What the Dickens! Victorian desserts make a glorious comeback as Brits turn to comfort food in hard times

6 Feb

British bakers are turning to Victorian desserts in a bid to banish money worries.

Spotted dick, Bakewell tart and steamed treacle puds are all leading a remarkable revival that comes during the bicentenary of the birth of the period’s eminent author Charles Dickens.

Experts say the renaissance of vintage favourites, which also includes coconut pudding, Eve’s pudding and Bramley apple tart, points at people turning to comfort food during uncertain times.

spotted dick

Popular again: Spotted Dick (above) is among a number of Victorian favourites experiencing a revival as Brits seek to overcome money troubles


Food historian Caroline Yeldham said Victorian puddings went out of fashion in the 1920s and 1930s because of the time it took to make them.

Better refrigeration techniques also meant that simpler and lighter sweets, such as ice cream, could be kept easier.

‘The Victorian era was a time of boom and bust. It was of irresponsible bankers and businessmen, as satirised in Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now,’ she told the Independent on Sunday


Flying off the shelves: Waitrose has reported big rises in sales of traditional desserts such as Bakewell tarts, Eve’s pudding and apple tarts

‘What people wanted from their food was comfort, and this is solid, comforting food.’

Leading retailers seem to agree, with Asda saying sales of steamed puddings in jam, coconut and syrup flavours are up 33 per cent year on year

Sponge and currant spotted dick is up 39 per cent on last year, bread and butter pudding up 25 per cent and Bramley apple crumble up 56 per cent.BBC GETTY IMAGES

Waitrose has also seen similar rises, with Bakewell tart up 43 per cent, treacle tart up 30 per cent and Eve’s pudding, made with apple and sponge, up 23 per cent.

High-brow restaurants, including Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner and Mark Hix’s eatery, are also introducing the cuisine.

Ronnie Murray, group pastry chef at Hix Restaurants, said: ‘We are going back to old classics, reinventing those and making sure they’re done really well.’

And the National Trust, who worked with Yeldham and breadmakers Allinson in reviving the lemon-flavoured Winifred pudding, is now selling it at its properties nationwide.

It is based on a recipe by Victorian breadmaker and former doctor Thomas Allinson, who was struck off the medical register in 1892 for his radical views which saw him promoting healthy eating.



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