Old-fashioned Blueberry Duff

I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Blueberry Duff in the February, 1919 issue of Good Housekeeping. Duffs often are steamed puddings – but this recipe is very easy to make and calls for baking the duff in the oven.

This Blueberry Duff is moist, rich, and spicy. It contains molasses, well as cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

The recipe calls for canned blueberries. I’m fascinated by what people ate during the winter months in the days before modern transportation allowed produce to be shipped thousands of miles.Β  In 1919, fresh blueberries, were not available; but people regularly ate canned (either home canned or commercially canned) blueberries.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1919)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Blueberry Duff

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 15-ounce (1 pint) can of canned blueberries (DO NOT use blueberry pie filling. This recipe calls for canned blueberries.)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup barley flour

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup molasses

whipped cream, optional

Drain canned blueberries; reserve both juice and berries.

Preheat oven to 350Β° F. Put all-purpose flour, barley flour, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, molasses, and blueberry juice in a mixing bowl; beat until thoroughly combined. Stir the blueberries into the batter. Pour batter into a well-greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish; put lid on dish. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and let sit for 10 minutes, then remove from dish by running a knife around the edge of the dish and inverting on a plate.

Serve either warm or cold. If desired, serve with whipped cream.

64 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Blueberry Duff

    1. I think that you’d like it. The molasses and spices gave the Blueberry Duff a nice old-fashioned taste that I really liked. It’s a bit like a gingerbread with embedded blueberries.

    1. I agree! I occasionally make steamed puddings because they are such a typical dessert from the early 1900s – but it is so much easier and more practical to make desserts that can be baked in the oven.

    1. I never had either until I found this recipe. πŸ™‚ I then googled “duff” and discovered that it’s a steamed pudding – though the recipe that I came across obviously isn’t one. Not quite sure why the recipe author called it a Duff.

          1. Yes it was my mum made alot of suet puddings savoury and sweet I used to love the apple dumplings although she did bake those …A whole apple encased in suet pastry…I can taste it now…haha

    1. This was my first experience using barley flour. I really liked how this recipe turned out – though I must admit that, because of the spices and molasses, I couldn’t exactly identify how the barley flour affected the texture or taste.

    1. It’s nice to hear that you enjoy these posts. I have a lot of fun finding the recipes, and then making them. I found the barley flour in one of the bulk bins at a natural food store.

      1. Yes, I definitely do enjoy your recipe gems from days gone by! I have some very old recipe books that were my grandmother’s and then moms. Your posts remind me that I need to try some of those recipes. I’ll have to check out the bulk bins at my two favorite natural food stores here.

        1. You are so fortunate to have some old family cookbooks. One thing that I really enjoy when when going through my mother’s cookbooks is looking at which pages have food spatters on them. Inevitably those smudges guide me to recipes that were once family favorites.

          1. The cookbooks, handed down, are some of my favorite and most treasured possessions. I love those spattered pages too! The pages that had a grocery list or a church program left to mark the page remain the same as they were when I received them. There is a special story about one of those pages left behind. Yes, fortunate, we are!

            1. I’m impressed that you keep the grocery list, etc. in the same page. I tend to use those kinds of documents as bookmarks when I find them in old cookbooks, and have no idea what they originally marked. Now I wish that I’d used more care and kept them in the original spot.

  1. Oh this has got to be good! I love canned blueberries, canned many a berry in my day. I just freeze them now that I don’t have as many mouths to feed. My dad used to chunk up white bread ,add some canned blueberries,add a little sugar then drown it all in milk. This was a favorite on a hot day. He called it cold soup. I ate it only because in our home one didn’t wrinkle up their nose.

    1. The “cold soup” sounds like something my husband would love. He has warm memories of eating bread with sugar and milk when he was a child – and it sounds like it would be even better with canned blueberries. πŸ™‚

    1. I think that the recipe would need to be adapted in some way if fresh blueberries were used because the recipe calls for using both the canned berries and the juice (syrup) in the can. It probably would be too dry unless extra liquid was added – or maybe fresh the blueberries could be cooked prior to using in this recipe.

    1. Yes, it did have a nice smell – though, since it was baked with the lid on, perhaps a little less of the aroma wafted into the kitchen until I took the lid off to check if it was done.

  2. First time I’ve heard of duff and it’s sounds interesting. I printed to try when I have guests for dinner. Sounds like a nice dessert that guests could not find anywhere else.

    1. I think that they’d like it – and it’s just different enough that I think that it could lead to some fun conversations about the name, how it is made, etc.

    1. I don’t know. There was no accompanying recipe for foamy sauce in the old magazine. Maybe everyone just knew what it was a hundred years ago.

  3. Could 100% All Purpose Flour be used? We live in a very rural area, nearest town is 40 miles away–one way, and I know that NO ONE would carry Barley Flour. That would mean that I’d have to order it online to try this.

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