It’s summer… we had a lovely blazing hot week or so, a coolish, greyish, windy a bit wet week, and now we’re back to being sunny and gorgeous, but for some reason I keep thinking about English puddings, not light and cool and fruity and creamy, but hot puddings… and I don’t even particularly like them! I guess it came about when I was taking a few minutes away from writing and was looking through an old cookery book as I so often do, and was surprised by the number of hot puddings there were recipes for. I’ve written about them a couple of times recently, and even counted the number of fruit puddings – over one hundred and fifty.

So here I am again, puzzling over the next bit of the novel I’m writing, so pick up Modern Practical Cookery again… and find Spiff Chocolate Pudding… There are plenty of strange pudding in this section – spaghetti pudding? Surprise fruit pudding – the not very exciting surprise is that the fruit is on the inside of the pudding and so concealed beneath the suet and breadcrumb mix… Upstairs pudding – suet pudding and jam – not very exciting…

Spiff chocolate pudding… According to Wikipedia:

A spiff, or spiv is an immediate bonus for a sale. Typically, spiffs are paid, either by a manufacturer or employer, directly to a salesperson for selling a specific product

I don’t think the writers of Modern Practical Cookery mean that… or maybe it’s connected to the word occasionally still used ‘spiffing‘ to mean great, wonderful, marvellous, splendid, especially ‘absolutely spiffing!’ According to another online source, the Oxford dictionaries, ‘late 19th century: perhaps from dialect spiff ‘well dressed’.’

I don’t suppose I’ll ever really know… but here is the recipe, should you be tempted!

Spiff chocolate pudding

  • ½ lb flour
  • 5 oz suet
  • 1 oz cocoa (seems a tiny amount of cocoa – for a chocolate cake it is usually 1 oz of cocoa to 3 oz flour – if I were ever to make this I would use more, maybe 3 oz))
  • a few raisins
  • ¾ pint milk
  • 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 6 oz moist sugar (I have no idea what that is but looking it up I find it is unrefined or partially refined sugar and there seems a suggestion it might be muscovdo)
  • butter for greasing
  1. thickly butter a pudding basin and put the raisins in the bottom “so they form a cap” when the pudding is cooked and turned out
  2. sieve flour and cocoa together, add the suet and mix well
  3. add the sugar and mix well again
  4. in a small pan, bring the milk to the boil, take off the heat and stir in the bicarb
  5. add the milk to the dry mixture and once again, mix well!
  6. pour carefully into the pudding basin, cover with a well-greased paper
  7. steam for 4-5 hours (yes, hours – this seems a ridiculous amount of time, nearly as long for a pudding filled with fruit such as a Christmas pudding – other similar suet recipes are steamed for 2 hours)
  8. serve with chocolate sauce (½ pint milk, 1 dsp cocoa, 1½ tsp cornflour, sugar and vanilla)

 

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