Fashions for cookbooks continue to change all the time - whether it be the authors, the content or the design. Fanny herself devised an amazing array of over 40 cookbooks, and she rode every imaginable craze going. She blooming well invented them too. The main direction she wanted us to go was backwards, of course not in our skills, in time. She wanted to 'bring back' good, old fashioned British cooking, with more than an 'Allo 'Allo to the French way of doing things. By that she meant mainly Victorian-style gastronomy, but more suited to the garish orange fabric of life for the modern housewife of the 60's and 70's who wasn't fortunate enough to have 'help'. So, everything had to be easy to achieve (which meant following Fanny to the letter), in super quick time (which was before your husband returned from work with his new boss for dinner) and without straining the purse (which had taken rather a battering in recent years).
You see Fanny loved a pudding. Ye Olde ones mainly. She often called them Puddens. Savoury or sweet, mostly steamed but sometimes baked. Sometimes frozen or 'set'. All sorts of ingredients could be mixed up, transferred to one of the many pudding moulds from the dazzling display of designs that lined the kitchen shelves and simmered on the stove, or in a bain-marie in the oven, for a good few hours. Sometimes stodgy. Sometimes solid. Sometimes substantial. Always a filling, old-fashioned addition to any meal. Fanny wrote about them throughout all her cookbooks, and usually managed to slip in a pudding to her Bill of Fare, despite them slipping in and out of fashion.
I am delighted, as I'm sure Fanny would be too, that they may be coming back into vogue, thanks to a wonderfully glorious new cookbook just about to be released. I managed to snap up a sly copy ahead of release thanks to my local Waterstones being somewhat 'fluid' on dates and seemingly popping books on the shelves as they arrive in store. Naughty but nice. The wonderfully titled Pride and Pudding from Regula Ysewlin (Miss Foodwise if you please) is the most luxurious romp back through the centuries of puddings, savoury and sweet. Not only immaculately researched, but each recipe, in both original and updated form, is presented with a thoroughly ravishing set of photographs to boot. Regula is a talented photographer and graphic designer. Drool. The book is all wrapped together with a suitably elaborate and engaging design, thanks to Regula's husband and illustrator Bruno. Regula has Bruno. Fanny had Johnnie.
I can't take my eyes of the book, it's my current bedtime read. I'm not getting much sleep. I even started to leaf through the stunning pages while walking along the street heading home after excitedly, and sneakily it seems, buying it. This is the book Fanny wishes she could've written, telling the story not only of the British pudding, but also the cooks, writers and moments in history that helped to shape them. Many of them women. Fanny's all-time favourite Mrs A.B. Marshall features in the Ices and Jellies section. It had been Fanny's lifelong desire to reintroduce Mrs Marshall to the gastronomic world. Perhaps if Johnnie had been able to able to be more help than blethering on about booze she may have succeeded.
Fanny revives an Apple Pudding for us in the Easter partwork in the guise of Adam and Eve, mixing up her biblical references delightfully. It's a simple pudding made from breadcrumbs, moistened with milk, suet, sugar, lemon zest, raisins, egg and chopped apples added. I've used vegetable suet, naturally, and lovely Pink Lady Apples. Fanny doesn't specify. Mixed together and rammed into mini buttered moulds they simply steam for an hour or so, served still steaming away with a small dollop of cream. Fanny showcased them in her own very particular style back in the 1970's, already fading from fashion by then, but I love it. She would've been so very jealous of Pride and Pudding, but suitably proud and passionate too. I'm delighted to have both in my life - there is always room for pudding, whatever the fashion, whatever the mould and whatever the design.