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.
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!
- 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.