What is Taste of the Past?

Taste of the Past is where I share my love of traditional cookery. Recipes from the days before TV dinners and microwaves right down the ages to the earliest cook books that I can get my hands on. I hope you enjoy my experiments as much as I do. Please share your own ideas, efforts and feedback in the comments.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Apple pudding (1823)

Apple Pudding (Mary Eaton)

Today's experiment started when I got fed up with moving the box of cooking apples around the kitchen every time I needed to get things done.  A few minutes spent browsing the cook book section of Project Gutenberg found a new recipe book I hadn't tried before.  This one is from 1823 and was written by one Mrs. Mary Eaton.  

The introduction makes it quite clear that she is a no nonsense, home cook, much more concerned with economical cooking than in reproducing the food of kings.  In other words, my kind of cook.  Although I haven't got very far through the book I was very impressed with her dictionary lay out that means everything is in alphabetical order.  Anyone who has picked up a facsimile, old cook book will know how delighted I was to be able to briefly scan a list and until I got to apple, instead of scanning every page looking for promising hints or having to get the text into a searchable format.  

I expect to be making many more of her recipes. Although there is a wonderful comment at the start, one that just makes me want to read this from cover to cover.

"The transcriber trusts that the reader will not take any of the advice offered in this text. Clicking on the images of the carving diagrams will take the reader to a larger, if less clean, version."

Lastly, this recipe tasted really nice, a good blend of sour tang, smooth filling and crispy pastry.  I will definitely be trying more of her recipes.


The Cook and Housekeeper's Complete and Universal Dictionary 
Mrs. Mary Eaton
Mrs. Eaton.

Original text
APPLE PUDDING. Butter a baking dish, put in the batter, and the apples whole, without being cut or pared, and bake in a quick oven. If the apples be pared, they will mix with the batter while in the oven, and make the pudding soft. Serve it up with sugar and butter. 

For a superior pudding, grate a pound of pared apples, work it up with six ounces of butter, four eggs, grated lemon peel, a little sugar and[12] brandy. Line the dish with good paste, strew over it bits of candied peel, put in the pudding, and bake it half an hour. A little lemon juice may be added, a spoonful of bread crumbs, or two or three Naples biscuits. 

Another way is, to pare and quarter four large apples, boil them tender, with the rind of a lemon, in so little water that it may be exhausted in the boiling. Beat the apples fine in a mortar, add the crumb of a small roll, four ounces of melted butter, the yolks of five and the whites of three eggs, the juice of half a lemon, and sugar to taste. Beat all together, and lay it in a dish with paste to turn out, after baking.

I decided to try recipe version 3.  Here it is:

  • 1 pack of short crust pastry
  • 4 medium to large cooking apples,
  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • 4 dessert spoons white sugar
  • J
    uice of half a lemon
  • 3 ounces of margarine
  • 4 hand fulls of fresh white bread crumbs

180 degrees C for 30 to 35 minutes.

  • Peel and chop the four cooking apples and stew slowly with a small amount of water.  Cook slowly with a lid on the pan, stirring often.  Apple will stick and burn quite easily.
  • When nearly reduced to mush, stir in the lemon zest.
  • Let this cool while you roll out the pastry and use it to line a deep pie dish.  I blind baked this one for 10 minutes at 180 degrees.  I lined the pie with foil and a layer of dried peas on top to keep the foil in place.  I then took off the baking beans and foil and popped it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the margarine or butter so that it melts in the last of the heat of the apple filling.
  • Then add the sugar, lemon juice and bread crumbs.
  • Taste is now to check on the flavour.  I left it with a slight tang.
  • Then add the eggs one at a time and stir each one in really well.  You don't want the eggs to curdle in the lemon juice or cook if the apple is still too hot.
  • Pour the apple filling into the pie crust and decorate with any left over pastry.
  • Brush raw egg or milk or both on the top of any pastry decorations.
  • Bake at 180 degrees C for 25 to 35 minutes.  Check after 20 minutes and then keep an eye on it.
  • Serve warm or cold.

This is essentially a pudding so it has a loose texture, almost like baked custard.  The one item here that is hard to get right for certain is the amount of bread crumbs needed.  A small roll was probably the same size as we are used to, but I can't say for sure.  I used half a stottie as that is what I happened to have in.

The other issue is how fresh this bread should be.  I used fresh because that is what I had but I suspect that is should have been dry bread crumbs.  Adding dry crumbs would have changed the texture a little.  It would have been possible to get the bread crumbs much finer as well which would have given the final pie a smoother texture.

Lastly, the flavour.  It is tempting to reach for the cinnamon when you cook apples but the lemon flavour really worked well.  The tang of the lemon and cooking apples worked really well together and for a pie this size, easily 10 portions, 4 tablespoons of sugar is not much at all.  My family loved it.

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