Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mrs. Beeton's Plum Cake

by Barbara Monajem

Originally, I was going to blog about banana cream pie, as a tie-in to novella about a vampire who owns a food fight club. Banana cream pie was one of the club specialties, and it’s one of my favorites as well. But the anthology with the novella in it was postponed, so since I write historical romances as well, I decided to go that route instead.

I’ve been messing around with old-fashioned cookbooks for a while now. I didn’t think you’d have much use for artificial asses’ milk (excellent for invalids and those otherwise lacking in –ahem– vigor) or Dr. Ratcliffe’s Restorative Pork Jelly (a lovely broth, good for making Chinese soup, but I had to buy a huge hunk of pork leg to make only half the recipe). Instead, here’s a recipe for plum cake (which contains no plums, although it probably did at some point in the distant past). I adapted this recipe from a Victorian cookbook, Beeton’s Book of Household Management, changed a few items, and baked it the Christmas before last (hence the holly in the photo).  

“A Nice Plum Cake” 

3 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. soda

½ tsp. salt

1-1/2 cups currants

1/3 cup diced candied lemon peel

1 stick butter

1-1/4 cups milk

Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out more or less clean. It’s good! There was too much batter for one loaf pan, so I made six muffins with the rest, and they were fine, too. 


 Barbara Monajem wrote her first story in third grade about apple tree gnomes. After dabbling in neighborhood musicals and teen melodrama, she published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. Now her kids are adults, and she's writing historical and paranormal romance for grownups. She lives in Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

Coming August 1 in all


  1. I love old cookbooks! They really provide a window to the past, don't they. This "plum" cake sounds delish! I love currants. Thanks, Barbara!

  2. This looks really good, Barbara. My kind of cake -- not too sweet. I'm going to see if it will work for gluten free flours.

  3. Holly, I rushed to check Mrs. Beeton's in case I'd totally screwed up, but -- no eggs. Whew.

    I tried another of Mrs. Beeton's recipes not long ago -- puff pastry with a custard and apple filling -- that had tons of eggs and butter. TOO RICH!

    Elizabeth, I love old cookbooks, too. I've found several on Google Books and just wish I had more time to try the recipes.

  4. I'm so amazed to hear about Mrs. Beeton. When I was a kid I found an old book in the house we'd just moved into. Even though it was a recipe book and not as exciting as some I read it. (There were never enough books around for me.) Some of the recipes were fair strange. I remember something about goose fat and something and something to put on your chest when you were sick.

    Thank you for this!

  5. Eve -- LOL, I would have remembered the goose fat, too. :)

  6. No eggs. Interesting. How does it bind, I wonder? Holly, I'll try a gluten-free version, too, and we'll check out our recipes. :)

    My grandmother had a plum pudding with no plums. I wonder if plum just meant good, in this instance!

    Barbara, isn't your cover rife with lust? Do you ever get to sit in on a photo shoot? LOL

  7. Avery -- Yes, it's a lusty picture, isn't it? She sure looks like she's enjoying herself. I was particularly pleased with this cover, as it perfectly fits the story of a woman who has been forced by circumstance to suppress her nature -- and then finally lets go with the man she loves.

  8. I wonder if it did have plums? It sounds absolutely yummy to me!!! And pretty easy too!

  9. Mary, I may try chopped prunes in it next time, just because.

  10. Barbara, it's a beautiful cake, and sounds quite good, too.

    As for goose fat, I know it sounds horrible, but it's supposed to be one of the healthy fats. Add a little salt and garlic, and it's really good! It's used commonly in Europe. Makes fantastic fried potatoes!

    ~ Krista

  11. Krista, if I had some goose fat, I would!

    When I made the pork broth mentioned above, I got the loveliest clear white lard on top.

  12. I love wandering through old cookbooks. Have you looked at "The Virginia Huswife" by Mary Randolph? She was a cousin of Thomas Jefferson. It's the first American cookbook.

  13. Patricia -- No, I haven't! Thanks for mentioning it. I'll definitely take a look. :)

  14. Enjoyed your post and your lovely recipe, Barbara. this is a fun site. I've never been here before.

  15. It is fun, isn't it -- great recipes and great mysteries!!

  16. Yum! Sounds delicious. I've copied the recipe to try. And your cover is stunning!

  17. Thanks, Nitethyme, and kudos to the art people at Harlequin.

  18. Barbara, I could have sworn I left a comment yesterday. Must have forgotten to submit. LOL This is an easy recipe I can try. Waiting for The Wanton Governess.