Many years ago, I worked as a waitress in a hotel… at the time it was one of the better hotels in the town, and we, the waiting staff were taught by a very particular maitre d’, who insisted on standards at all time.. which was good! We were proud of what we did and always tried out best to please the guests and the managers of the hotel.
I can’t remember all the items on the menu which we served to the guests, learning how to do silver service and carry lots of plates on one arm, but when we had finished our shift we would eat together, anything left over in the kitchen. Although I’m not usually someone who likes desserts, I did used to eat them there – maybe we had worked very hard and we were young and hungry! My favourite was cabinet pudding, and although I have found recipes for it several times, none of them seemed to be right for what i remember, which was a soft fruity, almost custardy, wobbly dessert…
This weekend we visited friends in their new house; they moved in a few months ago but are still right in the middle of unpacking boxes, having the place renovated and decorated and properly settling in. There was a big pile of books, waiting for a bookcase, and I sat down and looked through them and came across my friend’s mum’s cookery book ‘Good Cookery’ by W. G. R. Francillon and G.T.D.C.S. it was first published in 1920, and as I love old cookery books I sat with it for quite a while, enjoying all the old recipes and cooing advice… and there was cabinet pudding! And not just one recipe but three, the proper one, the economical version, and an alternative! Our friends live a couple of hundred miles away so I couldn’t borrow it, but I took some photos of the book, and various recipes for puddings, including spotted dog, Gretna pudding, college pudding and equality pudding. Obviously I took photos of the cabinet pudding recipes… or so I thought… but no, alas I didn’t!
Cabinet pudding remains an elusive mystery!