A Receipt for a Pudding in Verse
Martha Lloyd’s Household book is on display at the Museum throughout this year -The Year of at Home with the Austens- and some of the entries in it are very unusual.
Martha was the sister of Mary Lloyd who married Jane Austen’s eldest brother, James. She lived with Jane Austen, her sister, Cassandra and their mother, Mrs Austen at Chawton.
Their household was, of course, very literary minded, and this was, interestingly, reflected in some of the entries in Martha’s manuscript recipe book. It might surprise you to note that Jane Austen was not the only person who wrote in her family: Mrs Austen was also a writer of verses. It is considered that she may be the author of the following recipe - A Receipt for a Pudding- a bread-based pudding typical of many pudding recipes of the 18th century, which is written wholly in rhyme. It is a good example of the Austen family sense of humour at play!
Here is a the poem/recipe, transcribed in its entirety, for you to read:
If the vicar you treat,
You must give him to eat,
A pudding to his affection,
And to make his repast,
By the canon of taste,
Be the present receipt your direction.
First take 2 lbs of bread,
Be the crumb only weigh’d
For crust the good housewife refuses.
The proportions you’ll guess
May be made more or less
To the size the family chuses.(sic)
Then its sweetness to make;
Some currants you take,
And sugar, of each half a pound
Be not butter forgot.
And the quantity sought
Must be the same wit your currants be found.
Cloves and mace you will want,
With rose water I grant,
And more savoury things if well chosen.
Then to bind each ingredient,
You’ll find it expedient,
Of eggs to put in half a dozen.
Some milk, don’t refuse it,
But boil as you use it,
A proper hint for the maker.
And the whole when compleat (sic)
With care recommend the baker.
In praise of this pudding,
I vouch it a good one,
Or should you suspect a fond word,
To every guest,
Perhaps it is best,
Two puddings should smoke on the board.
Two puddings! – yet – no,
For if one will do
The other comes in out of season;
And these lines but obey,
Nor can anyone say,
That this pudding’s without rhyme or reason.