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When I started this exploration of regional foods, I wanted to mainly do British recipes but every now and again I have to look further afield for inspiration.
The Virginia Apple Pudding is a moist spiced apple cake and is very easy to make. I found several recipes, most of which were adapted from the same source. I made a smaller version, with more cinnamon and a mixture of apple and pear.
- 1 cup of apple/pear mixture, peeled and diced
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup of plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ granulated sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 4 tbs slightly salted butter, melted
- ½ cup of milk
- ½tsp vanilla extract
I followed the original recipe fairly closely: Beat together everything apart from the fruit and cinnamon. Put the last 2 ingredients in a bowl and microwave for a couple of minutes to soften the fruit. Pour the batter into a cake tin then spread the spiced fruit on top.
Bake in the bottom half of a pre-heated oven (gas mark 5) for about half an hour.
After last weeks sago fiasco, this was a lot more successful. The cake was moist, tasty and had just the right amount of spice (I may have mentioned before that I believe most cake recipes under-use cinnamon and tend to increase any quantities given).
I'm not sure which of the many Uptons this recipe came from. There are several in England, including two near where I grew up (Upton-by-Chester and Upton on the Wirral). The only mentions of an Upton Pudding I can find on-line all refer to a pudding shop in Upton upon Severn but nowhere gives a recipe or even a vague description.
The recipe I followed came from Cassells Dictionary of Cookery. Some of the quantities were vague (volume of a teacup? size of a pie dish?) but the cooking instructions were fairly clear.
I bought a packet of 'sago' from the market this morning but when I looked closer, the contents were described as 'tapioca'. There does seem to be a lot of confusion over the two ingredients and they appear to be used interchangeably. It looks like a lot of so-called sago is now made from cassava so is actually tapioca.
My version was made using a measuring cup of sago/tapioca, a mixture of milk and water, a teaspoon of orange zest and three small apples, cored peeled and sliced. I baked it at gas mark 5 for a couple of hours, adding some extra water part way through when it had absorbed everything but the sago was still crunchy.
The flavour and texture were a bit unusual. The orange flavour was fairly prominent but probably needed a bit more sweetness because it didn't quite taste right to me.
When I tried the pudding last night it was still warm. I put the rest in the fridge overnight and tried some more today. The texture hadn't improved and to be honest, I couldn't eat the rest of the bowl. This definitely isn't a recipe to try again. Once was probably too many times.
I hadn't realised that Tunbridge (or Tonbridge) Cakes were almost the same as Goosnargh Cakes until this was brought to my attention by Glyn from the Foods of England website. There are several different versions of the recipe around and I decided to try one from a 1822 book called 'The Cook and Housekeeper's Dictionary' by Mary Eaton. This recipe differs from normal shortbread by having eggs in addition to butter, sugar and flour.
Rub six ounces of butter quite fine into a pound of flour; then mix six ounces of sugar, beat and strain two eggs, and make the whole into a paste. Roll it very thin, and cut it with the top of a glass. Prick the cakes with a fork, and cover them with carraways; or wash them with the white of an egg and dust a little white sugar over.
I followed the recipe fairly closely, keeping the quantites the same. I made some with caraway seeds on top and the rest I sprinkled with caster sugar. I baked them for around 12-15 minutes at gas mark 5.
The plain sugared biscuits were good, very similar to a shortbread but not quite as rich and buttery tasting. The ones with caraway seeds tasted too bitter for my liking. They were better after I had scraped most of the seeds off.
I had some spare bread dough left over after making pizza and I was trying to think of something to do with it. I noticed that I had this in my list of cakes to make so I adapted the recipe from Good Food magazine to make my own version.
I took the dough and kneaded in the butter and brown sugar. When that was smoothly mixed in I kneaded in the fruit, a bit at a time. After leaving it to rise, I baked it at gas mark 4 for nearly an hour.
My version didn't seem to have as much fruit as the original but since I was adding the fruit gradually, I put in as much as I could until it started to fall out when I kneaded the dough.
Quite a lot of the recipes I have done recently seem to be variations on fruit bread. Since the oldest recipes pre-date baking powder, a yeasted dough was probably the easiest way of making a cake and this type of recipe seems to work well when combined with fruit and spices.
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This is another recipe where the original version seems to come from a single source. I originally found this recipe in Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery (1894) and the only other version I could find on-line or in e-books was from a New Zealand newspaper from 1900 which repeated the Cassell's recipe almost verbatim. Sadly I don't have the resources to search through actual vintage cookbooks but I've amassed a reasonable collection of scanned-in or transcribed e-books which I have been regularly consulting.
I have no idea how genuine this recipe is, since Roseneath (or Rosneath) pudding doesn't seem to exist anywhere else but I liked the sound of it so I thought I'd give it a go. Since I intend to revisit some of the alphabet to do some recipes I've missed, I may try another for the letter R, if I can find one with a more authentic heritage.
Take 2 eggs and their weight in flour, butter and sugar. Beat the butter to cream, add the sugar, flour and eggs and any flavouring that may be preferred. Butter some small cups, three-parts fill them with the mixture and bake in a moderate oven. Serve cold, with almonds sliced and cut into strips stuck into the puddings. Time to bake, 15 to 20 minutes. Probable cost, 8d. Sufficient for 3 or 4 persons.
My version of the recipe
- 120g butter
- 120g sugar
- 120g plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
I baked them at gas mark 5 since I didn't know what temperature a 'moderate oven' should be. The two smaller puddings were cooked ok but the larger one was still a bit raw in the middle. A slightly longer time, with the puddings covered in foil to stop the tops burning, might be better.
(The original recipe claims to cost 8d (8 old pence, 8/240 of £1 or about 3p). 8d in 1894 is worth about £3.30 today, according to an online inflation calculator. The modern price for the ingredients comes to only £1.06)
The serving suggestion in the book (almonds sliced and cut into strips stuck into the puddings) is a bit vague. I didn't know if the strips of almonds should be poked in or laid flat. I decided to poke them in, giving the appearance of a standing stones on a hill.
The pudding itself was fairly dense (since it doesn't contain any baking powder and doesn't use any special techniques to lighten the batter). Served with custard, it was a fairly standard, but acceptable, sponge pudding.