The Pudding Lady is Florence Petty, forgotten champion of the downtrodden and tireless nutritional reformer from the first half of the twentieth century. This, like all her recipes, represents an effort to describe a palatable dish using ingredients that the working poor of British cities could afford. It is worthy of any table, however grand. Four or so wedges of pudding.
- about six stalks of celery, trimmed and cut crosswise into ½ in curls
- heaped Tablespoon flour (preferably Wondra)
- 8 oz milk
- heaped ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- scant ½ teaspoon celery seed
- scant ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- even less mace
- 2 separated eggs
- 1 Tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- Boil the celery with a little salt until just tender, usually in about 15 minutes, and drain it ruthlessly (you do not want soggy pudding).
Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Whisk the flour, milk, baking soda, celery seed, cayenne, mace and egg yolks into a smooth batter.
- Beat the eggwhites stiff, then fold them gently into the batter
- Quickly scatter the celery thorough the dish, followed by the cheese.
- Pour the batter into the pie dish and bake the pudding until almost set, usually in a little more than half an hour.
- Let the pudding set, tented with aluminum foil, for about 15 minutes before service as a light main or rich side dish.
-Petty’s lodestar was simple thrift, so she specifies margarine instead of oil and butter, and omits seasonings superfluous to subsistence like the celery seed, cayenne and mace. They are welcome additions to the recipe.
-The recipe itself both assumes a certain basic competence in the kitchen and neglects some of its ingredients. It includes ten ounces of water without explanation, presumably for boiling the celery. No use for the margarine is specified, but batter puddings were so ubiquitous in the Britain of Petty’s time that most cooks would have known how to bake one.
-Traditional batter pudding recipes seldom include baking soda but it does no harm in giving a slight lift to the finished pastry. Miss Petty’s frugal toad in the hole represents an exception, doubtless because it dispenses with eggs and requires a cheaper leavening alternative.
-Fennel works equally well here. Omit the celery seed and mace if you choose it.