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.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Primrose Pudding and Scottish Baps

Primrose Pudding

1 lb potatoes boiled and well mashed
1 lb butter
1 lb white sugar crushed very fine
The yolks of 8 eggs and
The whites of 7.
To be very well mixed before baking.

The name is what drew me to this recipe, especially since Owl Wood and the gardens are full of primroses right now...

On reading through the recipe, I was surprised to find no mention whatsoever of primroses!

It was shocking, though I should be used to it by now, to see how much butter was required, never mind the number of eggs and felt like reducing the amounts, but then the pudding would not be a true Primrose Pudding. 

No way could I justify using such quantities on an experiment, so   I divided the quantities by four (1/4 lb potatoes, etc and 2 eggs) and kept to the same proportions.

No mention of how to mix it, what size dish to use, how to bake it, of course.

I boiled and mashed the potatoes and mixed in the butter while they were still hot.   Then mixed in the sugar and when the mixture was cooler I added the very well beaten eggs.     I baked it in an individual 'casserole' dish at 160 degrees.     After twenty minutes it didn't seem ready so I left it for a further ten.

I tried a spoonful while it was warm - pleasant and fluffy, but far too sweet.

At room temperature the texture had slightly collapsed, more like a heavy cheesecake.

This morning, after a night in the fridge, the texture is leaden and it tastes disgustingly sweet - it will be going out for the hens and the birds.

It is not a pudding I can recommend - unless you want to clog up your arteries and lose your teeth.   Now, pass me a lemon.

Baps a Traditional Scottish Recipe 

Flour, salt, lard, yeast, sugar, milk, water.

Sift a pound of flour into a warm bowl and stir in a small teaspoonful of salt.   Rub in two ounces of lard.   Stir in a sachet of dried yeast and a teaspoonful of sugar.

Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in half a pint of tepid milk and water mix.    Make a soft dough.  Cover, leave to rise for about an hour.

Knead lightly and divide into pieces approximately 3 inches long by two inches wide.   Brush with milk or water and set aside, to prove, for about 15 minutes.

Bake in a hot oven for about 15 -20 minutes.

Recipe adapted from The Scots Kitchen, F Marian McNeill, 1929.

Not the prettiest buns in the world - but I am elated!   

In all the years I have been baking bread, trying to make bread which tasted like the bread my mother used to make, this is the first time I have almost nailed it.

I never use lard in my cooking, but I wanted the taste to be authentic, so I bought a very inexpensive half pound block, a supermarket value one, with apologies to the animals.

My first bite of a bap transported me back through the decades!   They taste exactly like my memory of the bread my mother made.    Hers were a bit lighter and fluffier, but the taste was there.

Regrettably, I think it could be the lard which gave it that particular taste, for my mother would have had no qualms about using it.

I made the baps to go with a pot of soup which I was making from an old recipe.   I'll post about that another day.


  1. We will be visit Scotland for 2 weeks at the end of September. Is it likely we'll see these baps in the stores and restaurants? Sounds delightful with butter and marmalade.

    I think the hens will enjoy their sugary treat today.

  2. Lucky you, Marcia! Have you visited Scotland previously? The end of September should be a beautiful time to see the country.
    Traditionally the baps were served for breakfast, but I'm sure they will be readily available in baker's shops.

  3. Pity about the 8 eggs and pound of butter. Better the birds eat them! The baps look beautiful

  4. Hello Linda, I cut the recipe down to just one quarter of the original ingredients - two eggs and 4 oz butter - all these experiments have taught me to be cautious! The baps, however, were rreally good and very simple to make.

  5. How well I remember Ma diving into tripe, black pudding, white pudding - you name it, all with relish. Well, without relish most of the time, but she certainly enjoyed most things. I shudder to think what a pound of potatoes, a pound of butter and a pound of sugar must have tasted like - ugh, just from the sound of it! You were brave to try...

  6. Hello Ian, I can't resist trying out the unlikeliest recipes although experience has taught me that it is often wise to make a miniature-sized one, just in case.
    These old books are full of savoury dishes which call for 'a freshly killed calves head..' or mutton, beef, and bacon - all for the same soup pot, it was almost as though it was a competition to see just how many animals they could stuff into the same dish. Mum would have enjoyed trying them out but I'll stick to the cakes, puddings, bread and biscuits!
    There's a lovely ginger cake in the pantry - shall I send a slice over?