This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Friday, 24 February 2017

An Alderman's Pudding

What drew me to try this pudding was the fact that
a) it was written in one of my recipe books and
b)  Eliza Acton had deemed it to be more refined and therefore superior to Bakewell Pudding.

One of my grandsons is rather fond of Bakewell, I had to explore this, put it to the taste test.

I'd also quite like to know why the pudding was named thus.
Here is an Alderman, I borrowed his image.
He was quite a superior Alderman, just as Eliza Acton described the pudding, he was Alderman David Stone.  A Southerner, you will see why I mention that, later!

An Alderman
Image Borrowed from internet.

The recipe according to my book:

Line a dish with thin puff-paste, then put in raspberries, strawberries, or any other rich preserve about half an inch in depth.   Then beat up the yolks of 8 eggs and the whites of 2.   1/2lb sugar and 1/2lb butter melted and clarified.   Beat all well together then add a few drops of almond flavour, pour it on the preserve and bake it in a slow oven for an hour or perhaps less may be sufficient.

Meanwhile, Eliza Acton gives her recipe for Bakewell Pudding (which I haven't tried, but it does look rather different from how I would normally make one) and an observation that Bakewell is a rich and expensive, but not very refined pudding.   A variation of it, known in the south as an Alderman's Pudding, is we think, superior to it....

North/South divide.   Hmmmmn.   Red rag to a bull for this northerner.

I did not use puff paste, we prefer shortcrust.   I also reduced the proportions a by roughly a quarter because it sounded like an awfully big pudding mix.  Of course there was no dish size specified, oven temperature, etc.     Perhaps I am a little crazy, but I really enjoy that freedom.    My brain roamed around the dishes I had to hand and selected a quite deep nine inch enamelled one.   It was guesswork. It fitted perfectly, I'm getting better at this game!

Here it is just before I popped it into the Rayburn.   The oven thermometer read approx 150 degrees.   I baked it for an hour, until it looked and sounded right.

We let it cool quite a lot, but then we could wait no longer.  Time to dive in.

It was very jammy - remember that half inch of preserve?
Remember, too, that there were no breadcrumbs or flour used in the mixture.  

How to describe the taste and texture?   Well, when it was still slightly warm it reminded me of banana fritters, which is very strange because I have not eaten any for almost sixty years.    It was delicious, just unusual.

My husband thought it tasted almost pancake-like and I could see what he meant.

The following day I tried a slice which had been chilled.    It was very nice indeed!   The pastry was crisp, the jam oozed, and the 'fritter/pancake' had subtly changed, although I couldn't explain the taste or texture.

I cajoled my daughter into trying a slice - she enjoyed it and described it as being like a firm egg custard in taste and texture.   She came back for seconds, so I think we can chalk up a success for the experiment.

Still not convinced about the 'superiority' thing though.

It was nothing like a Bakewell Tart!   More refined?  Perhaps.  Different?  Definitely.   Superior?  Never!

ps  Despite this, I would make it again.

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