Posts Tagged With: White House Cookbook

Rhubarb Time Machine: Rhubarb or Pie plant Pudding — White House Cookbook


I was surprised at how nostalgic I got testing rhubarb pudding from the White House Cookbook. My mind swam with memories of grandfatherly teasing, vast forests of rhubarb’s elephant ear leaves in my great grandparent’s victory garden, mom’s stabbed toe, a pleasantly shocked Spanish face, regular begging from friends for this or that rhubarb recipe. I just don’t know if I ever knew life could exist without it. It was so ubiquitous in my life. My Beloved claims the same–no remembered introduction. It was, well, just… there. It was always there in the garden and on the plate. Discussing it around the dinner table provoked a lot of memories for everybody. Perhaps rhubarb is the time machine we’ve all searched for. Maybe every forkful is another spin backwards on the decade dial. Felt like it tonight.


The recipe for rhubarb pudding in the White House Cookbook was so vague that when I realized how much research it might take, I wondered if it would be a multi-trial recipe like Orange Float. I panicked a little. I admit it. But I’m too stubborn to give up that easily. I decided to do this recipe because I’m spending a little time with the home folks and thought I’d raid Mom’s garden. It was bound to be flush with rhubarb. It always is every summer. I’ve never known rhubarb to fail her. Ever.

At first glance, the rhubarb pudding looked like a cobbler but so many online or book recipes didn’t seem to share the same quantities of eggs, butter or milk. There was no sugar to be added and the flour was a guessing game. I tried googling the basic ingredients and kept coming up with hits for pancake or waffle recipes. Somehow the idea of pancake and sweetened rhubarb didn’t seem bad but I wasn’t convinced until my mother popped open a book with the pancake recipe she’s always used. There, in front of me, was a near exact copy of almost every element except the little bit of sugar. I was worried but I plunged ahead and made a mix of rhubarb with cobbler quantities of sugar added to it. I mixed up all the ingredients until the flour and added it quarter cup by quarter cup only to find that my original estimate had been bang on. When I put the two parts in the glass dish, I wasn’t convinced anything great would happen. I really didn’t think it looked promising since I didn’t even know what temperature to use in the oven. I decided on 375 degrees. I now think it might have been better lower but it wasn’t that bad of a guess. Even the doubtfulness on inverting the pudding on a plate was unnecessary. It popped out perfectly after some cooling.


The results were pronounce by all my guinea pigs to be quite edible, some preferring to add the proffered cream and some ate without any enhancements. It’s pretty much all eaten up now. I guess, if anything, how much food left is a sign of its success or failure. Success it is, then, with some minor adjustments. I’ll update you on those later.



Chop rhubarb pretty fine, put in a pudding dish and sprinkle sugar over it; make a batter of one cupful of sour milk, two eggs, a piece of butter the size of an egg, half a teaspoonful of soda and enough flour to make batter about as thick as for cake. Spread it over the rhubarb and bake till done. Turn out on a platter upside down, so that the rhubarb will be on top. Serve with sugar and cream.


RHUBARB OR PIE-PLANT PUDDING.— based on original recipe

2 cups rhubarb, finely chopped

1 cup white sugar

1 cup sour milk (this can be made with a near cup of milk and Tbsp of lemon juice)

2 eggs

1/4 cup salted butter, melted

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups white flour

1. Mix rhubarb and white sugar together in a bowl. Set aside*

2. Mix baking soda and flour together into bowl.

3. Make a well in the center. Add sour milk, eggs and melted butter; mix together until smooth.

4. In a lightly buttered round glass casserole dish, put sugared rhubarb on bottom and cover completely with batter.

5. Place dish into an oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or when golden around the edges and a toothpick comes clean from the center.

6. Allow to cool to room temperature. Slide a butter knife around the edges of the batter to detach from glass. Quickly invert pudding over a waiting dish. With the cooling, it should come out in once piece. This can be served with cream and sugar (white or powdered).


Categories: dumplings and puddings, still testing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Summer in a Cup–Orange Float (White House Cookbook)


I know a lot of people who talk about eating oranges in the winter to get a little taste of the sun during the long, grey days but sometimes, I think, it is important to remember how wonderful oranges are for a light dessert in the summer. Citrus hits all the right notes for a dessert on a scorching hot day—subtly sweet, just a punch of tang, gushing in the mouth. Yesterday, while we were Canada’s hot spot, and especially humid, my French Beloved and I completed our dinner with the results of my Orange Float kitchen tests. The trials took longer than expected but the final product pleased me not only in taste but managed to produce a small miracle. The Beloved doesn’t usually care for fruit desserts but pronounced it especially good and just right for the kind of sweltering weather. ‘Very light yet full of flavour,’ I think he said.

I have spent more time on this recipe than others because there really seemed to be a snag in the instructions. The sauce repeatedly didn’t turn out the way I believed it should. It called for four—yes, four—tablespoons of cornstarch. In my past experience that usually points to a sauce with at least some thickness. Yet, test after test seemed to squelch that notion if I tried following the instructions just as printed. I had to take matters into my own hands.

I googled the main ingredients and almost immediately came up with a lemon sauce recipe. Of course the quantities were different but it was the steps I was interested in. I took the same ingredients—sugar, water, cornstarch, lemon juice and pulp–and ended up with a very different creature. The original recipe calls for the sugar, water and lemon to be brought to a boil, corn starch added and then the whole thing boiled for fifteen minutes. Based on the tests, this just wasn’t going to happen. The outcome always resulted in a sauce that begged the question ‘Why bother adding cornstarch’ since it was so thin. I took the new googled recipe and used it as the basis. I took the same quantities but used their procedure rather than the original. The cornstarch and sugar were mixed together, the boiling water added to it, the mix gently brought to a boil and then the lemon and lemon pulp mixed in. It took less time than the original, too. The result was thicker and tangier.

Since I am going to quibble, in this recipe, with methods, I will also quibble with quantities. I don’t know how big Victorian oranges were but, if you supreme the oranges like I did, the four or five suggested isn’t enough. Eight or nine seems to be the better choice if you are using the Valencia oranges I used. I suppose it might be accurate for navel oranges but the juicy Valencias are smaller.

I can’t say for sure if I totally changed the dessert as it would have been eaten by the Victorians but the recipe provided the basis for one smashing dessert that I am bound to make many times in the future.


ORANGE FLOAT.– Original recipe

To make orange float, take one quart of water, the juice and pulp of two lemons, one coffeecupful of sugar. When boiling hot, add four tablespoonfuls of cornstarch. Let it boil fifteen minutes, stirring all the time. When cold, pour it over four or five oranges that have been sliced into a glass dish and over the top spread the beaten whites of three eggs, sweetened and flavored with vanilla. A nice dessert.


ORANGE FLOAT–based on original recipe

8-9 Valencia oranges

Lemon Sauce:

2 lemons

1 scant cup of white sugar

4 tbsp cornstarch

4 cups water

Meringue Topping:

3 eggs whites

6 tablespoon white sugar

¾ tsp vanilla flavouring

1)      Supreme the oranges—cut off the ends of the oranges right into the pulp. Cut off the peel, pith and outer membrane of the entire orange. You will see sections of orange. Slice your knife beside the membrane sections and pull out just the slice of inner flesh. You can see it pictorially here at Baking Bites.

2)      Set aside supremed orange sections in a glass or ceramic container along with the juice from the cutting board. Put in the fridge to chill until needed.

3)      Supreme the 2 lemons. Squish out a lot of the lemon juice from the sections into a glass or ceramic container but leave the pulp in the juice after squeezing. It will go into the sauce as well. Set aside.

4)      Put sugar and cornstarch into sauce pan. Stir until completely blended.

5)      Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a kettle. With kettle in one hand and spoon in the other, mix the hot water slowly into the sugar mix until all the water is in the sauce pan and the sugar and cornstarch are completely dissolved. Place sauce pan on stove element

6)      Put stove on medium heat and stir the liquid constantly. Gradually the liquid will thicken and then start to come to a boil, about 8 minutes.

7)      As soon as the liquid begins to boil, add the lemon pulp and juice. Turn down the heat to low. Mix the liquid until completely blended.

8)      Take sauce off the stove. Set aside and allow to cool. When cool enough, place sauce in the fridge until needed.

9)      Place egg whites into a metal bowl that has been completely washed of any fat or grease spots (a lemon juice wash helps). Begin to beat eggs until they start to froth thickly. Add one tablespoon of sugar and continue beating. Continue in this fashion until all the sugar is used up and the egg whites have at least reached the soft peak stage. Add vanilla and continue to beat for another minute.

10)  Set oven on low broil.

11)  If you are making individual bowls or glasses of the dessert, place parchment paper on a baking sheet and draw around the circumference of the bowl/glass on the paper with a pencil. Your meringues should be placed within those circles to fit the bowl/glass properly. If you are using a large container, you can do the same with the larger container on the parchment paper.

12)  Place small piles of meringue within the drawn circles on the parchment paper.

13)  Place baking sheet with meringues on a middle rack under the low broiler for 3 minutes, or until lightly toasted golden-brown.

14)  You can use the meringue at this stage or you can take out the meringues, turn the oven to 185 degrees and let them gently bake for about a half hour or until firmer.

15)  To put together as if in bowls or dessert glasses– place about 12 to 15 pieces of orange in the dessert cup, pour sauce over top orange sections, top with meringue cap.

16)  Enjoy.

Categories: creams and desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not So Lucky After All? — The ongoing saga of the Orange Float

I mentioned before that I was making Orange Float along with the Chicken Hash. Orange Float is a seemingly simple dessert but there are blips that seem to make this test a bit bumpier than other recipes so far.

The principle seems straightforward– cut oranges covered with a thick lemon-sugar sauce and topped by a meringue. The meringue has been easy to prepare although toasted for modern cooking standards. Two attempts on the oranges shows that supreming (cutting off pith and membranes) was better than the original slices I tried. The taste was far better in combination with the meringue and the sauce.

The sauce, however, appears to be a bit of a puzzle. The fact that a lot of cornstarch is to be added suggests a thick sauce but twice the sauce has cooled off to a thin syrupy liquid. On the first attempt I tried to follow what was asked, adding the corn starch, mixed with some of the hot liquid, into the sugar water and boiling the fifteen minutes.  Result… a whole lot of thin liquid that tasted lemony sweet and quite nice but seems too much for the amount of oranges. On the second attempt, I mix the cornstarch with some liquid held back from the lemon, sugar, water mixture adding it when it comes to a boil. It seems thickened but, following the directions, I let it boil the fifteen minutes. Again the result, when cooled, is thin and syrupy, only slightly thicker than the last try.  Frustrated, I think that maybe I’ll take the same liquid, make a corn starch slurry, add it to the cold sauce and let it heat up gradually, stirring all the time.  Oh, I got it thickened up all right but despite the lower heat and the constant stirring, the liquid began to burn on the bottom. I found that more upsetting than the thin liquid.

I will pursue on because, having eaten the result of the first try, it is a VERY nice summer dessert.

Categories: creams and desserts, still testing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Luck returned on Friday the 13th: Chicken Hash on Rice Toast — Whitehouse Cookbook


My oven is scared of organic chicken. That’s certainly what I thought since it was the last thing that my oven cooked before conking out. Yet, in some ways, the stars must have been aligned better than I hoped. When it first happened , I ran through all the griping in my head– Man, I just started this blog, too; Only YOU would be mad your oven isn’t working during a heat wave; I live five hours away from any kind of big town… where will the part come from;  It’s just an element but now I have no stove at all because the connecting wire disappeared; Can I manage another no-cook drink?  As opportunity would have it, the repairman found the odd type of element I needed from a happenstance encounter with another repairman in our valley who said ‘Oh, that? I have what you’re looking for here in my truck’.  !!!   Since it was apparently an uncommon element, the odds of my oven getting fixed this quickly (along with the really fast sourcing of the elusive wire) was somewhat remote but — I am back in business! Somebody up there wanted to see my next dish, methinks.

I made two dishes today– Chicken Hash on Rice Toast and Orange Float.  Both of them need to be fiddled with but the chicken less so. I’ll tell you about the chicken today. I’ll save up the Orange Float for tomorrow. Maybe I’ll even do round two tomorrow morning.

Firstly, it was important to me, despite the greater expense, to use an organic chicken for this recipe since that was closer to what would have been used  for the original recipe. On the first eating, my French Beloved pronounced it properly chicken because, paraphrasing his father, ‘A good chicken tastes just a little like chicken poop’.  Apparently it did. I’m not quite sure what he’s talking about as I am not in the habit of consuming chicken dirties. I’ll have to take his word for it. All I know is that it definitely tasted more real than the factory chickens so prevelent at any average store.

This is a multi-stage recipe so don’t expect to make it in a night. A full day, perhaps or, better yet, a two day deal. The rice for the rice toast needs its time to form into a little loaf and cool off. You need time to pick all the meat off the chicken bones and chop it up small. But it’s worth it. It is what I would call a ‘plain dish’. It’s a dish that’s easy to imagine my great-grandmother cooking up for lunch on the farm back east, maybe tut-tutting about ‘waste not, want not’.

The chicken part of the dish is pretty much perfect for our tastes at home here but the rice needs a little working. First error was not to salt the water at all for the rice. Believe me, it’ll make a difference. I guess it was just understood to add salt to the water since it was never mentioned in the actual recipe. You obviously don’t have to but the contrast with the seasoned chicken made the rice seem all the plainer, despite the toasting. The timing in my recipe for the toasting may be a bit off and I’ll need to try it again to be quite certain on timing since I broiled on low for one side and high on the other. It would probably change the texture of the rice just a little. I think, despite the suggestion the original recipe gives of waiting for a light browning, just test the top for crispness. I found the brown bits a bit too crunchy for my taste although The Beloved was fine with it.



Boil a cup of rice the night before; put it into a square, narrow bread-pan, set it in the ice-box. Next morning cut it in half inch slices, rub over each slice a little warm butter and toast them on a broiler to a delicate brown. Arrange the toast on a warm platter and turn over the whole a chicken hash made from the remains of cold fowl, the meat picked from the bones, chopped fine, put into the frying pan with butter and a little water to moisten it, adding pepper and salt. Heat hot all through. Serve immediately.



1 cup rice

2 cups water (salted to taste)

2 tbsp soft butter*

4 cups cold cooked chicken, pulled from the bone and chopped fine

4 tbsp butter*

¼ tsp of ground pepper, or to taste

¼ tsp of sea salt, or to taste

¼ cup of water

1) The night before you wish to make this dish, begin rice cake. Bring salted water to a boil. Add rice, stir and turn heat down to minimum, covering the pot with a lid. Let steam 15 minutes. Without removing the lid, pull the rice off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes to continue steaming


2) In a narrow bread pan (8 x 3 ¾ in.) immediately begin spooning some of the hot rice. When a quarter of the rice is in the pan, press downwards into the pan to make the rice compact. Spoon more rice in and continue packing the rice downwards until all the rice is used up and the rice is completely packed down. Cover the pan with tin foil and put into the fridge over night.


3) The next day, bring the rice pan out of the fridge and empty out on to a cutting board. It should come out like one brick if the rice has been pressed tightly. Cut into ½ inch slices. It should make about ten slices.


4) Slather a thin layer of butter on both sides of each slice of rice. Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with tin foil.



5) Place broiler and toast until the butter is melted and the rice begins to feel crisp to the touch. Flip pieces and continue broiling on the other side until the other side feels crisp to the touch, around 3-8 minutes each side, depending on the broiler.

6) Meanwhile, in a cast iron pan, melt 4 tbsp of butter over a medium heat and add the chicken hash. Stir regularly until chicken is hot and a bit coloured, around 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add more to taste, if needed. Stir in ¼ cup of water to chicken for moisture. Lower temperature and stir occasionally while rice toasts are finishing.


7) On a warm platter, place rice toasts around the edges, Pour hot chicken over the center of the rice toasts. Serve at once.



Serves 5, 3 generously.

* Butter I used was President’s Choice Normandy Style cultured butter, salted.

Categories: Bread--Toast | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Strawberry Water–Whitehouse Cookbook


You’ll find me loathe to buy strawberries in winter. Goodness knows you can find heaps of them in the supermarkets but who want the cottony, over-toothy rind that barely smacks of strawberry taste and  has a vastly insipid colour within, let alone without?  The heights of real strawberry season (for Canada) has peaked and is now on its downward trend but the berries are still quite nice–even shipped in from California. They even taste like strawberries. The bite feels right on the teeth.

Perhaps I tasted wonderful strawberries in the past. I must have for I have a defined idea of what a real strawberry tastes like off the plant. I just don’t recall from where this pinnacle strawberry taste hails. What I do know is that I only tasted that perfection two times in recent memory—a roadside wild strawberry of pinky-nail proportions and gigantic taste  and the carton of Plougastel strawberries during a French summer—red, thumb-sized beauties that could outshine any supermarket monstrosities.

I live in the land of those wild strawberries now but the weather has not cooperated for taste and little fingers and paws often get to them before I do. So, for now, I have to make do with the acceptable strawberries of the grocery store while they are in season.

Strawberries are far more season appropriate than split pea soup so I aimed to make a Victorian fruit juice for the summer time. I hit a snag the first time I wanted to make it because the store had already run out of strawberries by the time I got there. So I had to wait until yesterday for the next shipment.

Strawberry Water, as it is known in the Whitehouse Cookbook, is a refreshing summer’s drink. It’s fairly sweet so it would probably satisfy a child’s cravings but it doesn’t taste fake. It really tastes like strawberries. Organic, plant-ripened strawberries would be the best so I had to make do with the strawberries that still had some harder interior white bits.

This isn’t a “take it out of the freezer and have on the table in a few minutes” kind of summer drink. It will take some time. I’d probably need to do it again without the camera constantly clicking to get an accurate measure of time but it was probably closer to 15 to 20 minutes. It makes you  appreciate the time people actually spent on these kind of projects. It makes you want the very best whole food with which to make your meals. It makes you question how our society ever got convinced that “fast and cheap” became acceptable on the family table.


Original Recipe:


Take one cupful of ripe hulled berries; crush with a wooden spoon, mixing with the mass a quarter of a pound of pulverized sugar and half a pint of cold water. Pour the mixture into a fine sieve, rub through and filter till clear; add the strained juice, of one lemon and one and a half pints of cold water, mix thoroughly and set in ice chest till wanted.

This makes a nice, cool drink on a warm day and easily to be made in strawberry season.

STRAWBERRY WATER (Modern Interpretation)

2 cups ripe strawberries, washed, hulled and cut in half (use smaller, riper berries if you can)

1/2 lb white sugar (just over a cup)

2 cups cold water

2 lemons

6 cups cold water

Put strawberries into bowl and a bit of the sugar. Begin to mush the strawberries with a wooden spoon (pestle would be best). Gradually add in the sugar bit by bit as you mush the strawberries. Add some of the water in while you mush as well. Mash complete when most of the strawberries are fully crushed and the all the sugar and water are completely mixed in. Place a fine mesh sieve over a new large bowl. Pour in strawberry mash and press the juices through. Do not insist on the entirety of the mash to get through the sieve as the juice must be clear. If the juice is cloudy, you might dispose of the mash and run the juice through the sieve once more, or, more exactingly, line the sieve with cheese cloth to make sure the re-sieved juices run clear. Add juice to pitcher. Set aside. Juice the two lemons, running the juice through a sieve to keep out seeds and pulp. Add lemon juice to strawberry juice. Add 6 cups of cold water to strawberry juice. Mix juices and water together with a wooden spoon. Place pitcher in the refrigerator for two hours. Serve cold.

Categories: beverages | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Split Pea Soup, No. 1 — Whitehouse Cookbook




I made green split pea soup today. I made it on a sunny, hot day. Not exactly season appropriate, I know, but it must be something I inherited from my family. I’ve known many occasions where my mother’s kitchen was a sweltering storm of steamy meat and cake vapors on the hottest day of the year.  I put it down to stubbornness, I guess. I made a set list of things to make for my blog, now that time is on my hands, and ended up scheduling for today what should have been started three days ago on a rainy, cold day. It ended up being quite warm today.

I don’t know that all my scheduled testing will go as well as today’s. This recipe from the Whitehouse Cookbook could have gone awry but everything just seemed to feel natural and fall into place. Albeit the recipe has more measurements in it than others in the book, looks can be deceiving and guesses can go quite wrong.  It was suggested to use lean ham or bacon for the meat. I made a compromise and used Canadian bacon. It gave a nice flavour to the soup.  I suppose I can still test it with actual ham or with actual bacon because this soup is definitely a keeper.

I imagine this split pea soup, called “Split Pea Soup No. 1”, could have been a very economical dish in any time period, let alone the Victorian age.  It didn’t have a lot of ingredients and not too much of any one thing.  If you added more water to it, it could have satisfied a family for more than one sitting. I read on some web pages not to use baking soda with the split peas (causes loss of nutrients, so I understand) but I am trying to keep to as much ingredient accuracy as possible when I test so it stayed in. I guessed the quantity of celery because there was no suggestion. I tried two stalks, which equalled about a cup, because the wording said “some celery” which may have suggested more than a single stalk. In pepper, I went with a half teaspoon.  I noticed that the part about removing the meat for the blending stage never said whether to keep the meat for the soup once it had been blended or to use it elsewhere. I made the call of keeping it. I’m sure some of my Victorian counterparts may have made the same choice.

The original :


Wash well a pint of split peas and cover them well with cold water, adding a third of a teaspoonful of soda; let them remain in it over night to swell. In the morning put them in a kettle with a close fitting cover. Pour over them three quarts of cold water, adding half a pound of lean ham or bacon cut into slices or pieces; also a teaspoonful of salt and a little pepper, and some celery chopped fine. When the soup begins to boil, skim the froth from the surface. Cook slowly from three to four hours, stirring occasionally till the peas are [Pg 36]all dissolved, adding a little more boiling water to keep up the quantity as it boils away. Strain through a colander, and leave out the meat. It should be quite quick. Serve with small squares of toasted bread, cut up and added. If not rich enough, add a small piece of butter.

SPLIT PEA SOUP. No. 1 (A Modern Interpretation)

2 cups green split peas

1/3 tsp. baking soda

12 cups fresh, cold water

½ lb  (~250 g) Canadian Bacon, chopped into quarters

1 cup finely chopped celery (about two stalks)

1 tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

3 thick slices of french bread / homemade bread, cubed 1 inch square

1)      In a large ceramic or glass bowl, place peas, baking soda and enough water to cover peas by about 1 inch. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave out overnight on the counter.

2)      In the morning (if making this for lunch), dump swelled peas into a colander and rinse to clean.

3)      Place cleaned peas into a kettle or dutch oven. Cover peas with 12 cups of water. Add quarters of bacon, chopped celery, salt and pepper. Stir up contents briefly

4)      Bring mix to a boil in uncovered kettle/dutch oven. As the heat increases gradually, scum will rise to the surface. Skim as much of the white foam off of the surface as you can. It should take about 10 to 20 minutes for most of the scum to rise and begin to boil clearly.

5)      When mix comes to a boil, turn it down to a gentle boil and cook for 2 ½  hours. You can add more water to it if the peas aren’t breaking down. Make sure the water you add is boiling hot.

6)      When the soup is almost done, take the cubed bread and place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Place under a broiler on low. Keep a careful watch on the bread. Take out once it becomes golden on one side and flip each piece to toast briefly on the other side until golden.  Remove, set aside and allow to cool.

7)      Remove each piece of Canadian bacon into a dish and set aside. Allow peas to cool slightly. You can blend through a colander as suggested in the original Victorian recipe or you can go modern and use an immersion blender (as I did*) or, if much cooled, a regular blender, section by section.

8)      I took the set aside bacon and cut it into fine dice. It will be easy as it has been cooked for some time.

9)      Ladle soup into bowls, decorate with diced bacon and a handful of toasted cubes.

* Yeah, I know it isn’t era-appropriate but this IS a modern interpretation after all. I’m sure if they had it, they’d have used it. It’s the taste as much as the preparation from scratch that I consider to be the more important in the interpretation. What this really is, after all, though, is an excuse to make less dishes to wash.

* You could add salted butter at the end but I suspect that most ham and bacon adds seasoning enough. I didn’t but I suppose it might by a nice addition. I might have if I’d had salted butter but, alas, I did not.

Categories: soups | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Apple Puff Pudding: Enter the Quiche Dish

Round three has come and gone. Quickly. I’m much more adept at it now and my other half demolished it in quick march time.  Since the last two rounds rather damp in the center, I believed that the pie dish I was using–a 9-inch pyrex–was too deep yet too small for the amount of batter I made. It was precarious transferring the dish to the oven. I endeavored to buy a wider pie dish but was stopped by the fact that there aren’t a whole lot of places to go in this little valley where I live nor many options without having to drive about 500 km to the east. What to do?  I spied a wide ceramic quiche dish in a local store and bought it for my third experiment. Maybe it’s not perfectly accurate for the time period but necessity IS the mother of invention after all.It would still give me the variables I was looking for– wider and shallower.

I’d pretty much perfected my concept of the ingredient list for Apple Puff Pudding by the second round. The wider, shallower dish did allow for a little more cooking on the sides but the center remains obstinately damp. This, excitingly, was the only round that resulted in some actual, brief puffing of the pudding. It quickly collapse upon exit of the oven but I figure I’m on the right path. I may yet endeavor to try other temperatures or a proper 12-inch glass pie dish, but I am told the result is most edible. Even cold. It disappeared completely into tummies the last two rounds. It is somewhat like a Far Breton–custardy and dense. It really is good hot, as specified in the original recipe, especially with vanilla ice cream. Without further ado, my notes and the resulting recipe.

Okay. First, the original:

The instructions are pretty straight forward but need to be translated in modern recipe parlance.


butter for greasing

3 medium-sized apples — about 375 g (3/4 lb)

225 g (1/2 lb) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups milk

3 eggs

1/4 cup cold, diced butter

2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Butter 12 inch pie dish or 12 inch ceramic quiche dish completely. Set dish aside.

Core and peel apples. Slice all three apples into 1/4 inch thick (1/2 centimeter) slices. This should equal about 3 cups of sliced apple. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, add flour and salt. Mix to incorporate. Gradually add milk to flour mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

Add three whole eggs and continue to whisk mixture until eggs are fully incorporated and batter is smooth.

Pour batter into buttered quiche dish. Carefully lay apple pieces on top of the batter in a pattern. The three cups of apple slices should cover the entire surface of the batter. Slices will need to be placed closely together.

Scatter diced butter randomly over the top of the apple slices. Put dish in oven and bake for about 50 minutes or when the edges become a deep golden brown and slightly pulling away from the edges.

Take pudding out of oven and immediately sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the apple puff. Serve immediately.

Serves 8 generously


– I used Royal Gala apples. They stayed firm and slightly sweet but I don’t know how accurate they would be for Victorian authenticity

– I used 2 percent Dairyland milk. I never tried skim and I don’t know if that would make a difference. That could be a future test in the kitchen. Wonder if organic would make a difference. 

– I used all-purpose Robin Hood flour

– The hot pudding tastes very good with Breyer’s French Vanilla ice cream.

– I might still play around with the temperature, maybe at 385 instead, since the combo of higher temperature and a shallower dish seemed to result in some momentary puffing of the batter.

If you try it out, let me know and tell me what your results were. Enjoy!

Categories: dumplings and puddings | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

The Trouble with Apple-Puff Pudding

Maybe I’m overly-ambitious. I intend, in this blog, to translate old, pre- Fannie Farmer recipes into standardized recipe form– or as close to it as I can get. One tiny problem is that you don’t realize just how many things need to be fiddled with until you are right in the middle of  the test-kitchen stage. There are obvious helps like “half pound of…” and “three eggs” but directions saying just “sprinkle sugar over the top” leaves much to the imagination for quantity.

I’ll soon head on to Round Three of Apple-Puff Pudding in the well-known White House Cookbook.  Round one was edible but damp because I think the temperature was too low. I chickened out on heat because I wasn’t sure what temperature you’d get in a cooking range, most likely the oven of the time. Lesson one learned–go for heat and just keep an eye on it. Round two, with a higher heat,  produced a somewhat puffier and less heavy version but still dense and wet in the center. I added more salt to the batter (another unknown quantity). I also was more generous with the sugar topping at the end.  I also noted the first round that since the pied dish required didn’t offer the size, I might have one that is too small. A larger 9 inch might spread out the batter and make it cook more evenly.Lesson two–don’t skimp on sugar… or salt for that matter.

I’ve eaten both versions. The first was tasting somewhat like sugarless Far Breton. It quickly became stodgy and less impressive as it got cold. Round two’s was better cooked, more sugary and, I admit, served with French Vanilla ice cream.  It tasted rather nice right out of the oven and the vanilla was a good match although maybe not so authentic. Round two was still dampish but, with the Far Breton texture in the middle, it wasn’t foreign to my tastebuds.

Round three will be tested very soon with bigger dish, I hope, and maybe a slightly higher heat.

The pictures of the results of the first two rounds:


Round 1 results

Round 2 results

The trouble with Apple Puff Pudding is that it is just good enough to keep me trying again and again until I get close to what I think my great-great grandmothers would have been proud to put on their table.I suspect many recipes may be like that in this book.  Hope you’ll join me on my adventures and, for goodness sake, please advise and compare notes with me.

Categories: dumplings and puddings | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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