Regency Refreshments: Quaking Pudding
I knew I had to make a pudding. It’s such a quintessential English dish (so much so that “pudding” is a modern English synonym for “dessert”) and it’s not something most modern Americans have ever encountered. I’ve only had it because it’s a stable of re-enactments of Victorian Christmases. I did chicken-out and chose one that isn’t make with suet, though (I just couldn’t face a big lump of beef fat, plus I couldn’t seem to find it in a quantity smaller than 5 lbs!)). Quaking Pudding is more like a soft bread pudding, far more palatable in my opinion.
Lobscouse & Spotted Dog: Which It’s a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels by Anne Chotzinoff Grossman and Lisa Grossman Thomas (ISBN: 0393320944) has a recipe for this as well, though theirs calls for a couple of things I couldn’t find in any strictly period versions. The “classic” cook book of the day, Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (from which so many later books stole their recipes), does call for rose water, but none of the recipes I could find call for sherry (though I can see where it would be a tasty edition).
I love Mrs. Beeton’s recipes, as they give exact measurements and easy to follow directions. Unfortunately, her version doesn’t call for bread, and that was an aspect I wanted to preserve (otherwise it’s sort of like a custard, and not so much like a pudding).
So, once again, I monkyed around with things . . .
2 c bread crumbs
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 pint heavy cream
¼ c. sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
zest of 1 lemon
dash of nutmeg
Put a pot of water on to boil (make sure the pot is large enough to easily contain the pudding bowl, and that the water level is about ¾ of the way up the side of your chosen bowl.
Put the cream , cinnamon stick and bay leaf into a pot and heat until the cream is scalded. Remove from heat, pull out the stick and leaf. Temper the eggs by slowly adding about a ¼ c. of the hot milk to them, stirring briskly the whole time. Add the eggs and other ingredients to the hot milk and mix. Pour into a well buttered pudding bowl (any bowl will do, so long as it can be heated). Cover the top with buttered parchment paper. If using an actual pudding mould clip on the lid. If using a plain bowl, secure the parchment with twine or a rubber band. Place a kitchen towel in the bottom of the pot and set the covered bowl carefully into the hot water. Put the lid on the pot and allow the pudding to boil for one hour (you may need to add more hot water at some point so put the kettle on at this point). When the hour is up take the pudding out of the pot and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. Then turn it out carefully onto a platter and serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce of your choice.
I made a simple—and very period—wine sauce:
¼ c. butter
¼ c. sherry
¼ c. sugar
Put all three ingredients into a small pot and cook over medium heat until it just begins to thicken and turn golden (to caramelize). Stir occasionally.
My friends’ reactions:
There was much joy in the house. Everyone loved it. It was soft and flavorful and just plain great tasting. I’ve been requested to make it again (and it will likely show up on a regular basis at my gang’s weekly dinner party).