A Tale of Two Puddings Part Two: Blackberry Pudding

Katie Maxwell, Visitor Services Coordinator

(If you missed part one, start here.)

For my second delve into 35 Receipts from “The Larder Invaded,” I chose this 1886 blackberry pudding recipe found on page 67. I love blackberries, and I love dessert so nothing could go wrong. Even if it does, it will still be dessert, and I never met a dessert I didn’t like.

Then I read the ingredients…and read them again. Here they are:

1 pint of milk

3 ½ cups of flour

3 eggs

½ teaspoonsful of salt

1 tablespoonful of melted butter

2 heaping teaspoonsful of baking-powder *

1 pint blackberries

*Some quick search on the internet tells me that a “heaping” or “heaped” teaspoonful is the result of getting as much of the ingredient as possible on the spoon.

A "heaping" teaspoon

LIke so.

I do have other questions though.

Blackberry pudding ingredients

Where is the sugar? What’s with all that flour? That sure seems like a lot of baking powder.

These ingredients don’t look like they will make any kind of pudding I’ve ever had before.

Traditional American chocolate pudding


This must be one of those British style steamed puddings that always look like cake to me, and suddenly Mrs. Cratchit’s worries about flour quantities make more sense in A Christmas Carol.

Vienna Pudding, G.W. Barlow, manufacturer, New York (Buffalo: Clay & Richmond, ca. 1885). Chromolithograph

Vienna Pudding, G.W. Barlow, manufacturer, New York (Buffalo: Clay & Richmond, ca. 1885). Chromolithograph

I think it is supposed to look something like this. (Hopefully, I will not drop it on the floor.) My sugar question still stands.

The process begins.

Beat the eggs, whites and yolks together, until light;

Beaten eggs

Then add the milk,

Add the milk

Then add the flour, and beat until smooth;

Adding flour
Smooth batter

I highly recommend adding the flour a little bit at a time; it will make the beating process much easier.

Then add the butter melted, salt, and baking powder.

Adding butter, salt, and baking powder

I would typically mix all the dry ingredients together first, but let’s see how this goes.

Drain the blackberries [after washing them], dredge them with flour,

Blackberry dredged in flour

Stir them into the pudding, and turn into a greased pudding mold.

I don’t have a pudding mold, so I am using a bundt pan.

Completed batter

Cover, stand in a pot of boiling water, and boil continuously for three hours. If the water evaporates in the pot, replenish with boiling water. Serve with Fairy Butter.

I’m improvising here. I cover my bundt pan in a couple of layers of aluminum foil and lower it into my largest stockpot along with a few quarts of boiling water.

Boiling the pudding in a stock pot

Now, the waiting…

In the meantime, time to make the Fairy Butter.

¼ cup of butter

1 cup of powdered sugar

1 teaspoonful of sherry

Whites of two eggs

This is so much sugar.

Fairy Butter ingredients

I don’t have any sherry, so I’m using a bit of white wine. It’s close enough.

Beat the butter to a cream, add gradually the sugar, and beat until very light

Halfway to Fairy Butter

Like this?

Add the whites, one at a time, and beat all until very light and frothy, then add gradually the sherry and beat again.

Whipped Fairy Butter

I taste some at this point. It is very sweet.

Heap it on a small dish, sprinkle lightly with grated nutmeg, and stand away on the ice to harden.

Completed Fairy Butter

I set my bowl of Fairy Butter in a pyrex bowl filled with ice.

The three hours go by, and I poke the pudding through the aluminum with a chopstick. It still looks gooey, so I let it steam for another thirty minutes, checking every ten.

I think it’s done.

It takes a little effort to get it out of the pan, but here it is.

Pudding, post boil

The texture of the desert is closest to a quick bread, but without any sugar, it tastes a little bland. However, a slice of pudding topped with the fairy butter is a nice combination. Even though I wouldn’t want to eat either item by itself, they really balance each other well. The buttery topping melts into the surface of the pudding.

Blackberry pudding with Fairy Butter, ready to eat

I still find it strange calling it pudding.

As I side note, I made a delightful discovery. Somewhat stale blackberry pudding makes excellent french toast!

Next time, I will be trying something completely different and tackling artichokes.