Almond is one of those words I find myself rehearing in my head before saying out loud and in public ‘al-mond… ar-mond…’ It’s not like the pronunciation is even delineated along geographical lines – in England, it seems to me, people just pronounce it however they like. Ask yourself, honestly, do you always pronounce it the same way? I know I don’t. On this occasion, in Sainsbury’s and with a recently fought off cold, I was asking for trouble.
‘Excuse me,’ I said, as I approached a supermarket assistant in the home baking aisle. ‘Can you tell me the difference between almond essence and almond flavouring?’
The assistant initially looked slightly taken aback and then asked ‘what are you making?’
It might have been my imagination but I like to think that she had at first thought I had asked her what was the difference was between old-man extract and old-man flavouring. I really need to learn to say that word properly, I thought.
‘I’m making the Ipswich Pudding from an old recipe in here’ I said, indicating the history book I was holding.
“Oh, what’s that then?”
“It’s a local pudding that used to be made in Ipswich. I came across it in this book and thought I’d give it a go… it’s got a lot of almond in it” I added, taking extra care with my pronunciation.
“How interesting…” said the assistant, relaxing into the conversation now that she realised I had little to no interest in the odour of old men.
Anyway, you get the picture. With some helpful advice about baking with almonds I collected all the ingredients I needed and headed back to the Ipswich History kitchen.
The Ipswich Pudding dates back to the mid-1700s. There are several early recipes that state quantities differently, but essentially the ingredients themselves are more or less the same. The following recipe comes from Robert Malster’s book Ipswich: an A to Z of Local History, which he in turn quotes from the Ladies Companion of 1836:
- ¼ pint single cream
- 1 ½oz fresh white breadcrumbs
- 2oz caster sugar
- 4oz ground almond essence
- 3 eggs
- A little butter*
- Split Almonds for decoration
Grease 2pt oven dish.
Warm cream and pour over breadcrumbs, stir in sugar, ground almonds and almond essence. Beat one egg and two yolks and add to mixture. Whisk remaining egg whites till stiff and fold into almond mixture.
Pour into dish, add dots of butter and split almonds.
Bake in slow oven for about 1 ½ hours or until pudding is well risen and golden brown. Serve at once.
Serves 4 – 6 people.
So there you have it. Ipswich’s very own pudding. If you like almond there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it! Personally, I would recommend serving it with something, as otherwise it might be a little dry. I plumped for strawberry jam. Bon appetit!
*It’s worth noting that until the mid-19th century recipes in cookery books were very often imprecise with measurements leaving the reader to guess what was meant by instructions such as ‘a little butter’. The book that changed all this was Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families, 1845, which was the first to provide exact measurements and cooking times (Bryson, Bill, At Home, Doubleday, 2010, p.84).