The Record Office has many household recipe books (or receipt books as they were known), dating back to the 17th Century. Our twelfth treasure is the 1830s recipe book of Clara Palmer-Morewood of Alfreton Hall.
Recipe books of this time combine cookery recipes with medicinal and veterinary cures as well as beauty treatments. Clara’s is a great example, with recipes for fashionable foreign dishes such as ‘fromage fondue’, ‘petty shoes’ (petit choux!) and ‘Spanish fritters’, but also ‘a cure for dogs who are troubled with the snort’, lip salve and a recipe to wash chintz amongst other delights.
Many of Clara’s recipes have been contributed by friends and relations, whose names are given beside each recipe, so the book also gives an insight into Clara’s social circle. You can see a full list of recipes and their contributors on our online catalogue here, or read some of Becky’s transcriptions of the recipes for rabbit soup, lobster curry, sponge cake, gingerbread, pancakes, ginger beer, mince pies, and biscuit puddings on this blog.
What really makes Clara’s book a treasure, though, is that it has a recipe for Bakewell Pudding dated 1837. It is a really delicious and easy recipe, which I’ve now made several times! Legend has it that this local speciality was invented by accident in the 1860s. Clara’s book shows that this local legend can’t be completely true – and Ivan Day’s excellent research into this question has revealed some even earlier Bakewell Pudding recipes.
If you’d like to make the pudding yourself, here’s how to do it:
Line a 7 inch (18cm) metal pie dish with puff pastry. Spread a couple of tablespoons of jam over the bottom and scatter over some candied orange peel, if you like it, and flaked almonds to taste (about 50g). As an alternative to jam you can use dried cherries or raisins, finely chopped. Cherries are better as they are a bit more tart.
In a bowl put 4 egg yolks, 1 egg white, 4 oz (100g) melted better, cooled, and 4 oz (100g) sugar. Beat for a couple of minutes with an electric whisk until fluffy, pour into the pie dish and bake in the middle of the oven at 180 degrees centigrade (gas mark 5) for 30-35 minutes.
If you give it a try, do leave a comment to let us know whether you enjoyed it!