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Baked Apple Pudding

I am glad the new cook begins so well. Good Apple Pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.
Jane to Cassandra
17 October, 1815

In 1660 Robert May published The Accomplisht Cook, which became the most important cook book of it’s time. Robert was a professional chef who had trained in Paris. Catering to the aristocracy, he introduced many new recipes at a time when English cuisine was just beginning to borrow from the French.

One of his recipes, A Made Dish of Butter and Eggs, was gradually modified (the original called for 24 egg yolks!) into Marlborough Pie (or Marlborough Pudding), and taken to the new world by the pilgrims. This recipe soon became a Thanksgiving favorite and remains so, to this day. Martha Lloyd, Jane Austen’s Sister in-law , kept a similar recipe in her Household Book.

A Baked Apple Pudding (with Pastry)
Take a dozen of pippens, pulp them through your cullender, take six eggs, sugar enough to make sweet, the rind of two lemons grated, a 1/4 of a lb of butter (melted with flour or water). Squeeze the juice of the two lemons, let the apples be cold before the ingredients are put together. Make a puff paste in the bottom of the dish, half an hour bakes it.

Martha Lloyd’s Household Book

Marlborough Pie
1 1/2 cup applesauce
3 Tbs. butter, melted
1 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon rind, grated
4 eggs, slightly beaten

Blend all ingredients thoroughly and pour into an unbaked pie shell.

Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees.

Reduce heat to 275 degrees and bake another hour until consistency of custard.

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An Attempt at Rout Cakes


Every body in and about Highbury who had ever visited Mr. Elton, was disposed to pay him attention on his marriage. Dinner-parties and evening-parties were made for him and his lady; and invitations flowed in so fast that she had soon the pleasure of apprehending they were never to have a disengaged day…No invitation came amiss to her. Her Bath habits made evening-parties perfectly natural to her, and Maple Grove had given her a taste for dinners. She was a little shocked at the want of two drawing rooms, at the poor attempt at rout-cakes, and there being no ice in the Highbury card parties. Mrs. Bates, Mrs. Perry, Mrs. Goddard and others, were a good deal behind hand in knowledge of the world, but she would soon shew them how every thing ought to be arranged.


During the Regency evening parties were much the rage. The word rout, synonymous with large unruly gatherings, soon came to mean a fashionable assembly, or large evening party. Mrs. Elton, with all her Bath society ways, was quite pleased to find that, though country parties might be smaller (Recall Mrs Bennet’s four and twenty families), they were no less frequent.

Just as Afternoon Tea had it’s own rituals and recipes, Routs could be counted on to supply a few favorites. Rout Cake, a kind of rich sweet cake flavored with fruit, was created especially for the occasion. To create your own, try one of the following recipes.

Mix two pounds of flour, one ditto butter, one ditto sugar, one ditto currents, clean and dry; then wet into a stiff paste, with 2 eggs, a large spoonful of orange-flower water, ditto sweet wine, ditto brandy, drop on a tin-plate floured: a very short time bakes them.

Rout Cakes
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
4 Tbsp butter, softened
1/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 small egg
½ tsp orange juice
½ tsp rose-water
1 tsp sweet white wine or sherry
1 tsp brandy
¼ cup currants

  • Set the oven to heat to 350.
  • Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.
  • Work in the butter to make a crumbly mixture, then add the sugar.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg until liquid.
  • Add the juice, rosewater, wine or sherry, and brandy. Stir well.
  • Then mix the liquids by degrees into the dry goods, to obtain a smooth dough.
  • Lastly mix in the fruit.
  • Put the cake mixture in small, neat heaps (3/4″ across) on a lightly greased baking-sheet.
  • Bake in the oven for 16-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 16-20

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A Pudding by Any other Name

‘Bless me,’ cried Jack, with a loving look at its glistening, faintly translucent sides, ‘a spotted dog!’
The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brien

Spotted Dick, ever a favorite pudding through the years, has as much a spotted history as complexion. As for the name, it’s a case of the chicken and the egg. Known to have been served in Britain for over 200 years, this sweet cakey, currenty treat was a favorite of Captin Jack Aubrey, hero of the Patrick O’Brien novels. Legends trace it back to England, and even Ireland (where it is called Sweet Cake, Curnie Cake or Railway Cake). As old as Christmas Pudding, itself, one has to wonder, where did the name come from?

Is it, as someone has suggested, a derivation of Spotted Pudding? That theory holds that “Pudding” was shortened to “Puddink”, from there to “Puddick” and then just “Dick.” Other histories call it Spotted Dog, and while this may be editing on behalf of good taste, it makes sense. The Dalmation Club of America states that:

The [Dalmation’s] first case of public popularity occurred in England [in the 18th century]. It is suggested that having been brought by gypsies and used as clowns, performers, guardians and companions, the public recognized the intelligence of the breed and became an instant hit with all who saw them. Through the years the Dalmatian has had many nicknames among the British people. A few of these are the English Coach Dog, the Plum Pudding Dog, the Fire House Dog, and even the Spotted Dick.

Was the pudding named for the its resemblance to the Dog, spots and all? Was the dog named for the pudding? We may never know, but it seems that their histories are somehow intertwined.

Whatever the case, this pudding is a delicious treat, perfect for a cold winter’s day.

Spotted Dick

  • 8 ounces flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 2 ounces sugar
  • 4 ounces raisins or dried currants
  • 6 tablespoons water

Mix together flour and salt, then blend in the butter.

Add sugar and raisins and mix thoroughly.

Roll into a log or ball.

Grease some aluminum  foil and seal it around the roll.

Roll into a steamer and steam for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with powdered sugar, butter or custard sauce.

Ready to serve puddings and instant mixes are also available in some areas.

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Sugar Cookies

Is there any food more reminiscent of childhood than a plate of cookies and a glass of milk? Long before Tollhouse began experimenting with chocolate chips, sugar cookies had been a staple in historical kitchens. Martha Washington was married to George Washington, the first President of the United States. The following recipe is taken from her household book of recipes, collected throughout her life.

 To Make Sugar Cakes
Take 3 ale quarts of fine flowre, & put to it a pound of sugar, beaten & searced; 4 youlks of eggs, strayned thorugh a fine cloth with 12 or 13 spoonfulls of good thick cream; & 5 or 6 spoonfulls of rose water; A pound & a quaeter of butter, washt in rose water & broaken in cold, in bits. knead all these ingredients well together . after, let it ly A while, covered well, to rise. then roule them out & cut them with a glass, & put them on plates (a little buttered) in an oven gently heat. all these kinde of things are best when ye sugar & flower are dryed in an oven before you use ym.

This modernized recipe, claimed to have been served by Dolley Madison to her husband, President James Madison, is a little easier to follow:

Sugar Cookies
2 cups butter
¾ cup milk
4 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
10 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
10 egg whites, beaten
Flour to suit

Cream butter and sugar in large wooden mixing bowl. Stir in custard-like egg yolks. Follow this by lightly stirring in stiffly beaten egg whites. Add milk. Dissolve baking soda in a little boiling water and blend with other ingredients. Lastly add cinnamon and blend. If dough is not the right consistency to roll out, work in more flour as needed. When ready, place dough on floured board. Roll out into thin sheet about 1/4 inches or less thick Cut cookies in any desired shapes Place on shallow buttered baking sheets Sprinkle sugar over them prior to putting in moderately quick oven (375 degrees) for 10 to 12 minutes or until done. Makes about 6 dozen.

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‘To Make a Tart of ‘Parsneps & Scyrrets’

The parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a root vegetable related to the carrot. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler and have a stronger flavor. Like carrots, parsnips are native to Eurasia and have been eaten there since ancient times. Zohary and Hopf note that the archeological evidence for the cultivation of the parsnip is “still rather limited”, and that Greek and Roman literary sources are a major source about its early use, but warn “there are some difficulties in distinguishing between parsnip and carrot in classical writings since both vegetables seem to have been sometimes called pastinaca yet each vegetable appears to be well under cultivation in Roman times.”

Until the potato arrived from the New World, its place in dishes was occupied by the parsnip. Parsnips can be boiled, roasted or used in stews, soups and casseroles. In some cases, the parsnip is boiled and the solid portions are removed from the soup or stew, leaving behind a more subtle flavor than the whole root and contributing starch to thicken the dish. Roasted parsnip is considered an essential part of Christmas dinner in some parts of the English speaking world and, in the north of England, frequently features alongside roast potatoes in the traditional Sunday Roast.

February is the traditional month in which to plant parsnips. Parsnips are a vegetable that have been grown, in their present form, for hundreds of years. They are tougher and less prone to pests and diseases than the majority of the vegetables that we now grow in our gardens.

The reason for planting parsnips early, is that this allow them a long growing season in which to get as large as possible: it is quite common to get parsnips over 18 inches long and weighing more than 2 lb (1 kg).*

To Make a Tart of Parsneps & Scyrrets
Seeth yr roots in water & wine, then pill them & beat them in a morter, with raw eggs & grated bread. bedew them often with rose water & wine, then streyne them & put sugar to them & some juice of leamons, & put it into yr crust; & when yr tart is bakes, cut it up & butter it hot, or you may put some butter into it, when you set it into yr oven, & eat it cold. Ye juice of leamon you may eyther put in or leave out at yr pleasure.
From Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery

Though at first the instructions for this pie seem strange, a closer examination reveals a recipe quite similar to modern pumpkin pie with wine replacing the milk used in the latter. The skirret is a perennial plant sometimes grown as a root vegetable. It has a cluster of sweet, bright white roots which are similar to sweet potatoes, but longer (15-20 cm). Skirrets may be boiled, stewed, or roasted. It was thought in early times to be an aphrodisiac. Some later recipes suggest replacing them with carrots if unavailable.

A modern variation of this pie uses only parsnips, along wiht 4 eggs (for four cups of pulp), one cup of wine, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, sugar and rose water to taste. Most pumpkin pie recipes call for 3/4 cup sugar though parsnips and carrots are generally sweeter than pumpkin. Add one to two tablespoons of butter. Pour into pastry-lined pie pan and bake at 400° for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350° and bake about 35 minutes longer, or until center is set.

Historical information from Wikipedia the online encyclopedia as well as Jamboree: The Young People’s Real Education Website.

Recipe suggestions by Karen Hess, from Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery.

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Christmas Fruit Cake

Do you recollect whether the Manydown family sent about their wedding cake? Mrs. Dundas has set her heart upon having a piece from her friend Catherine, and Martha, who knows what importance she attaches to this sort of thing, is anxious for the sake of both that there should not be a disappointment0.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
Castle Square: Friday, October 7, 1808

Fruitcake is a cake made with chopped candied and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices, and optionally soaked in spirits. In the United Kingdom certain rich versions may be iced and decorated. Fruitcakes are often served in the celebration of weddings and Christmas.

The earliest recipe from ancient Rome lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed into barley mash.

In the Middle Ages, honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added and the name fruitcake was first used, from a combination of the Latin fructus, and French frui or frug.

Starting in the 16th century, inexpensive sugar from the American Colonies, and the discovery that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits, created an excess of candied fruit, thus making fruitcakes more affordable and popular

In the 18th century, Europeans were baking fruitcakes using nuts from the harvest for good luck in the following year. The cake was saved and eaten before the harvest of the next year, so it was about a year old when eaten. Fruitcakes proliferated until a law restricted them to Christmas, weddings, and a few other holidays because they were considered “sinfully” rich. Even so, the fruitcake remained popular at Victorian Teas in England throughout the 19th century.

In the UK, fruitcakes come in many varieties, from extremely light to those that are far moister and richer than their American counterparts, and remain extremely popular. The traditional Christmas cake is a fruitcake covered in marzipan, and then in white satin or royal icing. They are often further decorated with snow scenes, holly leaves and berries (real or artificial), or tiny decorative robins or snowmen.

These are Christmas or ‘Plumb’ cakes, some old and new recipes to be tried. Of course they are best cooked weeks in advance of Christmas and allowed to age – but putting them in the freezer for a few days is also supposed to work wonders for rich cakes – so that is something – just don’t let water drip on them.

Photograph by Kleiner Rotwein-Gugelhupf, 20 April 2010

A Plumb Cake
Take 6 pd of currants 5 pd. of flower an ounce of cloves & mace a little cinnamon 1/2 an ounce of nutmegs 1/2 a pd. of pounded & blanced almonds 1/2 a pd. of slic’d citron lemon & orange piele 1/2 a pt. of sack a little Rong water a qt. of good ale yest a qt. of Cream & a pd. and half of butter milke there in mix it well together on a board lay before the fire to rise yen work it up smooth put in an hoop with a paper flowered at ye bottom.

The Icing
Beat & sift a pd of doubt icsing sugar & put to it ye whites of 4 eggs put in but one at a time beat them in a bason with a silver spoon till tis very leight & white.
Source unknown

Christmas Fruit Cake
(a modern variety and very rich)

1/8 cup chopped dried cherries
1/8 cup chopped dried mango
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup currants
2 tablespoons chopped candied citron
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup rum
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
8 tablespoons butter

  1. Soak dried fruit in 1/4 cup rum for at least 24 hours. Cover tightly, and store at room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Butter and line with parchment paper a 6 inch round pan.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour in three batches, alternating with the milk and molasses. Stir in the fruit/ rum mixture and nuts.
  5. Scrape batter into prepared pan,and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, anjd then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons rum.
  6. Place a piece of parchment paper, large enough to wrap entire cake, on a flat surface. Moisten a piece of cheesecloth, large enough to wrap the cake, with 1 tablespoon rum. Place the cheesecloth on top of the parchment paper, and unmold the cake on top of it. Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the remaining rum. Wrap the cake, pressing the cheesecloth closely to the surface of the cake. Place the cake in an airtight tin, and let age for at least 10 weeks. If storing longer, douse with additional rum for every 10 weeks of storage.Marzipan icing can be made or bought.

Historical information supplied by Wikipedia. Recipes from Anne Woodley.

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Naples Bisket or Sponge Cake

“You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me.”
Jane Austen to Cassandra
Godmersham: Wednesday, June 15, 1808

During the renaissance, Italian cooks became famous for their baking skills and were hired by households in both England and France. The new items that they introduced were called “biscuits,” though they were the forerunner of what we now consider to be sponge cake. The earliest sponge cake recipe in English was recorded by Gervase Markham in 1615. These sponge cakes weren’t exactly your Betty Crocker behemoths, though – they were most likely thin, crisp cakes, more like modern cookies. Macaroons were developed during this period, as were spiced buns such as the Easter staple, hot cross buns.

Recette pour la Madeleine, by MairieSY, September 19, 2003

By the middle of the 18th century, yeast had fallen into disuse as a raising agent for cakes in favor of beaten eggs. The cooks of the day must have had arm muscles like Schwarzenegger – it takes an awful lot of beating by hand to do what we can accomplish in a few minutes with an electric mixer! Once as much air as possible had been beaten in, the mixture would be poured into molds, often elaborate creations, but sometimes as simple as two tin hoops, set on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. It is from these cake hoops that our modern cake pans developed.

Amazingly, it seems that the idea of cake as a dessert was particularly late in coming. Initially, they were served as a snack with sweet wine, much as madeira cake still is. Large, elaborate cakes would often be made as part of the display for banquets, but these were rarely eaten. The style of eating since the Middle Ages had required a selection of dishes to be on the table all at the same time. These would be removed and replaced with another vast array, but in the mid-nineteenth century the fashion changed and Service à la Russe became all the rage. Now the meal was served by servants, bringing diners individual dishes (similar to modern restaurant service), and while such a performance wasn’t within the reach of most people, it did result in a feature that everyone could enjoy – the dessert course. Now the decorated cake that we all know and love finally put in its appearance.

Sponge cakes are leavened by whipping eggs (whole, yolks only or whites only) with sugar. Whipping air into the mixture is what makes them light. When baked, the air bubbles expand from the heat of the oven and the cake rises.

Among the more popular Sponge cake types are the European styled Biscuit and Genoise, which more often than not are moistened with syrups because of their tendency to be somewhat dry. The right amount of syrup results in soft and tender crumbs, too little can render the cakes dry or tasteless, while too much produces soggy units. Hardcore European versions have liqueur as part of their syrupy additives, resulting in notably enhanced flavors. In both the Genoise and Biscuit, cornstarch replaces some of the flour, causing the cake to be tighter. Superfine sugar is recommended to achieve an extra fine texture.

Naples Biskets use the same batter, but are poured into shaped pans (you can use Madeleine tins) and baked as tiny cakes or cookies.

Naples Biskets
Take 3 Egs both Yolkes & Whites, & beat them in a bason, or wooden Bowle a quarter of an hour, then put to them halfe a pound of Sugar, & beat them together as long againe, ghen put to them 6 Ounces of fine flower & a graine or 2 of muske, being steeped in a spoonfull or two of Rosewater, & bat them well together while your Oven is a heating, & when it is as hot as for Manchett, butter your pans, & put your bread into thme & bakce it, & dry it, & keep it for your Use.
Period recipe, 1698

A modern recipe for Naples Biskets can be found here.

Portions of this article were reprinted with permission from the Medidrome article: The Peerless Cake Baker: The Surprising History of The Cake, by Helen Stringer.

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Mr. Woodhouse’s Thin Gruel

The gruel came and supplied a great deal to be said — much praise and many comments — undoubting decision of its wholesomeness for every constitution, and pretty severe Philippics upon the many houses where it was never met with tolerable; — but, unfortunately, among the failures which the daughter had to instance, the most recent, and therefore most prominent, was in her own cook at South End, a young woman hired for the time, who never had been able to understand what she meant by a basin of nice smooth gruel, thin, but not too thin.

Of all Jane Austen’s hypochrondriacs, perhaps her most endearing is Mr. Woodhouse. Afraid of germs, draughts, too rich food and all manner of nervous complaints brought on by change, he forces himself, and often those around him, to live on a diet of plain foods:

“My poor dear Isabella,” said he, fondly taking her hand, and interrupting, for a few moments, her busy labours for some one of her five children — “How long it is, how terribly long since you were here! And how tired you must be after your journey! You must go to bed early, my dear — and I recommend a little gruel to you before you go. — You and I will have a nice basin of gruel together. My dear Emma, suppose we all have a little gruel.”

Emma could not suppose any such thing, knowing as she did, that both the Mr Knightleys were as unpersuadable on that article as herself; — and two basins only were ordered.

Gruel was, by nature, a dish reserved for the very poor, who could afford nothing else, and invalids, who could tolerate nothing else. A type of thin porridge, it is made of oats stewed with either milk or water, and is served with salt or sugar and milk.

The first evidence for dishes resembling porridge is prehistoric. Neolithic farmers cultivated oats along with other crops. Various types of grains and grain meals could be stewed in water to form a thick porridge-like dish. Anglo Saxon sources describe “briw” or “brewit” made from rye meal, barley meal or oats served plain or with vegetables in. There are also references to some types of porridges being fermented.

Porridges and gruels were an easy way to cook grains. The grain only had to be cracked, not completely ground into flour. It could be cooked very simply in a pot at the edge of a fire. Bread required an oven to cook in. It formed a basis for many dishes, both sweet and savoury. It was served with meat, stock or fat, as well as with vegetables, fruits, honey or spices. It could be allowed to cool and set in a “porridge drawer”, and could then be sliced to be eaten cold or even fried.

Eighteenth Century cookbooks such as Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy, 1747, give recipes for “Water Gruel” made of oatmeal and water, and flavoured with butter and pepper. It might be served with wine sauce, sherry and dried fruits by rich people, whereas the poor ate the dish on its own. It could be served with any meal at any time of the day. Sugar only became widely available in Britain in the Eighteenth Century, so it was probably not used on porridge before then.

Oliver Twist As a inexpensive dish, Gruel or Porridge became the meal of choice served at workhouses around the nation in the early to mid 1800’s. In 1837, Charles Dickens sarcastically wrote “…that all poor people should have the alternative of being starved by a gradual process in the [work] house, or by a quick one out of it. With this view, they contracted with the water-works to lay on an unlimited supply of water, and with a corn-factory (grain processor) to supply periodically small quantities of oatmeal, and issued three meals of thin gruel a day….”* Who can forget the image of young Oliver Twist asking, “Please sir, may I have some more?”

This is not to say that all porridges were reserved for the indigent. Oats were a kitchen staple at the time for every household and many richer versions found their way on the tables of the wealthy as well as the working class.These dishes included plumb porridge or barley gruel, made from barley and water, with dried fruit added. Burstin was made by roasting hulled barley grains and then grinding them, it could then be served with milk Frumenty was hulled wheat cooked with milk, cream and eggs and flavoured with spices. SUrely Mr. Woodhouse would have been shocked at such profligacy!

To Make Water-Gruel
You must take a pint of water and a large spoonful of oatmeal; then stir it together and let it boil up three or four times, stirring it often; do not let it boil over; then strain it through a sieve, salt it to your palate, put in a good piece of fresh butter, brew it with a spoon til the butter is all melted, then it will be fine and smooth, and very good: som love a little pepper in it.
The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1796

Recipe for Oatmeal Gruel
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 pint water
1 pint or more hot milk
1¼ teaspoons salt

Add the salt to the water, and bring to a boil in the inner cup of a double boiler. Stir in the rolled oats. Boil over the fire two or three minutes, then set the inner cup in the outer cup of the double boiler which contains boiling water, and continue the cooking for three hours or longer. Then rub the oatmeal through a strainer. Add hot milk to make of the proper consistency for gruel.

Barley gruel, cornmeal gruel, or rice gruel may be made by the same recipe, using one-third cup pearl barley, one-fourth cup cornmeal, or one-fourth cup rice, instead of the rolled oats. And in making cornmeal or rice gruel one hour’s cooking of the cereal is sufficient. It may be necessary to cook the barley four or five hours.

It may sometimes be desirable to make the gruel entirely of water.

Portions of this article are quoted from Nicky Saunder’s article, “The History of Cooking: Porridge”. Many thanks to Lothene: Experimental Archeology for their kind permission to reprint.

*Oliver Twist, Chapter 2

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