For some reason, I can’t seem to stop looking at, and comparing,
historic receipts (recipes) for carrot puddings. I think it’s the thrill
of the hunt. Or maybe it’s the numerous versions I’ve found. Or
perhaps it’s all the different directions each one takes me. And
then there are all the unanswered questions. Maybe it’s all of
the above! Whatever it is, it’s become a bit of an obsession.
In keeping with this carrot pudding theme, I thought I’d take
a look at a few of the receipts I found in select manuscript
cookbooks of the 18th and early 19th centuries.
First up is one from the receipt book of the Ashfield Family
of New York City and New Jersey. It was kept by the family
from the 1720s through the Revolutionary War period:
67. To Make a Carrot Pudding
Take a quart of milk and Scald it, and
Cut a towpenney [sic] white loaf in Slices.
Soak it in your milk. Great [grate]
in a whole Nutmegg, and 2 Midling
Carrots very fine. Put in a Little Salt
and the yolks of 6 Eggs and the whites
of 2 well beaten. Sweeten it to your
taste. Then make a Little fine paste
and twist it round the edge of your
dish and put in your pudding. Pour
over it half a pound of melted butter.
So bake it. When it comes out the oven,
Strew it with fine Suggar and Serve it up hot.
Of course, there are similarities between the above and the one
from Peckham’s book that we used during the Fort Lee bake oven
workshop, but there are also several differences, even within those
similarities: the amount of milk is specified; a twopenny (“towpenny”)
instead of one penny loaf is used (although, depending on the price
of grain on any given day, it’s possible they could’ve been nearly the
same size); there’s no orange flower water; the use of a whole nutmeg,
as opposed to just half; the butter, though melted, is not clarified (but
it may have been presumed that any melted butter was also clarified);
and, again, as with the Kidder receipt that I used at The Conference
House, it calls for separate yolks and whites, rather than whole eggs.
Another aspect is that the two receipts (Ashfield and Peckham’s) are,
in a way, of British origin. The latter is from a cookbook published
in England, and the former is from a manuscript kept by a family
living in a British colony. Which makes me wonder: Was the Ashfield
receipt taken directly from Peckham’s book and then maybe altered?
Was it even based on it in any way? The Ashfields lived first in New
York City and then New Jersey, so goods from abroad were accessible,
including books published in England. Or did it come to the Ashfields
via someone else who had seen the British book? Someone else who
possibly changed sections? Or perhaps mis-copied or even mis-read
a sentence or two? Or maybe it’s source is an entirely different book?
Or…who knows? Oh, the questions are endless!
Here’s another manuscript receipt, with perhaps a more Southern take,
as the writer lived in the lowlands of South Carolina. It’s from Harriott
Pinckney Horry’s (1748-1830) personal receipt book, which she began
keeping in 1770:
Take a large Carrot, boil it Tender
then set it by to be cold and grate
it through a hair sieve very fine,
then put in half a pound of melted
Butter beaten with Eight Eggs leaving
out half the Whites, two or three
Spoonfulls of Sack and Orange
flower Water, half a pint of good
thick cream, a little grated Bread,
a Nutmeg and a little salt, sweeten
it to your tast, and make it of the
thickness of an Orange Pudding.
Again, there are similarities and differences between the above
and the others (Peckham’s and Kidder’s). First, a major difference
amongst all these is that, thusfar, Kidder’s is the only one that calls
for Naples Biskets. I wonder if that fact says something, perhaps,
about Kidder himself and his profession? After all, he was a baker
and pastry maker by trade. Another difference is that the above
calls for only one carrot, not two; but then, it does specify one
“large.” In many other ways, however, the Horry manuscript version
is most similar to Kidder’s: the carrot is to be boiled and strained;
sack and Orange flower water are used; there’s a pint of cream;
and the eggs are separated. However, the butter is again melted,
and a nutmeg is used. I found it interesting, too, that nutmeg is
used in all the receipts we’ve looked at so far, except for Kidder’s.
What’s up with that?! Perhaps he just didn’t care for the taste?
Maybe he felt it wasn’t something he needed to specify? Or
perhaps he was leaving the spice choice up to the cook?
So, as I said previously, there certainly are alot of carrot pudding
receipts in historic cookbooks. They’re all pretty much the same,
and yet, they’re all a bit different. Hmmm…what else is out there?!
Stay tuned, there’s more.
1.) The Ashfield Family Receipt Book was published as Pleasures of Colonial Cooking,
by the New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, NJ, 1982.
2.) The Complete English Cook…, 2nd Edition, by Ann Peckham, London, England, circa 1767.
3.) Harriott Pinckney Horry’s receipt book was published as A Colonial Plantation Cookbook, edited by Richard J. Hooker, Columbia, South Carolina, 1984.
4.) E. Kidder’s Receipts of Pastry and Cookery, by Edward Kidder, London,
NEXT: published and manuscript receipts of the early 19th century.
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