22 January 2008

Well, Looky Here

I found something that combines historic knitting, historic cooking, and Victorian England all in one paragraph. It's like a perfect teacup tempest of my particular brand of gothic weirdness.

From Beeton's Book of Household Management (1861):


1227. INGREDIENTS.--6 apples, 3/4 lb. of suet-crust No. 1215, sugar to taste.

Mode.--Pare and take out the cores of the apples without dividing them; sweeten, and roll each apple in a piece of crust, made by recipe No. 1211; be particular that the paste is nicely joined; put the dumplings into floured cloths, tie them securely, and put them into boiling water. Keep them boiling from 1/2 to 3/4 hour; remove the cloths, and send them hot and quickly to table. Dumplings boiled in knitted cloths have a very pretty appearance when they come to table. The cloths should be made square, just large enough to hold one dumpling, and should be knitted in plain knitting, with very coarse cotton.

Time. -- 3/4 to 1 hour, or longer should the dumplings be very large. Average cost, 11/2d. each. Sufficient for 4 persons. Seasonable from August to March, but flavourless after the end of January.

Yes, there is a typo in the recipe. It calls for both recipe 1215 (suet) and recipe 1211 (butter short-crust) for the crust. I posted this to the historic knitting e-list and it was confirmed that the typo is in the print version as well. The considered opinion of the experienced pudding boilers there was that 1215, being a suet crust, was the better choice for a boiled dumpling.

SUET CRUST, for Pies or Puddings.

1215. INGREDIENTS.--To every lb. of flour allow 5 or 6 oz. of beef suet, 1/2 pint of water.

Mode.--Free the suet from skin and shreds; chop it extremely fine, and rub it well into the flour; work the whole to a smooth paste with the above proportion of water; roll it out, and it is ready for use. This crust is quite rich enough for ordinary purposes, but when a better one is desired, use from ½ to ¾ lb. of suet to every lb. of flour. Some cooks, for rich crusts, pound the suet in a mortar, with a small quantity of butter. It should then be laid on the paste in small pieces, the same as for puff-crust, and will be found exceedingly nice for hot tarts. 5 oz. of suet to every lb. of flour will make a very good crust; and even ¼ lb. will answer very well for children, or where the crust is wanted very plain.

Average cost, 5d. per lb.

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