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A Receipt for a Pudding in Verse

September 25, 2012

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!

A Receipt for a Pudding in Rhyme from Martha Lloyd's Household Book ©Jane Austen's House Museum Blog

A Receipt for a Pudding in Rhyme from Martha Lloyd’s Household Book ©Jane Austen’s House Museum Blog

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.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2012 12:03 pm

    This is fun! I just might have to start writing my recipes this way. :0)

    • September 30, 2012 12:00 am

      My thoughts exactly 😀 .

      • jfwakefield permalink*
        October 2, 2012 1:52 pm

        Thanks for commenting, Ana 🙂

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      October 2, 2012 1:50 pm

      Its very clever isn’t it? I’d love to see them if you do 😉

  2. Lila permalink
    September 25, 2012 4:02 pm

    This is very ingenious! And amusing =)

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      October 2, 2012 1:50 pm

      Yes,I agree, Lila: it gives you an indication, I think of the type of household they had, where word play was part of everyday life.

  3. cathyallen permalink
    September 25, 2012 4:07 pm

    WOW! How very clever of Mrs. Austen! But then this family produced one of the cleverest writers in the English language, so it’s no wonder the rest of them were clever, too! That was delightful, thank you, Julie.

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      October 2, 2012 1:51 pm

      My pleasure. It is a very clever thing to have done, and as you say, we should not really be surprised at Mrs Austen’s skill with words 🙂

  4. aurora permalink
    September 25, 2012 6:35 pm

    This is cute and lovely. Thank you for posting it!

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      October 2, 2012 1:52 pm

      My pleasure,and thank you for commenting, aurora.

  5. Beatrice permalink
    October 1, 2012 1:03 pm

    I have made this recipe and it is lovely. It is a very rich bread and butter pudding. Some people claim to have modernized it, but their versions are never as good.

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      October 2, 2012 1:52 pm

      How interesting! I am glad to hear that it is a good recipe, and that you enjoyed it.

  6. Aline permalink
    October 1, 2012 1:04 pm

    Poetry and recipes… What a lovely idea!

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      October 2, 2012 1:53 pm

      It certainly is….fun and instructive 😉

  7. October 2, 2012 3:04 pm


    • jfwakefield permalink*
      October 4, 2012 8:40 am

      Thank Moni, it is a very interesting way to record a recipe;)

  8. Deanna permalink
    October 3, 2012 11:35 pm

    Fantastic! If only today we could all rely on the simplicity of such amusements…This is a great reminder of what is simple but lovely. Great post. Gave me a hearty giggle and smile.

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      October 4, 2012 8:42 am

      Hello Deana, how lovely to “see” you here! Thanks so much, I’m very glad you enjoyed the post 😉


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