Thursday, May 2, 2019

National Trust Book of Puddings - Regula Ysewijn

One of the first cookbooks I ever bought (after Claire Macdonald's 'More Seasonal Cooking', but not long after) was a National Trust publication. I was still at university, and somewhere along the line it disappeared. All I really remember about it now was that the cover had copper pans on it, that it had a good apple cake recipe, and was big on comforting food.

There is nothing more comforting than a pudding, and this pocket sized book capitalises on that. Regular Ysewijn is a pudding expert (her Pride and Pudding book is a magical combination of design and historical research - her photography is stunning - and the whole thing a work of art.) and she was a particularly good choice to write this book. She loves and understands her subject, and doesn't get buried in nostalgia.

That's quite a trick to pull off when you're discussing Spotted Dick, figgy pudding, treacle pudding, cornflake tart, jam roly-poly, and so on. I probably have several recipes for all of those already, and not all of them particularly appeal to me (the figgy pudding does - it would work very well as a Christmas pudding, or for any other wintery dinner party). Jam roly-poly and spotted dick were not parts of my childhood though.

Eve's pudding was - but not this version which suggests using dried barberries soaked in Cointreau (the version I remember from school was nothing much more than an apple sponge - it was good though). I was also momentarily excited by something called a fudge tart. My mother used to make a tart filled with something like fudge and raisins - it's a lost recipe now, we think it might have come from a can of condensed milk. It must have been incredibly unhealthy and was a rare treat, but my god was it was good.

This fudge tart doesn't sound quite like the one I remember and was apparently a school favourite. It does sound good though - but probably best only made for large gatherings and to be eaten in small portions.

I really like the sound of autumn hedgerow pudding for which I would need to make an elderberry jam (I'm here for that), a St George's pudding, Wet Nelly (it's a bread pudding, and I've actually been looking for a good recipe for this for ages), and the Latvian Rye and cranberry trifle amongst others.

Basically these 50 recipes are the perfect mix of antique, familiar, classic, and curious. All the things I would expect and plenty that I did not. Some of them have been tweaked to make them more appealing to contemporary tastes, others (like tipsy pudding) give the opportunity to explore your inner Victorian pastry chef (happily we have more reliable ovens). It's a handy little book to have.


  1. I do enjoy reading about desserts, not so hot on eating them though since I have a savoury palate. I do, though, enjoy steamed pudding with proper custard. Perhaps this will be the year to make some!

    1. My kitchen drain is still out of action, so I'm not doing much more than reading about cooking at the moment, and this little book really cheered me up. It's a nice selection of things, some of them familiar, some not, but most of them things I'd like to eat.

  2. Thank you Hayley! So pleased you like it!