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

Ingredients

  • 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.

Method

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.

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!

Image
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.

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!