The way we eat now: Victorian puddings return

Hard times have led to a surge in sales of traditional desserts such as spotted dick and Bakewell tart. Genevieve Roberts reports

The cake in Lewis Carroll's 1865 novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was marked in currants with "EAT ME". A century and a half later, we are following in Alice's footsteps, as Victorian desserts experience a remarkable revival.

Menus at restaurants such as at Heston Blumenthal's Dinner and Mark Hix's eateries now feature Victorian favourites blancmange and brown bread ice cream; and supermarkets are seeing an increase in sales of Victorian staples including Bakewell tart, coconut pudding, Eve's pudding and steamed treacle puds.

The trend for Victoriana coincides with the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, who wrote in A Christmas Carol that Mrs Cratchit's plum pudding was declared by her husband to be "the greatest success achieved by Mrs Cratchit since her marriage".

The National Trust has also caught on to the trend for bygone desserts by introducing the lemon-flavoured Winifred pudding at its properties nationwide. The food historian Caroline Yeldham, who worked with the National Trust and breadmakers Allinson to revive Winifred pudding, believes traditional puds are just the thing in uncertain times.

"The Victorian era was a time of boom and bust, of irresponsible bankers and businessmen, as satirised in Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now. What people wanted from their food was comfort, and this is solid, comforting food," she said.

Sales of traditional puddings have increased: at Asda, steamed puddings in jam, coconut and syrup flavours are up 33 per cent year on year, while sponge and currant spotted dick is up 39 per cent on last year, bread and butter pudding up 25 per cent and Bramley apple crumble up 56 per cent. Waitrose has seen similar rises, with Bakewell tart up 43 per cent, treacle tart up 30 per cent and Eve's pudding, made with apple and sponge, up 23 per cent. Rosalynde Kennedy, Asda's cake and dessert buyer, said: "The nation's increased interest in home baking and cookery programmes has reignited our love of retro Victorian pudding classics over more exotic alternatives such as tiramisu."

Ms Yeldham believes the revival stems from a re-examination of overlooked foods and forgotten recipes. Ronnie Murray, group pastry chef at Hix Restaurants, added: "We are going back to old classics, reinventing those and making sure they're done really well." He currently has sea buckthorn blancmange on his menu, and will be bringing back Sussex pond pudding, made with beef suet and whole lemon inside.

Ms Yeldham says many Victorian puddings went out of fashion in the 1920s and 1930s, in part because of the time required to make them. The rise in "modern" desserts such as ice creams matched the increased availability of better refrigerators.

Food tastes also moved away from suet-heavy fare to lighter dishes, although Ms Yeldham insists many were not synonymous with stodge. Winifred pudding is based on a recipe by the Victorian breadmaker and former doctor Thomas Allinson. He was struck off the medical register in 1892 for his radical views as he promoted healthy eating, vegetarianism and the benefits of wholemeal flour in bread.

Winifred pudding has proved so popular with National Trust diners that some properties, including Lanhydrock in Bodmin, will continue to serve it. Melanie Claridge, catering manager at Lanhydrock, said: "Visitors were suitably intrigued, with many asking for the recipe. It's fantastic to make that connection with the history through food but it's not always popular. For example, calves' feet in aspic was the height of fashion in Victorian times, particularly at Lanhydrock, but I'm not sure it would work on the menu today."

   

Winifred Pudding

Thomas Allinson's recipe

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 slice wholemeal batch bread, crusts removed
5 tbsp whole milk
85g (3oz) unsalted butter, softened
85g (3oz) caster sugar
2 medium size eggs
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 tsp lemon flavouring or lemon oil 250g
(9oz) puff pastry, thawed if frozen

To decorate
1 tbsp caster sugar

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180*C/fan oven 160*C/Gas mark 4.

 

1. Lightly butter and flour a 9in (20cm) shallow plate pie dish. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Chill until ready to use

2. Crumble the bread into fine crumbs (if you are not trying to use Victorian cooking methods, use a food processor) and tip into a bowl. Gently warm the milk and pour over the breadcrumbs and allow to stand for 5 minutes until cooled slightly and the breadcrumbs have absorbed the milk

3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until they are pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until they are well incorporated.

 

4. Beat the breadcrumbs mixture with a fork until it is smooth and then stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon oil and pour into the prepared pastry case.

 

5. Bake for 30 minutes until it has risen and is golden. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the caster sugar and bake it for a further 5 minutes - this will give the pudding a crunchy top. Serve warm with pouring cream.

To serve cold:
Mix together 2 tbsp icing sugar and a little water or freshly squeezed lemon juice to make a smooth icing. Drizzle over the pudding and serve.

 

Seabuckthorn blancmange

On the menu at Hix Restaurants

Makes 12 desserts, divide ingredient quantities depending on number required.

This works in two layers - jelly and blancmange.

[Note: Sea buckthorn juice can be exchanged for other fruit purees.]

To make the jelly:

300ml sea buckthorn juice
200ml water
100g caster sugar
3 1/2 leaves of gelatine

 

1. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water.

2. Bring 200ml water and caster sugar to the boil. Remove from the heat, and squeeze out the gelatine leaves into the hot water, and stir.

3. Pour in the juice and pass mixture through a sieve.

4. Pour mixture into the moulds, just covering the bottom.

5. Place in the fridge to set.

To make the blancmange:
6 leaves of gelatine
420ml full fat milk
320ml double cream
520ml sea buckthorn juice
230g caster sugar

1. Soak gelatine in a bowl of cold water.

2. Put milk, cream and sugar into a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, add gelatine and stir.

3. Pass mix through a sieve and into a bowl which is placed over a bowl of ice water to start the chilling process. Keep stirring until almost set.

4. Take moulds out of fridge, and top up with the blancmange.

5. Put back in the fridge over night.

 

 

 

Food historian Caroline Yeldham's Eve's Pudding

This is a simpler version of an 18th century boiled pudding known as the Duke of Cumberland's pudding, which surrounded an apple mixture with a richly egged suet crust and was served with melted butter, wine and sugar.

Ingredients:
2 apples
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Finely grated lemon rind
Water
Icing sugar for topping
75 g self-raising flour
50 g butter
50 g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 375degree F/190 degree C/Gas Mark 5.

2. Butter a 1.5 pint baking dish.

3. Peel, core and slice the apples and lay in the dish. Sprinkle on the sugar, lemon rind and water and set aside.

4. Sift the flour into a separate bowl, add the butter, caster sugar, egg and milk, and beat with a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth cake batter.

5. Pour over the apples and smooth the top.

6. Bake for 35 - 40 mins until golden brown and set. Use a metal skewer to test the apples - they should be soft.

7. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with cream and custard, or with the butter, wine and sugar sauce mentioned below.

 

Coconut Pudding, recipe by Thomas Allinson

 

Ingredients:
10oz fresh grated coconut
8oz Allinson breadcrumbs
4oz stoned muscatels, chopped small
3oz sugar
3 eggs
1 pint milk

 

1. Mix the breadcrumbs, coconut, muscatels, sugar and the butter (oiled).

2. Add the yolks of the eggs, well beaten.

3. Whip the whites of the eggs to a stiff froth and add these to the mixture just before turning the pudding into a buttered pie-dish.

4. Bake until golden

 

 

 

Food historian Caroline Yeldham's Bakewell Pudding (or Tart

Ingredients:
Shortcrust pastry, made using butter and 100gm plain flour
1 tablespoon raspberry jam
25 gm plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
50 g ground almonds
50 g butter
50 g caster sugar
1 egg
Almond essence - optional
Flaked almonds and icing sugar - optional topping

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 400 degree F/200 degree C/Gas Mark 6. Roll out the pastry and line an 8 inch/20 cm tart tin. Spread with the jam and set aside.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder, and mix with the almonds. Cream the butter and caster sugar until light and pale. Beat the egg and almond essence, if using, and beat into the creamed butter and sugar. Fold in the flour and almonds with a metal spoon and spoon over the jam.

3. Sprinkle with the almonds and bake for 30 mins until risen and firm.

4. If you want a version more like the Bakewell ones, or the medieval ones, then leave out the flour and baking powder, and add another egg. You will want a softer set, more like a custard than a cake.

5. This pudding is based on medieval flans or 'flathons' which were a rich egg custard tart, with candied fruit between the pastry and custard. For Lenten days, when eggs were forbidden, a version using almonds and sugar replaced the egg custard. Bakewell puddings are a mixture of the two, with raspberry jam, or strawberry in some of the victorian recipes, replacing the candied fruit.

 

Sussex Pond Pudding

 Recipe from British Food by Mark Hix, published by Quadrille

This unusual pudding is steamed with a whole lemon inside that serves two purposes: one to hold the pudding up and secondly to permeate the rich buttery sauce with a delicate lemony flavour as it cooks. Once the pud is turned out on to the serving dish, it will be sitting in a pond of delicious sweet lemony sauce.

 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
250g (9oz) self-raising flour
125g (4oz) shredded beef suet
150ml (1/4 pint) milk
200g (7oz) soft light brown sugar
300g (11oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 large unwaxed lemon

Method:

1.  Mix the flour and suet together in a bowl, then gradually mix in the milk to form a dough. The dough should be soft but firm enough to roll out.

2. Roll out the dough to a circle large enough to line a 1.5 litre (21/2 pint) pudding basin. Cut a quarter out of the circle for the lid and to ease the lining of the bowl. Butter the pudding basin well, drop the pastry into it and join up the edges where the quarter was removed.

3. Mix the sugar and butter together and put into the lined basin. With a roasting fork or skewer, prick the whole lemon all over as much as you can so that the juices can escape during cooking, then push it into the butter mixture.

4. Remould the pastry for the top and roll it out to the correct size. Lay it on top of the filling and press the edges together to seal in the filling. Cover the top of the basin with a generous piece of foil, making a pleat down the middle to allow for expansion. Secure in place under the rim with string, making a string handle so it can be lifted out easily.

5. Lower the pudding into a pan containing enough boiling water to come about halfway up the side of the basin. Cover and simmer for 4 hours, topping up with more boiling water as necessary.

6. To serve, lift out the basin and allow to stand for about 30 minutes, then remove the foil and loosen the sides with a small sharp knife. Put a deep serving dish over the basin and quickly turn the whole thing upside down – it may collapse a little but the flavour will be incredible.

 

 

 

Apple Charlotte, recipe by Thomas Allinson

Preparation:15 mins
Cooking:35-40
Serves 4

 

Ingredients:
500g Bramley apples
225g Cox or Braeburn apples
50g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)
1 egg yolk
9 slices of Allinson Brown Batch with the Taste of Sourdough
100g soft butter
Fresh cream to serve

Method:

1. Peel, core and slice the apples. Place in a pan with 2 tbsp water and the caster sugar and lemon zest if using. Cover and cook the apples over a medium heat for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally until the stewed, soft and fluffy. Leave to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 200oC, 400oF(180oc Fan) Gas Mark 6. You will need 4 x 300ml ovenproof pudding moulds. Remove the crusts from the bread, draw around and cut out four circles to fit the base and top of the pudding moulds. Cut the remaining bread into 5cm wide fingers.

3. Generously butter the bread on both sides and use it to line the base and sides of the moulds, overlapping the slices and making sure there are no gaps. Press the bread firmly into the sides of the tins.

4. Beat the egg yolk into the apples then spoon into the bread lines cases, top with the remaining circles of bread, press down firmly. Place the puddings in a baking tray and bake for 25-30 mins or until they are golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 mins.

5. Invert the moulds onto four plates and serve hot with the cream poured over.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game