Canned Fruit Custard

 

Cherries in custard sauce in stemmed glassesSometimes it is a challenge to make a recipe in an old cookbook. The cookbook may make assumptions about the knowledge level of the cooks who will use the cookbook that totally miss the mark when it comes to modern cooks; or one recipe may refer to another recipe which might then refer to still another.

For example,  I recently found a hundred-year-old recipe for Canned Fruit Custard that at first appeared very simple – Make a thin (soft) custard and pour it over drained canned fruit. But there was just one problem; the cookbook did not contain a recipe for thin custard. Apparently cooks were just supposed to know how to make thin custard.

Recipe for Canned Fruit Custard
Source: The Cook Book for Left-Overs (1920) Compiled by The More Nurses in Training Movement (Illinois)

Unfortunately I  am not as knowledgeable as cooks a hundred year ago, and didn’t know how to make a thin (soft) custard, so I searched through other old cookbooks for a recipe. I finally found a soft custard recipe in a 1920 home economics textbook.

soft custard recipe
Source: School and Home Cooking (1920) by Carlotta Greer

All was good, but I then was surprised to discover that I needed to find still another recipe. The Soft Custard recipe said to “mix the materials in the same way as for steamed or baked custard.”

Steamed or Baked Pudding Recipe
Source: School and Home Cooking (1920) by Carlotta Greer

Whew, this was getting complicated. After I found all three recipes, I took a stab at synthesizing all the directions, I finally made Canned Fruit Custard using canned sweet dark cherries. The dessert was lovely, with the cherries coated with a creamy, slightly sweet custard sauce, but the whole process has left me feeling drained.

So that others don’t need to go through the process of synthesizing the recipes, here is the Canned Fruit Custard recipe updated for modern cooks.

Canned Fruit Custard

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 pints canned fruit (15-16 ounce cans) – I used canned dark sweet cherries.

Custard

2 eggs, separated

2 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make the custard, first scald the milk. To do this, put the milk in a heavy sauce pan (use a double boiler if available); then heat using medium heat. Stir frequently until the milk just barely begins to bubble, then remove from the heat.

In a bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks slightly, then add sugar and salt. Beat to combine. Then place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of hot milk into bowl with the egg mixture, stir quickly. Add this mixture to the hot milk and stir. (This helps prevent the egg from coagulating when the egg is introduced to the hot liquid.)  Return to stove and cook, using medium heat while stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken or coat a spoon. Quickly stir in the beaten egg whites. Remove from heat. Strain and then stir in the vanilla. Chill at least 3 hours.

To Serve

Drain canned fruit. Put the fruit in dessert dishes, and spoon the soft custard over the fruit.

Old-fashioned Cherry Bread

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, July 2, 1913:  It’s most too hot to do anything important so I need to write about the weather. Oh yes, I recollect, I did pick some cherries this afternoon for one thing.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Mmm—cherries! What were Grandma’s favorite cherry foods? . . .maybe she made old-fashioned cherry bread.  (This recipe is a favorite of one of my sons—and he always wants me to make it when he visits. Either sweet or sour cherries may be used.)

Old-Fashioned Cherry Bread

Bread

2/3 cup shortening

1 1/4 cup sugar

4 eggs

4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 cups milk

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 cup pitted fresh cherries (or 1 pound can cherries), drained (reserve juice)

Glaze (optional)

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

approximately 2 tablespoons reserved cherry juice

Bread:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 X 5 X 3 inch loaf pans or three 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 X 2 1/2 inch loaf pans.* **   Beat together shortening and sugar; add eggs and beat. Add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, milk, and almond extract; then beat until mixed. Finely chop cherries and gently fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake full-size loaf pans 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (Smaller pans will take less time.) Partially cool and then remove from pans.

Glaze:  Beat together until smooth: butter, confectioners’ sugar, almond extract, and cherry juice. Use more or less cherry juice to get desired consistency. Spread over loaves. Let the glaze drip down the sides.

*I usually use one 9 X 5 X 3 inch loaf pan and three “personal” loaf pans (approximately 5 1/2 X 3 X 2 inches).

**If planning to remove bread from the pans, cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom of each pan. Grease pan, then put wax paper into pan. Grease wax paper, and then flour pan.

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Previous posts with cherry recipes that you may enjoy include:

Old-fashioned Cherry Pudding

Old-fashioned Cherry Pie

Old-fashioned Cherry Pie Recipe

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:

Thursday, June 13, 1912:  I guess I’ve forgotten.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

My sour cherries are getting ripe and I made an old-fashioned cherry pie. Grandma mentioned picking berries on June 10—but hasn’t mentioned cherries. I wonder if cherries ripened this early in 1912.

Here’s the recipe I used to make the pie:

Old-Fashioned Cherry Pie

Pastry for 9-inch two crust pie (see pie pastry recipe in previous post)

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup flour

4 cups fresh pitted sour cherries

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Stir the sugar, flour, and almond extract into the cherries.  If the mixture is very juicy add additional flour. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan. Make a lattice top crust and flute edges. Brush crust with a small amount of milk; sprinkle with sugar.  Bake in oven for 10 minutes; then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crust is lightly  browned and juice just begins to bubble.

I made my own pie crust dough using the recipe that I previously included in the post for Rhubarb Sponge Pie.  I doubled that recipe since I basically needed two crusts for this pie.

For the lattice top crust, I cut the dough into strips about 3/4 inch wide and laid them on the top of the pie. I try to lay every other one perpendicular to the previous one—but the lattice never ends up being woven exactly right.  I never worry much about that because the pie tastes so awesome.

Old-fashioned Cherry Pudding Recipe

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, June 26, 1911:  Felt so terrible this morning, so did Ruth. Picked cherries nearly all afternoon! There were sour ones, so there was no danger of spoiling my hands to any considerable extent.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

How did the Muffly family use the sour cherries? In pies? . . . jam?. . . fruit compote? . . . cherry pudding?

I can remember cherry pudding tasting awesome on hot summer evenings after a hard day of making hay.  Here’s the old family recipe that I use to  make Cherry Pudding.

Cherry Pudding

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups pitted sour cherries*

1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put into a mixing bowl: butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, flour, and vanilla; beat until smooth. Pour into a 7 1/2  X  12  X  2 inch rectangular casserole dish, or similarly sized dish.

Make sauce by heating the 3/4 cup of sugar, cherries (including any juice), and water. Bring to a boil; then pour the cherry sauce over the batter.  Place in oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until pudding just begins to shrink from sides of dish, and the top is golden brown. When baked, cherries and sauce will be on the bottom. Serve warm. If desired, may be served with milk.

*Frozen or canned cherries may be used. Do not drain frozen or canned cherries; and include juice when measuring cherries. It works okay to use a 1 pound can of cherries—there just will be somewhat fewer cherries in the dish than if fresh or frozen cherries were used. Reduce amount of sugar, if using cherries canned or frozen in sugar syrup.