Great nicety is to be observed in preparing every material used for boiled or baked puddings.
The eggs require to be well beaten, for which purpose, if many are to be done, a whisk is used; if tew, a three-pronged fork. The flour is dried and sifted. The currants are carefully cleaned, by putting them into a cullender, and pouring warm water over them; if very dirty, this is to be repeated two or three times, and after being dried in a dish before the fire, they are rubbed in a clean coarse cloth, all the stalks and stones picked out, and then a little flour dredged over them. The raisins are stoned with a small sharp-pointed knife; it is cleansed in a basin of water, which also receives the seed. The pudding cloth must be kept especially clean, or it will impart an unpleasant taste to anything that is boiled in it; and when taken off a pudding, it ought immediately to be laid in cold water, and af-terwaids well washed with soda or pearl-ashes in hot water. Just before being used for a rice, bread, or batter pudding, it should be dipped into hot water, wrung, shaken, and well dredged with flour; and for a plum, suet pudding, or any sort of fruit pudding in paste, it must be buttered before being floured.
The water should boil quick when the pudding is put in; and it should be moved about for a minute, for fear the ingredients should not mix.
When the pudding is done, a pan of cold water should be ready, and the pudding dipped into it as soon as it comes out of the pot, which will prevent its adhering to the cloth.
A bread pudding should be tied loose; if batter, it must be tied tight over, and a batter pudding should be strained through a coarse sieve when all is mixed. In others, the eggs only. If you boil the pudding in a basin or pan, take care that it is always well buttered.
When you make your puddings without eggs, they must have as little milk as will mix, and must boil for three or four hours. A few spoonfuls of small beer, or one of yeast, is the best substitute for eggs. Your puddings will always be much lighter if you beat the yolks and whites of the eggs long and separately. You may, if you please, use snow instead of eggs, either in puddings or pancakes. Two large spoonfuls will supply the place of one egg; the snow may be taken up from any clean spot before it is wanted, and will not lose its virtue, though the sooner it is used the better.
All puddings in paste are tied tightly, but other puddings loosely, in the cloth. When a pudding is to be boiled in a shape, a niece of buttered white paper is put upon tin top of it, before the floured cloth is tied on. The pan, dish, or shape, in which the pudding is to be either boiled or baked, must always be buttered before it is filled. It is an improvement to puddings in general to let them stand some time after being prepared either for boiling or baking. When a pud ding is to be boiled, it must be put on in a covered pot, in plenty of boiling water, and never for a moment be allowed to be off the boil until ready to be served. As the water wastes, more, and always boiling, must,be added. A plum pudding is the better for being mixed the day before it is to be boiled. It may be useful to observe that this pudding will keep for months after it is dressed, if the cloth be allowed to remain upon it, and if, when cold, it be covered with a sheet of foolscap paper, and then hung up in a cool place. When about to be used, it must be put into a clean cloth, and again boiled for an hour; or it may be cut into slices, and broiled as wanted. If in breaking eggs a bad one should accidentally drop into the basin amongst the rest, the whole will be spoiled; and therefore they should be broken one by one into a tea-cup. When the whites only of eggs are required for a jelly, or other things, the yolks, if not broken, will keep good for three days, if the basin they are in be covered.
A slab of marble, stone, or slate, is preferable to wood for rolling out paste on. The rolling-pin, cutters, and every other implement used in these processes, must be kept particularly clean; they should always be washed immediately after being used, and then well dried. Before using butter for paste, it is laid for some time into cold water, which is changed once or twice. When salt butter is used, it is well worked in two or three waters' If it should not be convenient to make the paste immediately before it is baked, it will not suffer from standing, if made early in the morning, and the air excluded from it, by putting first a tin cover over the pie or tartlets, and above that a folded table-cloth. To ascertain if the oven be of a proper heat, a little bit of paste may be baked in it, before any thing else be put in. Puff paste requires lather a brisk oven. If too hot it binds the surface and prevents the steam from rising, and if too slow it becomes sodden and flat. Raised crusts require a quick oven; puffs and tartlets, which are filled with preserved fruit, are sufficiently done when the paste is baked. When large pies have been in the oven for a few minutes, a paper is put over them to prevent their being burned.