Blancmange, Food History, Retro Recipes, Vintage Recipes

Cold Cabinet Pudding (1950)

My late grandma. A great cook who taught my mum well.
My late grandma in the 1940s. A great cook who taught my mum well.

My late grandma was a wonderful cook, I am lucky that she taught my mum so well and in-turn these skills have been passed down to me. I consider myself to be a pretty good home cook but my mum is better than me and we often bake together. Although, mum tells me I am bossy in the kitchen which can lead to the odd debate over our differing baking techniques. Mum is always experimenting with new recipes and is a devoted follower of Mary Berry, whom mum claims has never written a bad recipe. Whenever we try a new recipe by her cooking hero, we don’t get told exactly what it is just ‘one of Mary Berry’s chicken recipes’ or simply just ‘a Mary Berry recipe’. Although I think Mary Berry is terrific, my culinary hero is actually Mrs Isabella Beeton (1836-1865).

1950s housewife.
1950s housewife.

This recipe for cold cabinet pudding is from Practical Cookery for All, the 1950 edition. It is compiled and written by Nella Whitfield, Jessie Lindsay, Gweneth Chappel, Lydia Chatterton, Blanche Anding, André Simon and Josephine Terry and is one of my favourite cookery books. Packed full of retro recipes (640 pages of them) as well as colour and black and white photographs. I was drawn to this particular recipe for cold cabinet pudding because it is a moulded dessert which I love recreating.

Cabinet puddings were very popular in the nineteenth century and feature in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. The first known mention of the recipe is in William Kitchiner’s M.D. (1775-1827) The Cook’s Oracle and House Keeper’s Manual published in 1821 which was based upon his earlier cookbook, Apicius Redivivus, or the Cook’s Oracle (1817). Kitchiner describes the recipe as being a ‘Newcastle or Cabinet Pudding’.

The cabinet pudding recipe shown above is from the 1907 edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. The recipe is very easy to recreate. Notice the difference between the two recipes – Mrs Beeton’s version contains eggs for a start. The 1950 pudding recipe has been adapted to suit the ration book Britain housewife. Sugar rationing ended in Britain in September 1953.

Cold Cabinet Pudding (From Practical Cookery for All (1950))

Ingredients: Lemon jelly or lemon curd; glacé fruit or Turkish delight; small 1/2 oz gelatine; 2 tablespoonfuls hot water; 3 sponge cakes; 3/4 pint custard; 4 tablespoonfuls cream or top of milk; sugar (optional); vanilla;     1 oz cherries (optional).

Method: Coat a mould inside with jelly or curd. Decorate with fruit or Turkish delight. Dissolve the gelatine in hot water. Soak the sponge cake in the custard. Add the cream or top of milk, beaten lightly, the sugar, flavouring and the dissolved gelatine. When it begins to thicken, pour into the mould. When set, turn out. Decorate with piped mock cream, chopped jelly and cherries if liked. (For 4 persons).

Mock Cream (From Practical Cookery for All (1950))

Ingredients: 2 teaspoonfuls (rounded) custard powder or cornflour; 1/2 pint milk; 1-2 ozs margarine; 1/2 – 1 oz sugar; flavouring.

Method: Blend the custard powder or cornflour with a little of the cold milk. Heat the rest of the milk in a saucepan. Add it to the custard powder and return to the pan. Boil for a few minutes. Put aside to cool. Cream margarine and sugar together very well. Very gradually beat in the thick custard, add flavouring and continue to beat until creamy. This makes about half a pint of cream similar in texture to whipped cream.

Advertisement from 1950.
Advertisement from 1950.  Note the company disclaimer, bottom left ‘unfortunately supplies are still very limited’. Remember that in 1950 rationing was still in place in Britain.

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