Occasionally, an old recipe surprises me. A hundred-year-old recipe for Sponge Pudding called for putting the pudding mixture in a casserole dish, sitting it in a pan of hot water, and then baking in the oven, I thought that the Sponge Pudding would be a baked custard-style pudding, or maybe similar to the filling of a sponge pie, and decided to give it a try.
The recipe only had five ingredients – sugar, flour milk, eggs, and butter. Most of the ingredients are first cooked on top of the stove, and then stiffly-beaten egg whites are folded in. The mixture is then put in the casserole dish and baked.
A few minutes after I put the Sponge Pudding in the oven, I took a peek and was shocked to discover that the baking mixture had risen several inches above the top edge of the casserole dish – and that I actually was making a souffle-type dessert rather then a custard. I turned the oven light on, and nervously watched the baking Sponge Pudding, fearful it would expand so much that it would spill over and go all over the oven. But, fortunately that didn’t happen, and I soon had a lovely very high lightly-browned dessert.
The Sponge Pudding was delightful – though not even close to what I had been expecting.
Here’s the original recipe:
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
2 cups milk + approximately 1/4 cup milk
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
Preheat oven to 425° F. Beat egg whites until stiff; set. aside.
Then in a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until smooth; set aside.
Mix sugar and flour in a small bowl. Gradually stir in the 1/4 cup milk; continue stirring until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
Put the 2 cups milk in a sauce pan, bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring constantly. Put a small amount of the hot milk into the flour and sugar mixture and stir until smooth. Repeat several times until the flour and sugar mixture is fairly thin. Then stir into the boiling milk; continue stirring until the mixture thickens and is smooth. Remove from heat.
Put a small amount of the hot mixture into the bowl with the beaten egg yolks, and immediately stir. Then stir the egg yolk mixture and the butter into the hot thickened milk mixture. Fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture., and then pour into a 2- or 2 1/2-quart casserole dish. Put the dish in a pan of hot water and put in the oven. Bake until the pudding rises and is light brown (about 30 – 40 minutes). Remove from oven and serve.