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I came across this recipe for bread pudding  from 1815 and since I love bread pudding I decided to make it. Image of the recipe below. When I was in the kitchen about to make it I took a screen shot of  my website blog post about finding the recipe because that was faster for reference.

The recipe text is included for people who don’t see the image or who are using a screen reader.
Image of recipe. Text below for screen readers

I did a post over at my blog where I posted the recipe.


Bread pudding

Take the crumb of a penny loaf, and pour on it a pint of good milk boiling hot, when it is cold, beat it very fine, with two ounces of butter and sugar to your palate, grate half a nutmeg in it, beat it up with four eggs, and put them in and beat altogether near half an hour, tie it in a cloth and boil it an hour, you may put in half a pound of currants for change, and pour over it white wine sauce.

To make a boiled bread pudding a second way.

Take the inside of a penny loaf, grate it fine, add it to two ounces of butter, take a pint and a half of milk, with a stick of cinnamon; boil it and pour it over the bread, and cover it close until it is cold, then take six eggs beat up very well with rose water, mix them all well together, sweet to your taste, and boil it one hour.

I figured it would be interesting to attempt this. I decided on the first way, no currants added.

My first hurdle was figuring out the size of a penny loaf. It turns out the size/weight of a penny loaf was dependent on the cost of wheat. I read a bunch and saw all the formulas and as near as I can tell a penny loaf had to weigh anywhere from 11 to 16 troy ounces. A troy ounce is 31.1034768 g (1.097142857143 ounces.) Some more googleing . . . .

Because I am awesome at math, I’ll just do some calculations and . . . 16 troy ounces is 17.554285714288 regular ounces. Ta Da!!!

I decided 16 ounces of bread was close enough. I bought a 16 oz baguette at the store.

The steps with lots of pictures:


16 oz of bread roughly torn up

I tore up the baguette into chunks then used a food processor to reduce to crumbs. I didn’t have time to wait for them to get stale enough so I dried out the crumbs in a 500 F oven until most of the moisture was gone. Not toasted though!



Above is the mixing bowl of crumbs, awaiting a transformation to something delicious.


Picture of a bottle of open milk and a full 2 cup glass measure of milk


At the store, I bought full fat milk (in a bottle!!!) not homogenized, that still had cream in it from one of the local amazing dairies. That would be more like what would have been on hand in the Regency.


I boiled the milk as directed. . . and mixed it into the bread crumbs. It was really dry. My doubts about this began in earnest. It wasn’t the texture I was expecting at all.

But OK! I put the milk and bread crumbs mixture in the freezer so it would come to room temperature quickly.

Bowl in freezing cooling down fast


After that, I had my butter (unsalted) my nutmeg, sugar, and eggs ready to add.

Since it said Sugar To Taste, I’ll just say I added about 1 1/3 cups of sugar. If I were to make it again, I might reduce the sugar slightly.

I was worried about the amount of nutmeg as half a nutmeg grated was easily a tablespoon or more and that’s an aggressive amount of nutmeg.

Once I had the sugar and nutmeg added, I elected to add about a teaspoon of Fleur du Sel (fancy French salt) and about a teaspoon of cinnamon because I thought it seemed a little bland.

half a nutmeg, grated. It's pretty and pungent


Mixture with butter

The recipe calls for a lot of mixing time, up to 30 minutes after the all the ingredients are added. I mixed it on higher speeds for a long time. With a Kitchen-aid because this isn’t about my upper arm strength.


Beaten eggs being mixed into bread mixtures. It's not attractive. It feels mushy.


As I was adding ingredients my doubts increased. It was an unattractive color, it was dense and sticky, and I was having regrets about the whole idea. Maybe my bread crumbs weren’t fine enough. Maybe I should have used a different bread. I don’t know.

Ingredients being mixed in mixer. It's something....

More mixing. . . .

The pudding on the cloth about to be wrapped. It is a sticky slightly oozing mass.

On the Cloth

OK. Fine.

I poured and scraped the mixture onto the cloth, and it was like that blanc mange from Monty Python running around eating everything. I was sure it would rise up and attempt to eat innocent people.

The pudding tied up in a cloth with lots of string. It's a lump. I could lie and say it looks fantastic but it's a lump.

Tied Up

I wrapped it up and used a lot of string to to tie it up. My nightmare was that the whole thing would come apart in the water. I feel I used an appropriate amount of string. I would NOT use less.

Trussed up pudding in boiling water.


Right. Boiling. In the water. For an hour, it said.

But after an hour it wasn’t appreciably cooked at all. So I trussed it up again and boiled it some more. And then I had an engagement so I put the water on simmer and left it for 3 hours. Maybe a deeper pot and more water, aggressively boiling? I don’t know. It just looked . . . so sad.

The trussed up pudding, cooked.


Here is it boiled and boiled and boiled … But notice that my string work was excellent.

THe bread puudingin a glass bowl. It looks awful. It's just .... stuff


I untrussed it and it was . . . omg. It kind of fell apart because I wasn’t expecting this…blob. And it was sticking to the cloth, too.

Ugly just isn’t the right word, but it will work. Plus it didn’t look much different than when it went in. I figured the whole thing was a complete loss.

And then I tasted it. Just in case. And it was actually really good. My son tried it and said. “I’d call that a win.” It was all gone the next morning, by the way.

A small serving in a green cup. Also not delicious looking. BUt it was.


It wasn’t hard to make. It probably does need a sauce to hide how unappealing it looks.

An acquaintance told me later she makes hers in a mold and I can totally see doing that because then it’s a pretty shape.

There you have it. Bread pudding Regency style. It was delicious. But not more delicious as bread pudding baked in an oven. But still delicious. And all that nutmet? Absolutely the correct amount.



I’ve always wanted to try out a Regency recipe. I rather rashly promised to do a book signing (at an old-fashioned bookshop in a historic town) with the theme of a Regency Tea, so this seemed like a good opportunity to experiment. In LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, I had a housewifely 9-year-old make something called Banbury cakes, so I decided to try making them myself.

Here’s the original recipe, from THE COMPLETE SERVANT, by Samuel and Sarah Adams, first published in 1825. (A neat reference, with guidance on the duties of every servant imaginable, and some interesting recipes. I found a nice 1989 reprint from Southover Press.)

Take a pound of dough made for white bread, roll it out, and put bits of butter upon the same as for puff paste, till a pound of the same has been worked in; roll it out very thin, then cut it into bits of an oval size, according as the cakes are wanted. Mix some good moist sugar with a little brandy, sufficient to wet it, then mix some clean washed currants with the former, put a little upon each bit of paste, close them up, and put the side that is closed next the tin they are to be baked upon. Lay them separate, and bake them moderately, and afterwards, when taken out, sift sugar over them. Some candied peel may be added, or a few drops of the essence of lemon.

Here’s my very loose interpretation. Puff pastry dough would be more accurate but I opted to make something more like a filled cookie, as I thought it would transport better.

3 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz jar blackcurrant preserves
1 tsp brandy

1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy.
3. Add egg, milk and vanilla and beat well.
4. Add dry ingredients, mix thoroughly.
5. Cover and chill for about half an hour or until dough is easily rolled.
6. Mix blackcurrant preserves and brandy for filling.
7. Flour surface and rolling pin well (dough is very sticky) and roll out fairly thin (a little thicker than 1/8 inch). Cut out 3 or 4 inch rounds, as desired. Put a little filling (not too much so you can close it) in the center and gently crimp the edges together. (Don’t worry if a few break or some filling oozes out. Just be careful to, um, destroy the evidence!)
8. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes, until golden in center and lightly browned on the edges.
9. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.

This makes about 24 large (using 4 inch rounds) or 36 small (3 inch rounds).

As I said, not quite accurate, but rich and buttery, the currants adding a nice tartness. My kids even liked them, so I hope visitors to my booksigning will, too.
And I do solemnly promise Mr. St. James that there will be no iced or fruit-flavored beverages served!

Elena 🙂

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