To a pint of wood-ashes pour three quarts of boiling water, and either wash the cloths in the mixture without straining it, or give them two or three minutes boil in it first, then let the whole cool together; wash the cloths perfectly clean, and rinse them in abundance of water changing it several times: this both takes the grease off, and renders them very sweet. Two ounces of soda dissolved in a gallon of water will answer almost as well, providing the rinsing afterwards be carefully attended to.
Put them into a cullender, strew a handful of flour over them, and rub them with the hands to separate the lumps, and to detach the stalks; work them round in the cullender, and shake it well, when the small stalks and stones will fell through it. Next pour plenty of cold water over the currants, drain, and spread them on a soft cloth, press it over them to absorb the moisture, and then lay them on a very clean oven-tin, or a large dish, and dry them very gradually (or they will become hard), either in a cool oven, or before the fire, taking care in the latter case that they are not placed sufficiently near it for the ashes to fall amongst them. When they are perfectly dry, clear them entirely from the remaining stalks, and from every stone that may be amongst them. The best mode of detecting these is to lay the fruit at the far end of a large white dish, or sheet of paper, and to pass it lightly, and in very small portions, with the fingers, towards oneself, examining it closely as this is done.
Put the flour and salt into a bowl, and stir them together; whisk the eggs thoroughly, strain them through a fine hair-sieve, and add them very gradually to the flour; for if too much liquid be poured to it at once it will be full of lumps, and it is easy, with care, to keep the batter perfectly smooth. Beat it well and lightly, with the back of a strong wooden spoon, and after the eggs are added, thin it with milk to a proper consistency. The whites of the eggs beaten separately to a solid froth, and stirred gently into the mixture the instant before it is tied up for boiling, or before it is put into the oven to be baked, will render it remarkably light. When fruit is added to the batter, it must be made thicker than when it is served plain, or it will sink to the bottom of the pudding. Batter should never slick to the knife when it is Bent to table; it will do this both when a sufficient number of eggs are not mixed with it, and when it is not enough cooked. About four eggs to the half-pound of flour will make it firm enough to cut smoothly.
Clear off the skin from some fresh beef kidney-suet, and with a sharp knife slice it thin, free it entirely from fibre, and mince it very fine: six ounces thus prepared will be found quite sufficient for a pound of flour. Mix them well together, add half a teaspoonful of salt for meat puddings, and a third as much for fruit ones, and sufficient cold water to make the whole into a very firm paste; work it smooth, and roll it out of equal thickness when it is used. The weight of suet should be taken after it is minced. This crust is so much lighter, and more wholesome than that which is made with butter, that we cannot refrain from recommending it in preference to our readers. Some cooks merely slice the suet in thin shavings, mix it with the flour, and beat the crust with a paste roller, until the flour and suet are perfectly incorporated.
Flour, 2 lbs.; suet, 12 ozs.; salt, 1 teaspoonful; water, 1 pint.