A Penny Loaf Made my Head Hurt

I was writing and then I needed to know some details about food in the Regency and so, off to Google Books Advanced Search.  . . . two hours later . . . I came across an interesting recipe for bread pudding, which I happen to love.

image of a recipe. Text below!



Bread pudding

Take the crumb of a penny loaf, and pour on it a pint of good milk boiling hot, when it is cold, beat it very fine, with two ounces of butter and sugar to your palate, grate half a nutmeg in it, beat it up with four eggs, and put them in and beat altogether near half an hour, tie it in a cloth and boil it an hour, you may put in half a pound of currants for change, and pour over it white wine sauce.

To make a boiled bread pudding a second way.

Take the inside of a penny loaf, grate it fine, add it to two ounces of butter, take a pint and a half of milk, with a stick of cinnamon; boil it and pour it over the bread, and cover it close until it is cold, then take six eggs beat up very well with rose water, mix them all well together, sweet to your taste, and boil it one hour.

I figured it would be interesting to attempt this. My first hurdle is figuring out the size of a penny loaf. It turns out the size/weight of a penny loaf was dependent on the cost of wheat. I read a bunch and saw all the formulas and as near as I can tell a penny loaf had to weigh anywhere from 11 to 16 troy ounces.  A troy ounce is 31.1034768 g (1.097142857143 ounces.)  Some more googleing . . . .

16 troy ounces is 17.554285714288 regular ounces.

Let’s just say a penny loaf is about 16 ounces. I’ll get some bread and attempt this. I’ll report back.



2 Responses to “A Penny Loaf Made my Head Hurt”

  1. Gaynor says:

    I could read the recipe ok, but a penny loaf? I also love the way the S is smitten then!
    I thought an authors job was easy lol. You sat at your desk, waited for inspiration and off you went, just looking up a few reference books if and when necessary. I am obviously totally, utterly, wrong. I am just waited, bated breath, on tenterhooks, for your next book, due out about now I think.
    Have you read The Diary of a Farmers Wife 1796 to 1797? Love the primrose wine she makes, mainly brandy! I love that book, just a year in her life then she stops the diary as she is expecting a baby and has no time, I wanted to know about the rest of her life!

  2. I have not read that diary! I should go look for it. Regarding the long S: from Wikipedia “In general, the long s fell out of use in Roman and italic typefaces in professional printing well before the middle of the 19th century. It “rarely appears in good quality London printing after 1800, though it lingers provincially until 1824, and is found in handwriting into the second half of the nineteenth century”[6] as well as in printed collections of sermons. Woodhouse’s “The Principles of Analytical Calculation”, published by the Cambridge University Press in 1803 uses the long ‘s’ throughout its roman text.”

    In Google books, the OCR tends to convert that long S as an F, so when searching material before 1815 or so, it’s a good idea when searching terms or words with S to also add a version with F substituted. Interesting fact. To me. (grin)