Oddly, this post did not come about through any sort of bookish research—or at least, not directly.
My child is six. He recently watched Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and then listened to the amazing Shakespearean actor Jim Dale read the Peter and the Star Catchers series. He is suddenly speaking in a British accent. Often.
So, we’re driving along on the way home from dinner out, the car is quiet, we’re all enjoying the early summer evening and our full bellies, when a small voice from the back seat says: “I’d still like some pudding when we return to London.”
In full British accent.
Mr. Alexander and I, being rather pragmatic people, respond in unison: “Are you going to London?”
(Note: We live in the Midwest of the US. London is just a little far for an evening trip.)
Clearly, he was repeating a phrase from one of said movies/books. But the fun part is the pudding. The small child, of course, is thinking J-E-L-L-O pudding. Again, being pragmatic people, Mr. Alexander and I feel the need to explain that British pudding is not the same as the pudding we have here in the US.
Being a writer of historical romance, I naturally haul out my copy of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. The original was published in 1861, and though that’s a bit later than the time period I write, a good, solid recipe doesn’t just come into being. Not in those days. They were handed down from generation to generation, tweaked, modified, and handed down again. And while there were certainly innovative cooks then, the recipes in Mrs. Beeton’s are not the sort you’d find a famous chef’s private collection. They are tried and true recipes used by real people.
As my family and I were reading about Pease Pudding, Rolled Treacle Pudding and Canary Pudding (I promise, no birds in that one), I discovered the recipe for Dampfnudeln, or German Pudding.
Just say that out loud. Dampfnudeln. Damp-fa-noodle-n.
I have to say, the name just tickled me. For the rest of the night I kept saying dampfnudeln and giggling to myself. Sounds like a costume involving lederhosen crossed with something a bit naughty, doesn’t it? I wondered if dampfnudeln could be featured in my next love scene. But, alas, I don’t think so.
What, exactly, is dampfnudeln? Using my Google-Fu, I discovered it’s a roll, or a steam dumpling. What fascinated me is not only are they eaten today, but Mrs. Beeton shared that German recipe with her readers in the 1800’s. The instructions aren’t as easy to follow as the recipes in my latest food magazine, however. “Rather more than a ¼ pint of warm milk” and “very little salt” are included as ingredients. For someone like me, that’s just asking for baking trouble!
Behold, Mrs. Beeton’s recipe, as it appears in the book:
I have half a mind to try the recipe! Only, I don’t have a fireplace to let the dampfnudeln rise beside, and I don’t suppose heating up my oven and simply opening the door would work, do you?