Miss Windsor bids you a rather spiffing "carrot-licious" International Carrot Day – Thursday 4th April 2019.
Also, I may be a trifle quick off the mark, but I wish to dedicate this recipe in memory of the brave men, including my darling grandpa Larry (Royal Marine Commando) who on the 6th June 1944 participated in the D-Day Landings, thus finally freed Great Britain from the clutches of Nazi Germany.
You see, in celebration of this incredibly carrot-licious day, and to commemorate (in advance) the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, may I present this truly scrumptious, Victorian, British, suet pudding recipe – Mrs Beeton’s Spicy Suet Carrot Pudding, which was first published in the 1861 edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Oh, and by the way, I added the "spicy" twist to this subtly sweet yet wholesome pud!
I say, darlings, now you’re probably wondering, “What the heck have carrots got to do with the D-Day Landings, Miss Windsor?” I hear you shrill with immense intrigue! Well, there’s no direct connection, but suffice to say, the courageous and healthful carrot also played an important role in winning the war, hence their culinary contribution helped to save the British people from starvation.
So, chaps and chapettes, without further ado, one would like to arouse your palate – Oh, I say! with a titbit or two about the history of our exceedingly healthful yet frightfully delightful carrot pudding, including the role of our trusty carrot in wartime Britain.
Now, according to the jolly old internet: Foods of England, my research revealed that the history of the English pudding, including the carrot sort (I believe) tumbles all the way back to the reign of King John of England (1199 to 1216) – well, I never!
You see, according to Mr Henry Carey, who was an English poet, playwright, and musician, in 1726 he wrote A Learned Dissertation on Dumplings – a wonderful piece about how puddings derived from dumplings! In fact, I have no idea why this man wrote about such a thing, but nevertheless, his content and findings are of great importance to the arena of food history.
So, darlings, Mr Carey wrote, "The Roman’s, tho’ our Conquerors, found themselves much out-done in dumplings by our forefathers; the Roman dumplings were no more to compare to those made by the Britons." - hear, hear Mr Carey! Apparently, "The British dumpling at that time, was a little better than what we call a "stone" dumpling, being nothing else but flour and water," - How remarkable!
Also, this man of much discovery and knowledge scribed that every generation grew "wiser and wiser," and so the dumpling naturally became a pudding. By such time, milk, butter, marrow, sugar, and plumbs (old English for raisins or any kind of dried fruit) were added to the basic ingredients, then eventually during the reign of our sovereign John, King of England, eggs were introduced to the mixture.
Now, darlings, what I’m going to indulge you with next tickles me greatly! You see, our darling Henry proclaimed that "the invention (addition) of eggs were merely accidental!" “Accidental, Miss Windsor, how could that be so?” I hear you pipe up from across the airwaves!
Well, apparently, Mr Carey was privy to such information due to his acquaintance with an old chap, "the greatest antiquary of the present age," who was known by the grand title of Mr Lawrence of Wilsden-Green, London – How fascinating!
This aged, well let’s say old yet genteel fellow, recounted to Mr Carey the culinary tale of two or three eggs "which having casually roll’d from off a shelf into a pudding which a good wife was making. She found herself under necessity either of throwing away her pudding, or letting the eggs remain, but concluding from the innocent quality of eggs, that they would do no hurt, if they did no good!"
And so, after the said good wife picked out all the broken shell, she created the pudding of all puddings - Oh, I say, Miss Windsor does enjoy a bit of old-fashioned culinary storytelling! Thus, the good wife "was sent for to court to make puddings for King John," and ever since the English or British folks became world-famous for their beloved puddings and the consumption thereof!
Darlings, at the, said good wife’s demise, Mr Carey wrote, "her son was taken into favour, and made King’s chief cook; and so great his fame for puddings, that he was called Jack Pudding all over the kingdom, tho’ in truth, his real name was John Brand." - well, what do ya know!
You see, as noted by Mr Carey, King John "was a mighty LOVER of PUDDING," and so the illustrious Jack Pudding created many sorts of puddings purely for the delectation of His Majesty such as plain pudding, sausage pudding, plumb pudding, marrow pudding, flower pudding, oatmeal pudding, suet pudding, and the one and only CARROT PUDDING!
Now, my dear ones here’s some food for thought! Although the ever so popular orange type of carrot wasn’t available in ye-olde England until the Elizabethan era (1558 to 1603) it is indeed possible that purple and yellow varieties were shipped over from Spain to King John’s royal kitchen. And so, according to the Carrot Museum, "carrot cultivation spread to Spain in the 1100’s via the Middle East and North Africa," – and there you have it!
Darlings, may I just add, the story about Jack Pudding and King John is far too long for my recipe introduction, so if you would like to read more, please visit Foods of England– ta very muchly! Oh, and please do pop back once you’ve finished – toot sweet!
PHOTO CREDIT - CLICK HERE
Now, moving on swiftly to the role of the courageous carrot during wartime Britain. Darlings, I’m proud to say that during WWII carrots played an important role in feeding the nation. The UK Ministry of Food encouraged the good folks of Britain to substitute rationed goods for carrots instead, therefore, the Agricultural Ministry increased the commercial production of this life-saving culinary asset.
Darlings, so it’s evident that our trusty carrots were particularly plentiful during wartime Britain, and so ingredients such as sugar, suet, flour, dried fruit, eggs (of course, one could depend on a pet chicken or the "powdered" type which came from America) were also available, although rationed. So, I dare say, as a once in a while treat, Mother or the cook of the house would’ve definitely whipped up something of a similar nature to Mrs Beeton’s Spicy Suet Carrot Pudding.
I Say, if you’d rather not take on the laborious task of steaming your pudding, then may one suggest baking it instead. However, Miss Windsor has come up with a bit of a time-saving solution if you are still keen to steam, so to speak! Why not split the pudding mixture between two x 1-pint (570ml or 20 US fl oz) pudding basins, as this will cut down the steaming time considerably – only an hour or so, as opposed to three!
Darlings, a little tip if your dinner party turns out to be a bit on the small side, thus you find yourself with a left-over pudding, so just wrap it in foil and pop it in the freezer until your next dinner engagement – voila!
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY MISS WINDSOR EXCEPT FOR PHOTO OF GRANPA LARRY
Mrs Beeton’s Spicy Suet Carrot Pudding!
Preparation time: 1 hour
To steam: 1 & 1/4 hours (1-pint pudding basin) or 3 hours (2-pint pudding basin)
To bake: 1 & 1/4 hours
Serves 4 to 8 guests depending on your chosen pudding basin or baking vessel!
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