Here is a homey pudding (read: dessert) that one may have been served in a middle-class Victorian home at the end of a home-cooked meal — the source for this recipe being an 1896 edition of Mrs. Beeton’s Cookery Book that a friend kindly bestowed on us recently. Chock full of fruit, there is only a wee bit of guilt in consuming this toothsome pud: the ‘sweet sauce’ is made with butter and whole milk, but of course one may stint a bit on said to ease one’s conscience if need be!
For purposes of amusement, we give you the entirety of the text as written in 1896:
Ingredients. — 3 eggs, 3 apples, ¼ lb. breadcrumbs, 3 oz. sugar, 3 oz. currants, salt and grated nutmeg to taste, the rind of ½ lemon, ½ wineglassful brandy.
Mode. — Pare, core, and mince the apples into small pieces, and mix them with the other dry ingredients; beat up the eggs, moisten the mixture with these, and beat well; stir in the brandy, and put the pudding into a buttered mold; tie it down with a cloth, boil for 1½ hour (sic), and serve with sweet sauce.
And now, our translation:
3 medium apples (we used Braeburn)
4 oz. fresh breadcrumbs (we used brioche)
3 oz. golden caster sugar
3 oz. currants
⅛ tsp. each salt and freshly grated nutmeg
finely grated rind of ½ lemon
2 fl. oz. brandy (we used an apple brandy)
sweet sauce, to serve (see below)
Peel, core, and chop the apples finely. Mix with the breadcrumbs, caster sugar, curants, salt, nutmeg, and lemon rind in a bowl. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, then pour over the apple mixture and mix well. Stir in the brandy, and scrape the mixture into a well-buttered pudding mold (an earthenware bowl will do if you don’t have a tin pudding mold.) Cover the top of the mold with parchment and tie down with string if the mold does not have its own lid.
Fill a large lidded pot with water — enough to come halfway up the sides of the mold. Place a small rack (or crumpet rings, or empty tuna fish cans — anything to hold the mold up off of the bottom of the pot) in the bottom of the pot. Bring to the boil and lower the mold into the water. Put the lid on the pot and lower the heat to a simmer. Leave the pudding to steam for 1½ hours, adding hot water from the kettle as necessary to keep the water level about halfway up the sides of the mold. Remove the mold to a wire rack to cool. Serve just warm or at room temperature. Store any leftovers in the fridge.
2 oz. butter (4 tbs.), softened
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
6 fl. oz. milk
1 heaping tbs. confectioner’s sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
Mix the butter and flour smoothly together in a small saucepan, then pour in the milk. Set over a medium-high flame and stir in one direction, letting it boil quickly for a minute or two before removing from the heat. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Serve warm.