quince (or a large pear)
  • 90g golden granulated sugar
  • 150g (5oz) plain flour
  • 30g (1oz) rolled oats
  • 45g butter
  • 45g margarine (you can use 90g of butter or 90g of marg if you need to)
  • 2tbsp sugar

You’ll also need a casserole dish that holds at least 1lt. Mine measures 25x15x6cm.


Peel, core and slice the apples. Slice them fairly thin so they cook at the same rate as the crumble, too thick and they might still be hard when the topping is cooked.

Cover the base of the casserole dish with half of the sliced apple. Sprinkle one third of the sugar over the fruit.

Thinly slice the quince (or pear) and layer it over the apple. Sprinkle another third of the sugar over the fruit.

Finish with another layer of apple and the rest of the sugar. Set aside while you make the crumble topping.

To make the crumble:

Combine the flour, oats and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and margarine.

Rub the fat into the flour with your fingertips, until it resembles bread crumbs. Seriously. If you can’t imagine what that looks like, see the picture below.

Spread the crumble mix over the fruit. Bake in the oven at 180/160 fan/gas mark 3, for 40 minutes to an hour. The crumble should be golden brown, and you will be able to see the soft fruit bubbling around the edges.

You can serve straight away, but it will be VERY HOT! It’s better to let it cool for 15 mins, or while you make the custard. This amount of crumble will need a pint (600ml) of custard.

It’s generally accepted that crumbles were invented during WW2, when rationing made it difficult get enough ingredients to make a traditional pie.

The Good Life

This book review has been a long time coming because I’ve been busy doing studenty things at university; now it’s lockdown/holiday, let’s see if we can catch up a bit. Actually lockdown has been a good opportunity to catch up on the recipes in this book, because there are like, a lot…

In the early 1930’s Florence White was concerned that the English way of life was going down the drain; people couldn’t cook properly anymore and were eating too much fancy foreign muck. I wonder if she read the Daily Mail too?

Before our precious traditions were “crushed out of existence” she endeavoured to compile a book of traditional and regional recipes. Some came from older books, others were sent in by the man (or woman) on the street. Strangely enough these traditional recipes include various curry and pillau dishes, and lump in Stotch, Irish and Welsh dishes under the general banner of “England” but we’ll gloss over that.

The methods aren’t always clear, some ingredients are nigh on impossible to find, some recipes are just gross; but it was interesting to see how, and indeed how little, English food has changed over the centuries. So here goes..

Good Things in England by Florence White. First published 1932

Why did you buy the book?

I think it’s mentioned as one of the all time classic cookbooks in Nicola Humble’s marvellous book Culinary Pleasures, an excellent reference for beginner collectors.

Judge a book by it’s cover…

It’s naff, but it was the seventies so we’ll let them off. You’ve never seen a less appetizing salmon roll in your life.

Do you use it?

Not necessarily to cook from, but as a useful reference when researching vintage recipes.

What did you make?

A bunch of stuff. There are a lot of sections, so I tried to cover a bit of everything, which is probably why it’s taken me six months. Ok, we tried mock turtle soup (but without the calf’s head) which was nice, could be used a an interesting starter for a themed dinner party; baked fish with bacon and peas, mock hare – basically a fillet of beef seasoned like game – then ‘Hindle Wakes’ a slow cooked chicken flavoured with lemon and prunes, then coated with streaky bacon and finished in the oven, I recall that one being pretty good. For pudding we had apple pie scented with rosewater, Ripon ginger cake, Shrewsbury cakes (actually biscuits), Gypsy bread and Yorkshire mint pasties (more on those later). I wanted to make the older version of Bath buns but you just can’t get caraway comfits anymore!

Hindle Wakes

Is it still in print?

Surprisingly, yes. It must really be a classic then.

Is it worth buying?

That’s a tough question. You won’t find it much good for everyday cooking. Modern tastes and reliable supplies of food mean we’re unlikely to be making brain sauce or rook pie anytime soon; we don’t need seven ways to cure meat or sixteen varieties of gingerbread. However, it is interesting from a historical or research point of view, or if you like collecting vintage books.

Henry I died from a “surfeit of lampreys”, a gross slimey fish.

Muffin Traybake

So I found the muffin tins eventually, they were in mother-in-law’s garage (long story). Going back to the last post though, I did make the blueberry muffins, in the baking tray I was raving about, and it turned out to be a brilliant idea! The all-in-one traybake format was much quicker and easier than faffing around with paper cases or greasing muffin cups, and it was easier to mark out different portion sizes – very helpful for people like not-so-small-boy, who being diabetic, has to carb count.

Ways to use your traybake muffin:

  • cut it into lots of small pieces for a party
  • serve with custard or cream for dessert
  • something a bit different for breakfast
  • elevenses

I suppose you could use any muffin recipe you liked, but here is the one I used, as usual based on a Susan Reimer recipe. The addition of buttermilk makes these muffins particularly soft and moreish.

Forgive the quality of the photos, I haven’t unpacked my props or digital camera yet!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

  • 8oz (240g) plain flour
  • 2oz (60g) oats
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 4oz (120g) golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3floz (85ml) olive oil
  • 9floz (260ml) buttermilk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • small punnet of blueberries (typically 150g)

Optional glaze:

  • 3oz (90g) sifted icing sugar
  • around 3tbsp double cream (you could use milk instead)

Grease and line either a 30×20 cm traybake tin or a 12 cup muffin tray. Preheat the oven to 190°c / gas mark 5.

Wash the blueberries and cut in half, I know it’s fiddly but you’ll get a better result than leaving them whole.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, beat together the egg, oil, vanilla and buttermilk. Add the blueberries to the wet ingredients.

Tip the wet stuff into the dry and stir (NOT beat) until combined. Pour the mixture into the baking tray or divide between the muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 20 mins, untill the top is golden brown. If you used a baking tray, allow to cool in the tray for 10 mins before transferring to a wire rack, otherwise you risk it splitting into lots of hot, steaming chunks.

Make the glaze by gradually adding the cream to the icing sugar and mixing till smooth and spreadable. It’s hard to be accurate with the liquid measurement, depending on how runny the cream is, you might need a bit more or a bit less. Spread over the muffins while hot. Cut into slices once cool.
Blueberries need to be grown in an acid rather than alkaline soil.

Sir Watkin Wynn’s Vintage Pudding

Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (1692-1749) 3rd Baronet of Grey’s Inn Middlesex, was, through his mother’s family, decended from Welsh King Owain Gwynedd. The Wynn part of surname was adopted to honour the connection. Since then there have been many Watkin Wynns, so it’s hard to say which one was lucky enough to have a pudding named after him! I suppose it’s most likely the one who also had a Welsh folk song (which I can’t find) written about him. Apparently, according to The Daily Mail – well known Middle England tabloid scaremonger, the family have “spectacularly fallen from grace”. However, with this particular newspaper it is always wise to take their stories with a very large “pinch of salt”

My book, “Complete Illustrated Cookery Book” dates from 1935, but the recipe dates back to at least the mid 1800’s, and was popular on resturant menu’s. By the 30’s it had lost some of it’s richness and become a much easier pudding to make (and digest!). It’s also one of the few recipes in the book not to have a poncey French translation in brackets, merely saying “(British)”, even though equally Welsh “Snowdon Pudding” becomes “Pouding à la Snowdon” ?!

Sir Watkin Wynn’s Pudding

  • 6oz (180g) white breadcrumbs
  • 4oz (120g) suet
  • 3oz (90g) sugar
  • 3 heaped tbsp marmalade
  • 3 beaten eggs

You will need a mould or pudding basin that holds at least a pint. Vintage moulds are still fairly easy to get hold of cheaply. Check out your local charity shops and flea markets.

Mix all of the ingredients together and spoon into a mould or pudding basin. Boil or steam for 1½ – 2 hours. You can do this in a very large saucepan or slow cooker with around 2 pints of water in it, keep an eye on the water level – it will need topping up now and then. Don’t let it boil dry or you risk cracking your mould and burning the top of the pudding. Use a trivet, if you have one, to raise the mould away from direct contact with the bottom of the pan.

makeshift trivet
makeshift trivet

ready to boil
ready to boil


When cooked, remove from the pan and allow to cool for 10 mins. Run a knife around the edge of the pudding and turn out onto a serving plate. Serve hot, suet puddings always go a little weird when cold!

To serve:

Earlier versions recommend a wine sauce, my book suggests a tangy lemon sauce made from boiling the rind of a lemon cut into small strips (much as you would make the shreds for marmalade) with the juice and half a pint of water. When the shreds are soft,add sugar to taste and reduce to a thin syrupy consisitency.

I would suggest heating half a jar of lemon marmalade until runny and drizzling that on the pudding instead. Much easier.




Forgotten Puddings

Variety in the ingredients, we think, is held only of secondary consideration with the great body of the people, provided that the whole is agreeable and of sufficient abundance.

Mrs Beeton

Do you know your Batchelor’s Pudding from your Baroness Pudding? Cabinet from College? Or indeed, Empress from Exeter? Me neither. How many puddings have fallen by the culinary wayside, victims of changing tastes and the whims of fashion? Were they too boring, too complex, too expensive or just perceived as “old fashioned”. Were you put off certain puddings as a child because of having to suffer the industrial and institutional school dinner version?

Its easy to stick to our childhood favourites, only trying something new for a dinner party, or at a resturant. Cooking programmes on the telly only expose us to what is currently in fashion. Cookbooks either trot out the same recipes with variations time and time again, or vie with each other to see who can combine the most fancy and unlikely ingredients. All very pretty, but how many of us are going to get round to making such expensive and outlandish creations?

Did you know I collected vintage cookbooks? Guess what my favourite section is? Puddings and Desserts, hurrah! Having grown a little tired of cake of the month, though It will still happen sporadically no doubt, I feel it’s time to delve deeper into these foodie goldmines for second helpings of inspiration. I will be deliberately choosing the weird, obscure and old fashioned puddings that few of us have ever heard of, adapting to modern tastes/ingredients/measures only if absolutely necessary.

Starting with Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (because why not?), I wanted to make the rather bizzarely named “Stone Cream”. Sadly, no two books can decide on what flavouring to use, also Crumb Towers has fallen on hard times recently and I can’t afford to buy a bottle of sherry just to splash it around in a pudding we might not even like! Instead we will begin with “Vanilla Cream”, the ingredients are readily available and it’s not too hard to make. You will need a jelly mould that will hold at least 1 pint (roughly 600ml), or a variety of small moulds. It looks good as a centrepiece, though in retrospect I think it would be better served as an individual portion, with some zingy fruit sauce drizzled around it. The boys adored this pudding, and as puddings go, it’s pretty nutritious. If you worry about sugar, I’m sure you could cut down or use an alternative.

The original recipe calls for isinglass, which I have replaced with leaf gelatine, and eight eggs, which I have reduced to six. Apparently eggs were a lot smaller in those days, so recipes look a lot more extravagant than they actually were!

Vanilla Cream

  • 1 pint (600ml) milk (any kind)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 5oz (150g) caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 sheets of leaf gelatine
  • 1½ tsp cornflour

Beat together the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla extract.

Put the milk in a medium sized saucepan and heat to boiling point.

While the milk is heating, soak the gelatine in cold water for five mins.

Pour the hot milk onto the egg yolks, whisking well the whole time. Pour back into the saucepan. Stir the mixture briskly over a medium heat until thickened. A wooden spoon or spatula with a flat edge is best for stirring, a whisk won’t make enough contact with the bottom of the pan, so the mixture would just go lumpy and burnt!

While you are stirring the mixture waiting for it to thicken, add the sheets of gelatine one at a time, stirring until dissolved. When it is nice and thick, pour into the mould/moulds. Allow to cool, then pop in the fridge to set.

To release from the mould, gently lower the mould into a bowl of hot water (do not allow the water to get inside!) keep it there from 30 to 60 seconds. The pudding should fall out when turned upside down over a plate.

I made you a pie…

The problem with pies is getting the first slice out of the dish. The pastry falls to bits as you try to dig it out, then of course (unless you have a super thick filling) the inside comes oozing out to fill the gap.

Individual pies are the way forward folks. The filling stays in the middle and no one can complain that someone else’s bit is bigger than theirs (you know who you are!) They’re easier to make too. Less pastry to handle in one go and no need to blind bake.

Talking of pastry, for a simple rustic fruit pie don’t bother with a sweet or all butter pastry. Half the weight of the flour needs to be fat. I use equal amounts of butter and hard white vegetable fat, though you could use lard. This will give you a lovely crispy pastry with a slight savoury edge that complements a sweet but tart filling nicely.

Finally, the secret of making good pastry? Cold hands!apple pie2

A treacle pudding with actual treacle in it!

It’s cold outside today. While the days are getting longer and spring is on the way, the chill winds, sleet and snow of February make it seem a long way off. A great big helping of steaming hot suet pudding and custard is just the ticket!

To get the perfect taste and texture that will bring memories (the good kind) of Grandmothers and school dinners flooding back, it is essential to use a blend of flour and breadcrumbs (the breadcrumbs give a lighter, looser texture); also you must use at least a little suet. Unless you are vegetarian or have another health condition, don’t bother using vegetable suet. I always used to, having been brought up to believe that fat, especially animal fat, was revolting and evil. One day I was forced through necessity to buy beef suet, only to find that it gives a far superior taste and texture.

Which brings me to the subject of treacle puddings. WHERE’S THE TREACLE PEOPLE? If it ain’t got treacle in it how can it be a treacle pudding? What you have there is a SYRUP pudding, my friend. Tastes may change over the years, and treacle may not be as popular as it used to be, yet put half to one teaspoon of treacle in your tart or pudding and prepare to be blown away by how delicious it is.

A Good Old Fashioned Steamed Treacle Pudding With Treacle in it: Serves 4-6

  • 150g self raising flour
  • 1 medium slice of bread (it will weigh about 45g)
  • 60g butter and 60g suet
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons golden syrup and 2 tsp treacle
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Pinch of salt

Grease a pudding basin. Whizz the bread into crumbs. Mix together the syrup, treacle and 2tbsp of breadcrumbs, put them in the bottom of the basin.

In a large bowl stir together the flour and the rest of breadcrumbs. Rub in the butter. Stir in the suet, salt and sugar.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs and milk. Add to the dry ingredients and stir till combined.

If your pudding basin is a sturdy one with a lid it will be fine as it is, otherwise wrap the basin in baking paper and then foil. Place in a large pan and fill it half way with boiling water. Simmer gently for about 1½ hours. You may need to top up the water from time to time.

Alternatively cook in a roomy slow cooker on high, for 2 to 3 hours. Test it by sticking a skewer in the middle, if it comes out clean the pudding is done. Serve with custard or cream.
Update: These days I prefer to use individual pudding basins, which cook in 40-60 minutes.
It’s common to diss custard powder as “a cheap substitute “. However, it was in fact invented by Alfred Bird in 1837, because his wife was allergic to eggs.
Making real custard with eggs is tricky and liable to go wrong, while custard powder makes a lovely thick, tasty custard that is just right for a hearty pudding. Just promise me you won’t use instant!