Marlborough Pudding is a custard-based pie baked in a single bottom crust.
The custard is made from cream, eggs, sugar, puréed apples (aka apple sauce), lemon (and in some versions, wine.) Some variations grated the apples instead of puréeing, some used melted butter instead of cream.
Some versions would have you put a lattice-work top on it; some would call for a meringue top, but most seem to have left the top plain.
By 1902, a version had appeared that dropped the apple sauce, and basically made it a custard flavoured with citrus peel.
Marlborough Pudding is an English dish that came over to America with the colonists.
It was a recipe made at holidays, particularly Thanksgiving, and for holidays. In early New England, it was served at the same time as the turkey and the vegetables.
It was always a favoured Thanksgiving dessert in America. No one is quite sure why it fell so far out of favour that now the general population has no idea what it is.
A pie called “Marlborough’s Ipswich Almond Pudding” was a crustless pie baked in a pie dish. It had breadcrumbs in it to give it substance. It was a mixture of cream, breadcrumbs, sugar, ground almonds, eggs and butter that were poured into a greased pie dish, and baked.
Marlborough Pudding in all but name appeared in the Household Book compiled by a woman named Martha Lloyd (sister-in-law of Jane Austen): “A Baked Apple Pudding (with Pastry): Take a dozen of pippens, pulp them through your cullender, take six eggs, sugar enough to make sweet, the rind of two lemons grated, a 1/4 of a lb of butter (melted with flour or water). Squeeze the juice of the two lemons, let the apples be cold before the ingredients are put together. Make a puff paste in the bottom of the dish, half an hour bakes it.”
— from: “A Jane Austen Household Book” by Peggy Hickman, David & Charles, Ltd. 1977.
The presence of lemons indicated a certain degree of affluence.
Literature & Lore
“MARLBOROUGH PIE. Line a pie plate with very thin puff paste. Take half a cup of mixed orange, lemon and citron peel. Strew these in the bottom of the dish. Beat the yolks of four eggs with a cup of butter and scant cup of sugar. Heat in a double boiler until melted; then flavor with orange juice and [a] little grated peel. Pour into the dish and bake three-quarters of an hour.”
— Table and Kitchen Column. Trenton, New Jersey. The Trenton Times. Thursday, 23 January 1902. Page 6.
MARLBOROUGH PIE IS NOT NEW KIND:
Marlborough pie evidently is no new type; recipts [sic] for it are found in old English books. Any good paste is used to line the plate and lattice it across the top. The filling for two pies is as follows:
2 cups applesauce or 6 good, tart, well-flavored apples, washed, pared, cooked and ratted [sic] through a sieve
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
Grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
Yolks of 5 eggs or 5 whole eggs.
Turn into plates lined with the paste. Bake in a moderately hot oven 60 minutes, or until the filling is firm. If desired, the whites of the eggs may be reserved and a meringue made by heating them stiffly and adding 3/4 cup of sugar. Flavor with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, divide equally between the two pies when they are baked, then return to oven and cook eight minutes, being careful that the meringue does not brown. Of course, when the meringue is used, the tops of the pies are not latticed.”
— Bertha E. Shapleigh of Columbia University. Favorite Recipes column. Decatur, Illinois. The Decatur Review. Monday, 15 January 1923. Evening edition. Page 4.