Loudoun’s Apple Pudding

Loudon's apple puddingJohn Campbell Loudoun’s apple pudding recipe first caught my eye because it was written in verse. A rarity today, rhyming recipes were common in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when they were supposedly used by housewives to help them remember recipes. Loudoun’s poem, attributed to him by Kristie Lynn and Robert Pelton, authors of The Early American Cookbook, is much older, dating back to the 18th century:

If you would have a good pudding, observe what you’re taught: —
Take two pennyworth (six) of eggs, when twelve for the groat (fourpence):
And of the same fruit that Eve had once chosen,
Well pared and well chopped, at least half-a-dozen;
Six ounces of bread, let your maid eat the crust,
The crumbs must be grated as small as the dust;
Six ounces of currants from the stones you must sort,
Lest they brake out your teeth, and spoil all your sport;
Five ounces of sugar won’t make it too sweet;
Some salt and some nutmeg will make it compleat,
Three hours let it boyle, without hurry or flutter,
And then serve it up without sugar or butter.

Born in Scotland in 1705, the fourth earl of Loudoun was sent to North America in 1756 as governor of the Virginia colony and commander-in-chief of the British forces in America. He was viewed by most colonial leaders as incompetent and was extremely unpopular (and yet a Virginia county was named after him!). Benjamin Franklin wrote that Loudoun’s 1757 campaign against the French was “frivolous, expensive, and disgraceful to our Nation beyond Conception.” Loudoun was recalled to England in 1757.

John Campbell Loudoun, portrait by Allan Ramsay, circa 1750

John Campbell Loudoun, portrait by Allan Ramsay, circa 1750

I’d like to give Loudoun the benefit of the doubt and speculate that maybe he just missed his true calling. Perhaps if he’d been allowed to go to culinary school instead of becoming an army officer, he would have left a better legacy.

I decided to try Loudoun’s pudding, following his instructions except that I baked rather than boiled it. (I also used fewer eggs than he specified because eggs were smaller in the 18th century.) The dish turned out pretty well, though it was best the first day, just out of the oven. Below is my updated, non-rhyming version of Loudoun’s recipe.

Loudoun’s Apple Pudding (updated version)

6 ounces white bread (slightly stale is best)
4 eggs
5 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
6 ounces currants
5 ounces sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. To make bread crumbs, remove crusts from the bread, then chop in food processor until fine crumbs form.

2. Beat eggs until well blended. Stir in bread crumbs, apples, currants, sugar, salt, and nutmeg, and mix well.

3. Butter a one-quart pudding mold, or a baking dish. Pour in batter and cover container with lid or aluminum foil. Bake in preheated 300°F oven for three hours.

4. Remove pudding from oven and let rest 10-15 minutes, then remove lid or foil. If using a mold, invert the pudding onto a plate if possible; otherwise, serve from the dish. Serve warm, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

Note: I baked this pudding instead of boiling it as I feel the baking method is easier and produces a similar result. If you want to steam the pudding, place the mold in a large kettle on top of metal rack or trivet and pour boiling water into the pot about halfway up the sides of the mold. Cover the pot and cook over medium-low heat, keeping the water at a simmer, for three hours.

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12 thoughts on “Loudoun’s Apple Pudding

    • I was wondering that, too. I think he meant tied up in cloth and boiled (which I’ve tried a few times with other dishes, not too successfully), but maybe he meant steamed in boiling water. Any 18th-century pudding experts out there?

      • In the past, steamed puddings were made into a ball and tied in cloths. That’s why many old images of Christmas pudding are round. I can’t say for sure if it was submerged in boiling water or just suspended over.

  1. One Christmas, a long time ago in the 1980’s, I decided to have my family over for a Victorian Christmas Feast. Victoria Magazine, which I subscribed to, featured a 19th Century Christmas Menu recipe from Mrs. Beachim. The entry was French Onion Soup, which I made and we ate as our first entry. Roast stuffed goose with apple stuffing was the main entry. I purchased a goose, roasted, and stuffed it with the Apple Bread stuffing recipe, that included walnuts and raisins. The final entry for dessert was traditional plum pudding. The recipe was original, but the magazine advised to steam the plum pudding, put it in a Folger’s Coffee Can. I followed the plum pudding recipe, and poured the batter into the coffee can, and immersed it into a boiling water-bath for the prescribed time. I took out the plum pudding, and popped it out of the coffee can mold. When it cooled a little I put the frosting on top that was prescribed in the original recipe, and topped it with holly. It was all delicious, and my guests were pleased with everything in the meal, except the goose wasn’t a hit.

    • That sounds like a wonderful meal. Thanks for visiting, Chandie. I haven’t posted in a very long time, and it’s nice to know people are still reading my blog. Maybe it’s time for me to get back to it!

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