Bread and Butter Pudding

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In cool weather, bread puddings provide an inner furnace. They’re cheap and quick to make and if you don’t finish them, they can be put in the fridge and eaten later. The first recipe (or receipt) comes from The Diary of a Farmer’s Wife by Anne Hughes, dated 25 August 1796. Anne Hughes decided to start a diary to “set down all that I do every day” and so, for 13 months she wrote about her daily life, of the butter maken that sometimes “was longe time cummin” of collecting honey, pudden making, making merrie and all the social activities and hard work that was the lot of a farmer’s wife. This extraordinary document was rediscovered in the 1930s on a farm in Oxfordshire. The spelling is wonderful but not difficult to understand.

BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING WITH PEARS

You doe peel some pares, then putt sum peeces of breade and butter in thee bottom of a deep dyshe, ande laye thee pares on toppe, then more bredde and butter, throwing on sum sugger ande a pinsh of cynamon. Then you doe take 4 eggs and beate them harde for a bitt then putt them in a messure of mylke ande beate uppe till frothie, then poore over thee puddinge in thee dyshe and cooke itt gentlie for an hower bye thee clocke.

Try greasing the dish before you add the mixture. You could put it in the microwave for 20 minutes on low heat but wouldn’t get the crispy top. Apples would substitute for pears.

The second dish is unrecognizable as a bread pudding. It’s rich, spicy, delicious and Mexican. It’s also a very old recipe. The ingredients are local and the same as those used in the 1640s to make bread and cakes. The recipe was recorded by the Holy Office of the Inquisition and saved in the archives.

Generally eaten at Lent, the ingredients symbolise the Passion of Christ. Many Mexican families see the dish as a reminder of the suffering of Christ on Good Friday. The bread is for the Body of Christ, the syrup is his blood, the raisins are the nails of the cross, and the whole cinnamon sticks are the wood of the cross. The melted cheese stands for the Holy Shroud.

CAPIROTADA: MEXICAN BREAD PUDDING

1 cup rich brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon (or sticks)

1 cup water

2 ½ cups French bread cubes (stale is fine)

1 cup raisins or currants

¾ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup diced sharp cheddar

In a large pan combine brown sugar, cinnamon and water. Boil gently until the sugar is dissolved. Add the bread cubes and toss gently. Add raisins or currants, walnuts and cheese, and toss. Turn the mixture into a large greased casserole or baking pan. Bake at 375ºF for 15 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Each cook has a different recipe for Capirotada, so experiment with fennel or cloves, apples or lemon juice, toasted almonds, and goat’s cheese.

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Ice Cream Cone Revolution – Choc Mint Ice Cream Recipe

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It’s hard to imagine a world without takeaway containers, popsicle sticks or ice cream cones because we tend to eat on the run. In fact, the development of ice cream cones took centuries! Iced cream puddings became popular in the late 1700s and wafers of fine flaky biscuit were eaten with or after the pudding as a digestive aid at the end of the meal. Although wafer cornucopias were used to decorate iced pudding dishes, the pudding was not inserted in them.

Iced puddings were popular also in the 1800s but containers were rarely mentioned in cookbooks. Mrs. A.B. Marshall’s Cookery Book, 1888, had a recipe for almond-encrusted cornets filled with cream or “water-ice or set custard of fruits, and served for a dinner, luncheon, or summer dish.” Chef Ranhofer’s book, The Epicurean: A Complete Treatise of Analytical and Practical Studies on the Culinary Art, 1894, had a recipe for “Rolled-Waffle Cornets” and recommended putting flavoured whipped cream in the cornets.

In the streets, Italian immigrants in London may have sold ice cream in cones, but there is no evidence of this practice. Biscuit cup companies became popular at the turn of the 20th century. Antonio Valvona registered the first patent in 1902 in Manchester, England for an “Apparatus for Baking Biscuit Cups for Ice Cream.” We took another step toward the cone.

The ice cream cone was introduced by accident at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers (IAICM) credits Ernest Hamwi with the invention. Pastry-maker Hamwi was selling “zalabia,” a traditional Levantine flat waffle-like pastry sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. His stall happened to be next to an ice cream stand run by 16-year-old Arnold Fomachou. Fomachou ran out of ice cream dishes mid-way through the fair so Hamwi twisted his zalabias into cones and scooped Fomachou’s ice cream into them to serve to the public. They became an instant success. J. P. Heckle approached Hamwi after the fair to buy his waffle machine and ask him to partner in the first ice cream cone company, the Cornucopia Waffle Company. In 1910, Hamwi opened his own company, the Missouri Cone Company. The first US patent was issued in 1924 for a “machine for forming thin, freshly baked wafers while still hot into cone-shaped containers.” We reap the benefits.

 

MINT AND CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

¼ cup sugar

½ cup water

3 large egg yolks

1¼ cups light cream

1¼ cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons crème de menthe

4 squares of dark chocolate, chopped

In a heavy saucepan, dissolve sugar in ½ cup of water. Bring to the boil and boil until 215ºF (102C).

Beat the yolks in a bowl. Slowly pour in the syrup, beating until the mixture becomes thick and light.

In another bowl, whip the creams together until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the yolks with the crème de menthe and chocolate. Pour the mixture into a container, cover and freeze till firm. Before serving, transfer ice cream to the fridge for 30 minutes.

The Proof is in the Summer Pudding

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Summer pudding originated in spas and nursing homes in mid-18th century England, where it was served to patients as an alternative to heavy, fattening puddings made with pastry, suet or butter. It was known as hydropathic pudding but summer pudding was obviously a better name.

Although water spas have always existed, bathing was frowned upon for decades until 1702 when Queen Anne visited the ancient Roman city of Bath. When the fashionable Richard “Beau” Nash arrived in Bath two years later, the new regimen was established. Suddenly the health benefits of drinking water and bathing were all the rage. Bath became the social capital of Britain, attracting the rich and famous over the summer to bathe and drink the water in the pump room, while amusing themselves with gambling and gossiping. The pump room has been seen in many Jane Austen movies.

Diet was an important part of this health-based regimen so the traditional puddings were now frowned upon. It is not known when fresh fruit became part of the mix and scholars argue over when the summer pudding, as we know it, originated.

Before bread had additives to prevent it from drying, summer pudding was a good way to use up stale bread and summer fruit. It’s an old favourite in my family and has the advantage that it can be made any size with any fruit. In late summer, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, black/red currants and gooseberries make a wonderful mixture. Once pitted, cherries, plums and apricots would also work. In winter, use canned fruit and omit the cooking. You can make one large pudding or individual teacup puddings for an event.

Combine a mixture of soft berry fruit (2-3 lb) lightly cooked with sugar in a saucepan (don’t let the fruit lose its shape) or in the microwave.

Cut a loaf of white bread (no crusts), brioche or sponge cake into thick slices. Line a pudding basin with the bread, making sure there are no gaps.

Pour in the fruit and juice but keep back some juice and a few berries for decoration. Cover the pudding with more bread (cut slices to fit). Put a plate on top of the pudding and a weight on top. Leave it in the fridge overnight.

To serve, take the weight and plate off. Put your serving dish on top of the pudding and flip the pudding. Pour over the reserved berries and juice if needed. The pudding usually turns out with a spectacular marbled white and burgundy look. Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or Bird’s custard.

Bird’s Custard is the original version of custard powder, which is cornflour-based and thickens to form a sauce when mixed with milk and heated. Bird’s Custard was formulated in England by Alfred Bird in 1837 because his wife was allergic to eggs, used to thicken traditional custard. He did the world a service because now you can make custard in a matter of minutes. I’m ashamed to say my father and I used to fight over the skin on the top of the jug.

Chocolate Fudge Cake – forget the other stuff

This brilliant cake recipe was given to me by my sister. I have loved her ever since. It is our standard family birthday cake. That’s not my sister up there, they’re just trading cacao beans ready for someone’s birthday cake.

They say:

“There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz; a buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss.” Heartbeats go from 60 to 140 beats per minute, according to a study carried out by Dr. David Lewis of Mind Lab. No wonder the Aztecs thought cacao beans were valuable as currency. A turkey was worth 100 beans and an avocado was a bargain at three beans. Taxes were paid in cacao beans. This is powerful stuff.

Two-thirds of the chocolate people eat today comes from West Africa. The variety of tree is Forastero and originated in the Amazon Basin. In Central America, cacao has been grown and processed for over three millennia but wasn’t available in Europe until the 1500s when it was introduced by the Spanish. The drink was an expensive delicacy for a century until plantations were established in Mesoamerica with an African workforce.

The first chocolate house opened in London in 1657. In 1689, Dr. Hans Sloane invented a milk chocolate drink that was used by apothecaries and later sold to the Cadbury brothers in 1897. The Industrial Revolution stimulated the invention of machines to process chocolate, which made it more accessible. In 1847, Joseph Fry & Son discovered how to make solid chocolate and the chocolate bar was born.

Call it what you like, xocolatl contains alkaloids such as theobromine and phenylethylamine, which affect the body, fight fatigue, raise serotonin levels and even lower blood pressure; dark chocolate may benefit circulation. It may fight cancer, stimulate the brain and reduce coughing. But do we need these reasons to eat it? The most reliable way of absorbing chocolate is by mouth. This cake will increase your heartbeat and give you a buzz you won’t regret.

CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE

1/2 cup (4 oz) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla essence

2/3 cup cocoa

1/2 cup water

2 tsp. vinegar

1 cup milk

1 3/4 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

In a medium or large bowl, melt butter in microwave. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla and beat. In a small bowl, blend cocoa and water. Add to creamed mixture. In 1-cup glass jug, add vinegar to milk to sour. In large glass jug, add flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture with sour milk. Pour into two greased and floured 8-inch (20-centimetre) round cake tins or 9 x 13” (23 x 33 cm) pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool slightly before turning out onto wire rack. Ice with Chocolate Vienna Icing.

CHOCOLATE VIENNA ICING

1/2 cup butter (4 oz)

3 Tbsp. cocoa

3 Tbsp. water

2 1/2 cups icing sugar

1 tsp. vanilla essence

In a medium bowl, melt 1/2 cup butter until creamy. In a small bowl, blend 3 Tbsp. cocoa with 3 Tbsp. water until smooth. Add 2 1/2 cups icing sugar to butter alternately with cocoa mixture. Optional: vanilla essence.