This recipe comes from Catherine Dickens, the wife of Charles Dickens. While her husband is better known for his writing career, Catherine Dickens made her own foray into authorship with the cookbook What Shall We Have for Dinner?. The book was first published sometime before 1851 (the date of the first edition is unknown), and was reissued in several revised editions over the next few years. Catherine published her book under what is probably the best pseudonym ever – Lady Maria Clutterbuck – the name of the character she had portrayed in an amateur theatrical production of the play Used Up.
Catherine Dickens was born Catherine Hogarth on May 19, 1815, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her Scottish heritage is reflected particularly in later editions of her cookbook, which included traditional Scottish dishes such as cock-a-leekie soup and hotch potch. Many of her other recipes were for popular English foods, or for dishes inspired by the Dickens’s travels in France and Italy.
This particular dish, Eve’s Pudding, was popular in both England and the United States at the time; similar recipes appear in many Victorian cookbooks. For Catherine, serving Eve’s Pudding may have given her an opportunity to tell her favorite joke. According to her son Henry, Catherine enjoyed relating “a Scotch woman’s views with regard to the Garden of Eden”: “Someone had been expatiating to her on its beauties when she retorted, in broad Scotch, ‘Eh mon, it would be nae temptation to me to gae rinning aboot a gairden stairk naked ‘ating green apples!'”
Eve’s Pudding (half of original recipe)
- 4 oz bread crumbs
- 4 oz apples, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 oz currants
- 4 oz suet
- 3 oz sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 oz citron and lemon peel
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Add the eggs and mix everything together well.
- Pour mixture into a buttered 1.5-pint pudding basin.
- 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 3 hours, topping up the water level with more boiling water if necessary.
- When done, loosen the sides of the pudding with a knife and turn out of the basin on to a plate to serve.
This reminds me of Christmas Pudding, and shares many of the same ingredients. The proportion of apples in Eve’s Pudding is much higher though (hence the name), which gives this pudding a lighter texture. Although Catherine Dickens doesn’t give a sauce recipe to go along with this pudding, most puddings would have been served with sauces. It would probably go well with the pudding sauces from either Eliza Acton’s Christmas Pudding or Miss Bremer’s Pudding – but I served mine plain and it was still good that way, too. Catherine includes this pudding in several of her Bills of Fare for the winter months, when it would have been a tasty, filling, and economical dessert for when fresh fruit was difficult to come by.
Clutterbuck, Lady Maria [Catherine Dickens]. (1852). What shall we have for dinner? London: Bradbury & Evans. https://www.google.com/books/edition/What_shall_we_have_for_dinner_By_lady_Ma/dT4CAAAAQAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1
Nayder, L. (2011). The other Dickens: A life of Catherine Hogarth. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Rossi-Wilcox, S.M. (2005). Dinner for Dickens: The culinary history of Mrs Charles Dickens’s menu books. Great Britain: Prospect Books.
One thought on “Eve’s Pudding”
Amazing that the book she wrote back then had such a modern title!