I’ve been looking through the old 1936 recipe book, Modern Practical Cookery, and looking at what I think is becoming a rarity on most people’s dinner table, a proper hot dessert or pudding after the main meal. I added up nearly a hundred recipes for hot puddings which had recognisable ingredients, fruit, treacle, chocolate, ginger etc, but there are loads more in the chapter which have names which give nothing away.

Alexandra pudding – what’s that, dried fruit and coloured with ‘a few drops of browning as used for browning gravy‘… that sounds disgusting! Even if I couldn’t taste it I’d know it was there! Arundel pudding? Bread and butter pudding with ‘1 tin of loganberries or any other stewed fruit‘… well, that sounds as if it might be quite nice, but I would be tempted to use fresh fruit! Autumn pudding – blackcurrant jam and Barbados sugar, everyone knows Bakewell, that delicious mixture of jam and almonds in a pastry case, but Balmoral pudding? There are lots of other puddings named after places, Cheshire, Flanders, France, Hawaii, Jersey, Jordan (with Jordanian almonds!) Snowdon, Stockholm and Swedish, Swiss and Dutch puddings and pudding á la Russe.

As you might imagine, as well as there being queen of puddings, there’s a duchess pudding, an empress pudding, a King Edward pudding (surprisingly plain – just vanilla and jam or golden syrup to flavour) and Victoria pudding (raisins, almond essence and 4 penny sponge-cakes)

Many years ago, when I worked in a hotel, the chef made cabinet puddings, and I always hoped they wouldn’t be popular, so there might be one left over for me…

Cabinet Pudding (for 4)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pint milk
  • 2 oz sultanas – in thin strips
  • 2 oz candied peel
  • 2 oz sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup cake crumbs
  • plenty of butter for greasing
  1. beat the egg and sugar together then add the milk
  2. add the zest and pour onto the cake crumbs, leave to soak
  3. well butter a pudding basin, and stick the sultanas and strips of peel to the side in a nice pattern
  4. spoon the eggy cake crumbs very gently into the basin
  5. fold a well-greased grease-proof paper or foil over the top of the basin
  6. steam slowly for about an hour until set

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