An Orange Pudding

It’s been a while since I’ve made a historical recipe so here’s a very rich, but also very delicious orange pudding from a 17th century recipe book in the Gell family archive.

‘An Orange Pudding’ from a 17th century recipe book, reference D258/32/15/1.

There were two orange pudding recipes on the page:

An Orange Pudding
Take 3 good Oranges, pare them with as little of ye white as you can putt ye pills
into spring water all night, boyle them in 2 or 3 Waters till they be tender,
then pound them in a stone mortar wth 3 quarters of a pound of good Sugar & as
much sweet butter, when they are very finely pownded you may put in the juice of
the oranges with the in-meat of the oranges (but without the seeds or kernells) mix them
altogether, beat the yolks of 8 eggs & 2 whites, put these to the rest, butter your
dish & put it in, wth sweet past laid over & about ye dish; cut your past into
flowers. Halfe an hour will bake it.

Take ye rinds of 2 oranges, grate them, then take 10 ounces of butter & 10 ounces
of double refined sugar & ye yolks of 10 Eggs, beat all these together till it be
pretty light then put it into a dish with some good past rolled thin & lard att
ye bottom put it in & lay a lid on the top & bake it.

I decided to make the first, slightly more complicated recipe, but with half the quantities, just in case it was a disaster! The ingredients were:

1 and a half oranges
170g caster sugar
170g softened unsalted butter
4 egg yolks
1 egg white
sweet shortcrust pastry (I used a classic Pate Brisee all-butter pastry)
egg yolk mixed with a bit of milk or cream to glaze

I thinly pared the rind of one and a half oranges and although I’m not convinced it’s necessary, I soaked them overnight in some water. I then boiled them for around 15 minutes until they were soft and put them in my pestle and mortar. Being soft, they were easy to ‘pound’ as the recipe suggested, and once I had reduced them to a mush, I started pounding in the butter and sugar.

My pestle isn’t big enough for the whole mixture, so I transferred it to a bowl and used a wooden spoon to cream the butter, sugar and orange peel together, before adding the flesh (chopped up) and juice of the one and a half oranges. It was an easy enough mixture to work by hand, but if I did it again, I’d use a food processor to whiz up the orange flesh and then blitz that with the butter and sugar, as I think it would make for a smoother filling. I did cheat and use an electric whisk to beat the eggs before adding them into the mixture.

Without any flour to bind it, the orange juice and egg didn’t really blend with the butter, so I had a very peculiar looking mixture of creamed sugar and butter in a lot of liquid. I was somewhat sceptical that this would really work, but I persevered and lined a flan tin with pastry and poured in the filling. As I’d halved the recipe, I used a 7-inch (18cm) loose bottomed flan tin, but it turned out I could just as easily have used my standard 9-inch (23cm) pie dish as I had filling left over. I then followed the instructions to ‘cut your past [pastry] into flowers’ using a very pretty design with clear instructions which I found in this modern recipe.

The completed pudding before cooking

You can get a sense of what a strange looking filling it was from this picture of it before it went into the oven – solid butter swimming in egg and orange juice. I put it in the oven at 180 degrees for around 35 minutes, by which time the filling had solidified and the top was nicely golden brown. As I had used a loose-bottomed flan dish, I put a baking tray underneath, which was just as well, as a fair bit of butter leaked out of the bottom as it cooked.

Straight out of the oven!

I served it forth with a jug of cream as the pudding for our Sunday lunch and it was devoured with gusto! The filling had a rich buttery and sweet orange flavour, nicely complemented by the crispy pastry on the top. The bottom pastry was soggy (unsurprisingly with all that liquid) but it melded with the orange filling so wasn’t really noticeable. We decided that we liked it both hot and cold – the pastry topping was crisper hot, but the filling was slightly more flavourful cold.

All in all, it was pretty easy to make and the second of the Orange Pudding recipes above would be even easier, as there would be a lot less liquid and no need for a pestle and mortar or soaking and boiling the orange peel. If you fancy an indulgent treat, this is a winner!

4 thoughts on “An Orange Pudding

  1. You are a Trojan !
    Many thanks for trying these old recipes for us
    I would never find the time nor the patience
    Altogether entertaining
    I have all your posts into my Outlook mailbox

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