Last year when I first started looking at recipes for the Historical Food Fortnightly I came across a recipe for Potato Cheesecake in The Antipodean Cookbook. This recipe, which has no cheese, no flour and doesn’t have instructions for baking, was unlike any other recipe I had come across. Having looked at a lot more cookbooks since then, I’ve found that there are actually quite a few similar potato recipes.
Potato Cheese Cake – Ingredients: 3 or 4 boiled potatoes, 1 tablespoonful butter, 1 tablespoonful sugar, 2 eggs, grated peel and juice of 1 lemon, 2 teaspoonfuls brandy, and a few currants. Mode: Mash the 3 or 4 potatoes quite smooth. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and stir in the potato, the sugar, and eggs well beaten. Stir over the fire till it thickens, then add the grated peel and the lemon juice, the brandy, and lastly a few well-washed currants.
These recipes were both sweet and savoury, sometimes baked in a pie case and sometimes without, and they lasted from at least the mid-18th century to the end of the 19th. It’s not hard to understand why these puddings would have been popular, they are basically all cheap starch, flavoured with relatively small amounts of more expensive ingredients – brandy, citrus fruits, currants, sugar, or a little spice. They are also quite an appetising way of using up left over boiled potatoes, The Family Save-All specifically recommends saving up the potatoes left from two or three days meals. I also quite like that it is recommended for children, “children of larger growth”, invalids and the elderly, i.e. everyone.
I was a bit suspicious of adding marmalade though, so in the end I went with the savoury version of the pudding and served it with gravy. I’ll have to come back when I’m feeling more adventurous and try one of the sweet recipes.
An Excellent Potato Pudding
6 large potatoes
Salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 200˚C. Peel, chop and boil the potatoes if you aren’t using left over potatoes. Mash them well and stir in the beaten eggs and milk. Season well.
- Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish and smooth the top or make patterns in it with a fork. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the top has formed a golden crust. Serve hot with gravy.
The Recipe: An Excellent Family Pudding of Cold Potatoes, with Eggs etc. from The Family Save-All by Robert Kemp Philp (available here, pg. 90)
The Date: 1861
How did you make it? See above.
Time to complete?: About an hour.
How successful was it?: It was hot, starchy and quite plain. It was a bit like eating very smooth mashed potatoes. It definitely needed more seasoning.
How accurate?: Pretty good, but I wasn’t sure if the instruction to add sugar was for both versions, or just the sweet version. In the end I didn’t add it, but that may have been the wrong choice.
 Mrs. Lance Rawson, Antipodean Cookery Book and Kitchen Companion, Facsimile of 2nd ed. (Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press Pty.Ltd, 1992), 34–35.
Harrison, Sarah. The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book; And Compleat Family Cook. 4th ed. London: Printed for R. Ware, at the Bible and Sun on Ludgate-Hill, 1748.
Philp, Robert Kemp. The Family Save-All, a System of Secondary Cookery. By the Editor of “Enquire Within”. 2nd ed. London: W. Kent and co., 1861.
Rawson, Mrs. Lance. Antipodean Cookery Book and Kitchen Companion. Facsimile of 2nd ed. Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press Pty.Ltd, 1992.