Quaking pudding

This classic Elizabethan dessert was so called because ‘if it be rite it will shake like jelly’ and was a little like a panna cotta or a bread pudding. The original cooking method sounds quite tricky, as the ingredients were tied in a cloth and then boiled, which could be a recipe for disaster if not done carefully.

The simplest recipe I’ve found is from the eighteenth century (Wellcome Library, MS8001):


Take 8 eggs & 3 or 4 spoonfulls of flower a quart of cream & a little nutmegg & salt sweeten it to your taste butter your cloth & flower it boil it half an hour or more

A slightly more complicated earlier version is Mrs Carr’s from 1682, which gives an idea of how the pudding was served; other recipes specify that the almonds are to make it resemble a hedgehog.


Take a quart of creame 8 eggs a little sack & a litle rose water less then a handfull of flower a little nuttmegg & salt butter the cloath & sprinkle flower on it tye it up & putt it into the pot when it boyleth when you take it out stick it with blanched almonds powre [pour] butter beaten thick with sack in for sauce put some into the pudding before you put it into the pott

One way of dealing with the problem of getting the ingredients into the cloth was to use a dish as well, as in Martha Hodges’ recipe, probably from the late seventeenth century (MS2844):


(Put a little rose water in) Take a pinte of creame and boyle itt and as soone as itt comes of the fire putt in your bread which is in quantity a little above halfe an toppeney loafe sliced very thinne and when the bread is tender putt in your eggs and straine itt all together you must put in foure 5 or 6 egges yolkes and whites and all putt in salt suger and spices according to your tast then take a wooden dish well seasoned you must bee sure yor dish have no crease noe crack in itt butter yor dish a little and tiy itt up in a very thicke cloath and very close that itt may take no water in the boyling lett yor water boyle when you putt in yror pudding keepe the pudding downe ward all the while itt is aboyling if you can you must putt in no suett into this pudding putt in a little butter and suger into yor dish


The cloth itself was coated with a flour and water paste so that it didn’t leak, as explained in this example:


Take a pint of cream or more and 8 egges putting away 2 whites then beat them very well with a little cold cream and take 2 spoonfulls of flower and mix with the cream and put your effs & cream twogether: and season it with a little sugar and rosewater a little grated nutmeg and a litle slat [salt] then put it into your cloth being well wetted and flowerd that it may not run out tye it close and let your water furst boyle then put in your pudding and let it boyle halfe an hour

The recipe stayed broadly similar for at least a century, as indicated in this clipping from the Dundee Courier & Argus of August 3, 1897:


And today Heston Blumenthal serves his own version at the Hinds Head in Bray, the recipe for which can be found here.


Images of manuscript recipes © Wellcome Collection.

3 thoughts on “Quaking pudding

  1. Pingback: History A’la Carte 12-27-12 « Maria Grace

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