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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.



Last week, during flooding in my local area, I ended up living several days essentially on an island. I live up on a hill, but the main road at the bottom of the neighborhood was closed, the power was out a conserve-and-boil-water order was in effect. My children and I talked about earlier days when no one had electricity, TV, etc… I toyed with the notion of whether this was giving me a taste of Regency life, but quickly rejected it.

As we figured out ways to cook everything on a barbecue grill, I realized that in the Regency we would have had a wood, or more likely, coal-burning stove of some sort, as pictured here (the kitchen at Pickford’s House, Friar Gate, Derby, built after 1812). More importantly, I (or more likely, my cook-let’s keep it a proper Regency fantasy) would know how to use it. Instead of worrying about the food in the fridge and freezer spoiling, we’d have cellars or get fresh stuff from the home farm or local market.

As far as personal hygiene was concerned, in my Regency fantasy I’d have a nice avante-garde bathroom such as the ‘bamboo bathroom’ at Plas Tag in Wales. The bath includes a shower with its own coal-fired water supply. Of course, I’d also have the means and the servants to bathe daily, as Beau Brummell is supposed to have done.

Inconveniences aside, the most striking thing was the feeling of isolation. We had only the radio to keep us advised as to the situation. Up on out hill everything was almost surreally normal–kids played outside, I did some gardening, lots of people were out grilling. It was just very quiet with no one driving in and out. Without the visual images on TV or a storm of Internet news, it was hard to grasp the extent of the devastation in lower areas. As it turns out, we were very lucky compared to some. Fortunately, there were very few fatalities in our area, but many people’s houses and businesses have sustained serious damage.

Anyway, after a few days of isolation, we learned that a somewhat roundabout, country road way of getting out of our neighborhood had opened up. We were expecting houseguests coming from Chicago, but they called, telling us the western routes to our town were still closed, so we arranged to meet them further to the north. We ending up “roughing it” together in a Fairfield Inn, conveniently located close to a children’s museum, a zoo, restaurants and boasting a pool. What I enjoyed the most, though, were the hot showers and hot coffee each morning. The best thing was getting home to find the power back on ahead of NYSEG predictions, our pet fish still alive and only moderately unpleasant smells from the fridge.

So I’ll admit it. I’m a wimp, I like my modern comforts and my Regency fantasy has to include all the most up-to-date conveniences of the time. And many, many servants. 🙂

Hope all my Risky friends and guests are safe and reasonably dry!

LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, Golden Quill Best Historical Romance

It seems to me that I would have done very well with a Regency Christmas. As far as I can determine, there was little in the way of celebration, especially as we now know it, in the Regency period prior to 1815. Customs such as Yule-log burning and decorating with greenery were apparently considered rustic by those of a more elevated position, who left the more primitive celebration to those who were more common. One did dine with one’s friends, and practice charity to the poor at Christmas time, but it was “undignified” to celebrate in any more frivolous way.

Well…I do have a struggle between wanting to do the season justice and dreading its demands. I so love the end results–the sparkling house, the cooking smells, the evergreen, the red ribbon and lights, the candles, the wrapped gifts resting mysteriously under the Christmas tree in the pale light of dawn. BUT…the big BUT…fate seems to conspire to keep me from getting there.

Being a single woman keeping her own house, one would think I could have it under control. Not so. Between a full time job, writing, housekeeping and the deepening snow I soon discover that it is DECEMBER 18TH AND I HAVEN’T SENT OUT ANY CARDS YET. And that is just the beginning.

I know that my stress is shared from my friends. At work, I hear one fretting about the cost of a child’s preference of gift, another bemoaning having to visit the mall yet again, and another worried that her grown child will not be able to visit. There are some who seem to be able to do it all and more, of course, but I can only think of them with awe.

Back to Christmas in the Regency…something about the very simplicity of their celebration appeals to me, although I am inclined to be a bit contrified in my views, because I favor the evergreen and holly and mistletoe and the roaring fire. I like the empasis on charity, too–and food. Who can’t like food?!

Okay, now I have arrived at something. I decide to look up some Regency Recipes in a handy reference, THE NEW FEMALE INSTRUCTOR, published in 1834.

“After it is picked, the plugs of the feathers pulled out, and the hairs carefully singed, let it be well washed and dried, and a seasoning put in of onion, sage, and pepper and salt. Fasten it tight at the neck and the rump, and then roast.” [My note–I am assuming the insides were cleaned out; I imagine this was thought to be understood!]. “Put it first at a distance from the fire, and at degrees draw it nearer. A slip of paper should be skewered on the breast-bone. Baste it very well. When the breast is rising, take off the paper; And be careful to serve it before the breast falls, or it will be spoiled by coming flattened to the table. Let a good gravy be sent in the dish.”

Good heavens. The goose is looking like a bit of work. I had no idea my goose could go flat. I decide to pass on to dessert.

“Cut a pound of suet into small pieces, but not too fine, a pound of currants washed clean, a pound of raisins stoned, eight yolks of eggs, and four whites, half a nutmeg grated, a tea-spoonful of beaten ginger, a pound of flour, and a pint of milk. Beat the eggs first, then put to them half the milk, and beat them together; and by degrees stir in the flour, then the suet, spice, and fruit, and as much milk as will mix it well together, very thick. It will take four hours boiling. When done, turn it into our dish, and strew over it grated sugar.”

Not so bad. Not very different than certain of today’s recipes, especially if you have one that has been handed down in the family. A lot of work, still do-able. But I’m not too keen on the suit. I wonder what it will do to my cholesterol levels.

Better consider what to drink.

“Boil thirty pounds of sugar in ten gallons of water, and scum it clear. When cold, put a quart of new ale-wort to every gallon of liquor, and let it work in the tub a day or two. Then put it into the cask with a pound of sugar candy, six pounds of fine raisins, a pint of brandy, and two ounces of isinglass. When the fermentation is over, stop it close; let it stand eight months, rack it off, and add a little more brandy. Put it in the cask again, and let it stand four months before it is bottled.”

Ahem. Nothing to drink until next year. Oh, hey, just give me the brandy.

Perhaps I will stop bemoaning today’s Christmases. Either that, or I will go back in time as a wealthy woman with a cook and a full housekeeping staff. Until then…

Link–more recipes:

Link–Jo Beverley’s page on the Regency Christmas, done much better than I could have done:


Where’s that brandy???


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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