This recipe comes from Eliza Acton’s 1845 book Modern Cookery In All Its Branches, my favorite historic cookbook of all time – so far I have made more recipes from this cookbook than any other. In addition to her clear instructions and the fact that she actually lists measurable quantities for each ingredient, I also love Eliza Acton’s cookbook for its literary references. Acton was a published poet as well as a cookbook author, and seems to have been interested in contemporary literature. Some of her recipes, such as Ruth Pinch’s Beef-Steak Pudding, are named after specific characters; others relate more generally to the profession of writing, such as The Author’s Christmas Pudding. This recipe, Miss Bremer’s Pudding, is most likely named after the Swedish author Fredrika Bremer, whose works were popular in England at the time.
Fredrika (also spelled Frederika) Bremer was born in 1801 in Finland (which was ruled by Sweden at the time), then moved to Sweden as a child. She began writing novels in the late 1820s. Although she was already well known in Sweden, she became famous internationally in the 1840s when English translations of her novels were published. Her novels all featured women as central characters, and in her later novels she began to explicitly argue in favor of women’s rights. Her controversial 1854 novel Hertha prompted some legal reforms in women’s favor, as well as the establishment of a school for female teachers.
I haven’t read any of Fredrika Bremer’s novels yet, so I’m not sure if this pudding relates specifically to anything in her work, or if Eliza Acton simply wanted to name something in her honor. Both Acton and Bremer never married and supported themselves through their writing. I like to think that Eliza Acton felt a kinship with her fellow female author; or perhaps she just enjoyed reading Miss Bremer’s novels.
Miss Bremer’s Pudding:
- 1/2 pound ground blanched almonds or almond flour
- 3/4 tsp almond extract
- 5 egg yolks, beaten
- 2 whole eggs, beaten
- 4 oz baker’s sugar
- 4 oz bread crumbs, plus extra for pudding basin
- zest of 1 lemon
- 4 oz butter, melted and then cooled
- apricot jam
- Put the ground almonds or almond flour in a large bowl.
- Gradually add the almond extract, egg yolks, and whole eggs, stirring thoroughly until everything is well-mixed (Eliza Acton says to whisk it, but the mixture was much too thick for my whisk).
- Stir in the sugar, then the breadcrumbs and lemon zest.
- Gradually stir in the melted butter and beat the mixture thoroughly.
- Butter a 1 1/2 pint pudding mold and cover it with breadcrumbs. Fill the pudding basin half-full with the pudding mixture.
- Spread a layer of apricot jam over the pudding mixture. It would probably work best to put the apricot jam just in the middle, with the pudding mixture sealing it in around the sides; otherwise the jam leaks out.
- Fill up the pudding basin with the rest of the pudding mixture.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the basin, butter both sides, and place it on top. Cover it with either a pudding cloth or with foil, making a pleat across the middle to give the pudding room to rise. Tie it tightly around the rim of the basin with string.
- Place a small plate upside-down on the bottom of a large pot of boiling water. Gently lower the pudding in so that it rests on the plate. The water should come about half-way up the pudding basin.
- Return the water to a full boil, then reduce it to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 1/2 hours, topping up the water level with more boiling water if necessary.
- Let the pudding sit in the basin for about 5 minutes, then turn out of the basin on to a plate. Serve with pudding sauce.
Sweet Pudding Sauce:
- thinly cut peel of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 1/2 oz sugar
- 2 oz water
- 1 oz butter
- 3/4 tsp flour
- 3 oz sherry or Madeira
- Cook the lemon peel, sugar, and water over medium low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Remove the lemon peel.
- Add the butter and flour and cook for another minute, whisking constantly to dissolve and break up and lumps of flour.
- Add the sherry or Madeira, cook until it is heated through, then serve.
The almond flour gives this pudding an interesting texture; it is dense, but not too heavy. It is a little bit dry, so it’s best to pour on a lot of pudding sauce and try to get some apricot jam with each spoonful. The apricot and almond flavors are really wonderful together, and work well with the Madeira in the sauce too. It is an extremely sweet and rich pudding, so I served it in very small slices.
My one problem with this recipe was that the apricot jam leaked down the sides of my pudding after I turned it out of the basin. For a neater appearance, if I made this again I would try to seal in the sides of the apricot jam layer with pudding mixture rather than just spreading it straight across the pudding. Of course, once you cut it some of the jam will leak out anyway.
I loved the flavors of this pudding, although it is so rich it’s definitely not something I would want to eat every day. Maybe I will make it again once I get around to reading one of Fredrika Bremer’s novels.
Acton, E. (1845). Modern cookery, in all its branches. London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans. https://archive.org/details/moderncookeryin00actogoog/page/378/mode/2up
Fredrika Bremer. (2006). In Encyclopedia of World Biography Online (Vol. 26). Gale.