Paradise Pudding with Isabella Beeton

For this, the last Tom Cooks! this side of Christmas, I felt something festive was in order. And following on from Annie Gray on Wednesday I thought something with a bit of history would be appropriate. While Annie did get in touch with me to say that this Christmas she would be having ramen, not pizza, I don't know the lady personally. So reproducing any of her recipes is out of the question. Where then to turn?

To Mrs Beeton, of course. While cynics may say that her career was assisted by having a spouse who was a publisher and magazine editor, I suspect few are aware that it was cut cruelly short - she died aged just 28.  Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management is large legacy for such a short life.

Turn to Puddings and Pastry and a cornucopia of delights (90 pages) awaits. Being seasonal, you will find Baked Plum-Pudding; An Excellent Plum-Pudding; An Unrivalled Plum-Pudding; A Plain Christmas Plum-Pudding for Children; A Pound Plum-Pudding; and, of course Christmas Plum-Pudding (very good).

Sadly, none of these will hold a candle to this column's Best Christmas Pudding Ever so I ignored them. I was, however, much taken by a title on the preceding recipe, Paradise Pudding. That name is akin to calling a meal a Routine Masterpiece. Be able to cook a little, or get out of town. I repeat the recipe verbatim, simply converting to metric measure. Hard to be accurate as to how much a wineglassful was in Victorian Britain. About 112ml in late Victorian times, I think, but might have been smaller.

Mrs Beeton's Paradise Pudding


3 eggs; 3 apples; 112g bread crumbs; 84g sugar; 84g currants; salt and grated nutmeg to taste; rind of ½ lemon; ½ wineglassful of brandy (probably only about 60ml).


Pare, core and mince the apples into small pieces, and mix them with the other dry ingredients; beat up the eggs, moisten the mixture with these, and beat it well; add a little salt and grated nutmeg; stir in the brandy and put the pudding into a buttered mould; tie it down with a cloth, boil for 1½ hours, and serve with a sweet sauce.

As I have no idea what this would have looked like, and can find no images, I give you a picture of her book instead.

Tom Cooks! will return some time in January. I wish you the happiest of festive seasons. Keep cooking and try not to be tempted with foods of the Devil. 

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