"Take some quinces and scald them till they are soft, then pare them very thin ; put to them some sugar, ginger powdered, and a little cinnamon ; beat up the yolks of four eggs, and mix them with a pint of cream ; put it to the quinces, and beat them all up well together ; it must be made pretty thick with the quinces. A pudding may be made in this manner with apricots, apples or white pear-plumbs."
Charlotte Mason, The Lady’s Assistant for Regulating and Supplying the Table, 4th edition (1778)
I’ve noticed a fair few quince-harvest pics in my Twitter feed this past week or two, which leads me to conclude that it’s the start of quince season (although ours aren’t ready just yet). That being the case, it’s time to seek out a few historical quince recipes to see if I can help out with any potential quince gluts.
This one from Charlotte Mason isn’t exactly a beacon of clear instruction, but then eighteenth century recipes usually aren’t. Let’s see if we can unpick it and work out what’s what.
“Take some quinces”; okay, let’s say… six? Scald – which I think is meant to be a rolling simmer, but without actually boiling – until soft, and then “pare them very thin”. Which could mean taking off the outer skin, without removing too much flesh? Then “put to them some sugar”. Again, not very precise, and it’s always a good idea to adjust the amount of to your taste. A couple of table-spoonfuls, maybe three? Four eggs and a pint of cream are clear enough, but again, you might want to adjust the quantities, depending on how many quinces you decide to use.
Next: “Put it to the quinces and beat them all up well together.” Okay, I think we have to back-track a bit. Perhaps “pare” in this context means to peel and slice, rather than just peel? That would make more sense if you’re beating the quinces up with the cream and eggs, as presumably you’d want to core them as well? At which point, there’s no mention of a further cooking method, just “It must be made pretty thick with the quinces.” There’s no flour or fat involved, apart from the cream, so it doesn’t sound like the sort of pudding that needs to be baked or boiled.
I’m guessing the end result is more of a whipped quince custard? Something similar to a gooseberry fool or an apple cream, rather than a ‘pudding’ of the stodgy, stick-to-your-ribs sort?
What do you think? Does my interpretation seem reasonable? Do you feel inspired to give Charlotte Mason’s quince pudding a go yourself? If you do, or if you have any thoughts on my reading of the recipe, please do leave a comment below and let me know.