Tag Archives: Gervase Markham

What is a Pudding?: Addendum

Quite a while ago, I wrote a post called ‘What is a Pudding?‘ and it seems I made a few little errors within. I don’t like to be wrong, so thought I would put it right. The subject was a little essay on the origins of puddings – the boiled and steamed kind, which I argued was the proper definition of a pudding. I still don’t think I am wrong on that count, but I did accuse some puddings of being mock puddings:

So, a pudding is any dessert, or the name for the dessert course. Aside from the proper puddings…there are some that go under a false name: bread and butter pudding [and] sticky toffee pudding…are examples of this. Why are these puddings and, say, an apple pie not called an apple pie pudding?

Well it seems that I can answer my own question, at least in part. I was flicking through The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman by Gervase Markham which dates from 1615 (for context King James I of England and VI of Scotland was reigning) and it seems that some of the puddings that are baked today have their roots in the simmering pot. In fact a pair of my favourites – the rice pudding and previously accused bread and butter pudding are specifically mentioned. Their forerunners were cooked in natural intestinal casings – farmes – just like black puddings:

Rice puddings

Take half a pound of rice, and steep it in new milk a whole night, and in the morning drain it, and let the milk drop away; then take a quart of the best, sweetest and thickest cream, and put the rice into it, and boil it a little; then set it to cool an hour or two, and after put in the yolks of half a dozen eggs, a little pepper, cloves, mace, currants,dates, sugar and salt; and having mixed them well together, put in a great store of beef suet well beaten and small shred, and so put it into the farmes…and serve them after a day old.

To make bread puddings

Take the yolks and whites of a dozen or fourteen eggs, and, having beat them very well, put to them the fine powder of cloves, mace, nutmegs, sugar, cinnamon, saffron, and salt; then take the quantity of two loaves of white grated bread, dates (very small shred) and great store of currants, with good plenty either of sheep’s, hog’s or beef suet beaten and cut small; then when all is mixed and stirred well together, and hath stood a while to settle, then fill it into farmes…and in like manner boil them, cook them, and serve them to the table.

I was corrected on the sticky toffee pudding in that post… I wonder how many other puddings that are not boiled today once were? I shall go through the books with a fine-toothed comb and report back. More interestingly, I need to get my hands on some farmes and make these bad boys myself and see how they compare to their modern counterparts…

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