How to make Mother Eve’s pudding

A delicious pudding that’s a poem

Rhyming recipes used to be common in England, they date back to the days when few cooks could read or write.

The rhyming recipe that everyone knows comes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.

Disgusting. But delightful rhyming recipes do exist. These edible rhyming recipes may have been ways of memorising ingredients and cooking directions or they might have been made for pure poetic pleasure. Unfortunately not many have survived.

One recipe that reoccurs in many manuscript cookbooks, that is collections of (usually) handwritten recipes, is the one below.

It was found in a manuscript cookery book, given to me, which is more than 200 years old. It turns up regularly in other manuscript books such as the very beautiful Stephana Malcolm’s recipe book begun in 1790, held by the Scottish National Library.

Mother Eve’s Pudding

If you have a good pudding pray mind what you’re taught
Take two teeny worth of eggs when they’re twelve for a groat,
Then take of the fruit which Eve once did cozen,
Well pared and well chop’d at least half a dozen,
Six ounces of bread, let your maid eat the crust,
The crumb must be grated as small as the dust
Six ounces of currants from the stones you must sort,
Lest they break all your teeth & spoil all your sport,
Six ounces of sugar won’t make it too sweet,
Some salt, and some nutmeg, the whole will complete
Three hours let it boil without hurry or flutter
And by way of improvement add good melted butter
A little brandy in the composition
Will be deemed a great acquisition
Adam tasted the pudding & said ’twas wondrous nice,
Then begged Mother Eve to cut him another slice.

Handwritten recipe for Mother Eve's Pudding