Sometimes simple desserts are the best. I recently found an easy-to-make, hundred-year-old recipe for Coconut and Orange Dessert that fits the bill. It is light and refreshing, and is just right on hot summer days.
Peel oranges, and remove white inner skin. Separate oranges into segments, and remove any seeds. Cut each segment into 1-inch pieces. Place orange pieces in a bowl and gently stir in most of the coconut (reserve about 2 tablespoons). Put orange and coconut mixture in serving bowl. Garnish with reserved coconut.
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. In 1919, fresh blueberries, were not available; but people regularly ate canned (either home canned or commercially canned) blueberries.
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 350° 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.
Some things just go together – like summer and Berry Shortcake. A few days ago I would have written “like summer and Strawberry Shortcake,” but I’ve discovered a wonderful hundred-year-old recipe for Blackberry Shortcake, so I needed to broaden my analogy.
Slightly crushed, sweetened, juicy blackberries go between and above tender layers of shortcake biscuits. This delightful old-fashioned dessert, with the “new” twist of blackberries is perfect for a hot summer day.
I did not use any whipped cream when I made this dessert since the old recipe did not call for it, and it definitely is not needed. The sweetened juice from the blackberries soaks into the biscuits and creates a delightful flavor and texture; though, if desired, the Blackberry Shortcake could be topped with whipped cream.
Here is a photo of Blackberry Shortcake that appeared in the old magazine:
And, here is the original recipe:
If seemed unusual the old recipe called for buttering the split shortcake biscuits before putting the blackberries between the layers, but I gave it a try with several biscuits. The warm biscuits melted the butter, and it really was not very noticeable after the berries were added. I also tried serving this dessert without buttering the biscuits first, and there was very little difference in the taste or appearance.
2 cups pastry flour (If you do not have pastry flour, use 1 cup cake flour + 1 cup all-purpose flour.)
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup shortening
approximately 3/4 – 1 cup milk
Wash and drain blackberries. Put in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Lightly crush berries with a fork. Set aside. (If desired, put in a saucepan and heat using low heat for 1 – 2 minutes to warm slightly and to increase the juicing of the berries, but do not cook. Remove from heat.)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, stir the flour, salt and baking powder together. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture. Add 3/4 cup milk and stir just enough to combine using a fork to form a soft dough. If the dough is dry, add additional milk and stir a little more to create a soft dough.
On a pastry cloth or other prepared surface, roll shortcake dough to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut into rounds 2 1/2 – 3 inches in diameter. (I turned a water glass upside down and used it as the cutter). Put on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cook about 15-20 minutes or until the biscuits are lightly browned. Remove from oven and split the biscuits in half. (I used a bread knife to cut them.) If desired, spread the biscuits with butter. Put the berries between and above the biscuits and serve at once.
I used less sugar than called for in the original recipe because 1 1/2 – 2 cups sugar seemed like an excessive amount to put on the blackberries.
Now that the weather is getting hot – and strawberries are in season – I wanted to find a recipe for a tasty and refreshing strawberry dessert. I searched through my hundred-year-old cookbooks, and I think I found the perfect recipe. Strawberry Bavarian Cream is creamy and cool, and it made a beautiful presentation.
This recipe was in a 1905 church cookbook from Berwick, Pennsylvania published by “The Ladies of Directory No. 2 of the Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.” I’m very curious how the cooks who made this recipe in the early 20th century chilled this dessert. Most won’t have had a refrigerator; perhaps they refrigerated the Strawberry Bavarian Cream in an ice box chilled with a block of ice, or maybe this recipe was often made during the winter months using strawberries that had been canned the previous summer.
Regardless of how cooks in 1905 kept the Strawberry Bavarian Cream cold, this silky, delectable dessert is a winner. I know that I’ll make it again in the near future.
2 envelopes (0.25 ounce each) of unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup cold water
1 cup boiling water
1 quart fresh strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
Place the cold water in a bowl; then sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let sit for one-half hour.
In the meantime, slice strawberries into a bowl; add sugar and stir to combine. (Reserve several berries to garnish the molded dessert.) Let sit for at least 5 minutes or until the sliced berries begin to become juicy. Then thoroughly mash the sliced berries until no large pieces remain. (I used a potato masher to mash.)
Add boiling water to the gelatin mixture; stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Stir in the mashed strawberries. Chill just until the mixture is no longer warm.
In the meantime, beat the whipping cream until it is light and stiff peaks form. Then fold it into the strawberry and gelatin mixture. Pour into a 7-8 cup mold and chill until firm (at least 4 hours). (I used a 6-cup mold and had a little of the mixture left over after the mold was filled, which I put into a small bowl.)
To serve: Quickly dip the mold in hot water, then unmold unto serving plate.
Note: This recipe may also be made using 1/2 pint frozen or canned strawberries. If frozen or canned strawberries are used as a substitute for the fresh berries, do not add the 1 cup of sugar.
Each spring I eagerly await the arrival of rhubarb at the local market. I bought some rhubarb last week-end, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Rhubarb Dumplings in a hundred-year-old cookbook.
The Rhubarb Dumplings were tender with a refreshingly tart rhubarb filling embedded in a sweet custard-like sauce.
Preheat oven to 425° F. Put sugar, flour, and egg in a small bowl; stir to combine. On a pastry cloth or other prepared surface, roll shortcake dough to 1/4 inch thickness; cut into squares, 4-inches by 4-inches. Put heaping 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) in the center of each square, then cover with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and egg mixture. Fold dough so that the points overlap on top of the rhubarb mixture. Put the dumplings in a large flat baking dish, about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. If desired, serve with whipped cream.
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in the shortening; then add the milk. Stir gently with a fork to create a dough.
The old recipe only called for 1 1/2 cups of rhubarb. When I made this recipe, I had difficulty measuring 2 tablespoons of rhubarb for each dumpling. (Rhubarb is just too thick to fit well on a spoon.) So I used a 1/8 cup scoop, and put a heaping scoop of rhubarb in each dumpling, I ended up running out of rhubarb before I’d used all the shortcake dough, so I cut up an additional stalk of rhubarb. I think in the end that I used 2 – 2 1/2 cups of rhubarb. The dumplings were excellent, though if I made them again, I might put even more rhubarb in each dumpling.
Whisk egg yolks until smooth, add salt. Set aside.
Put 1/4 cup milk in a small dish. Sprinkle gelatin and sugar evenly over the cold milk and allow the gelatin to absorb the milk. Set aside.
Put egg whites in a small bowl, and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Heat the 1 3/4 cups milk in a saucepan using medium heat until it comes to a boil. Quickly stir in gelatin and sugar mixture; then add the egg yolks while stirring constantly. As soon as it returns to a boil remove from heat, and immediately fold in the beaten egg whites. Stir in the salt and vanilla. If not smooth, press the mixture through a sieve. Put in a serving bowl, or spoon into individual serving cups or glasses. Chill for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator. Serve with Chocolate-flavored Whipped Cream.
Chocolate-flavored Whipped Cream: Place the whipping cream in a bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Add confectioners sugar and cocoa, and continue beating until thoroughly mixed.
I recently found a hundred-year-old recipe for the perfect peach dessert – Peach Tapioca Without Cream. The name is a bit misleading. This luscious, refreshing dessert is topped with almond-flavored whipped cream.
The peaches are embedded in a delightful, thick, sweet, tapioca sauce made with water, sugar, and lemon. The use of water rather than the usual milk or cream creates a lovely new dimension that’s unlike any tapioca I’ve ever eaten.
This recipe was published in Good Housekeeping in 1917. At the time, food prices were rapidly rising due to food shortages cause by World War I. Cream was expensive – so the recipe called for making the tapioca with water instead of cream. But apparently the recipe author couldn’t bring herself to totally eliminate the cream and decided that people could afford to use a little cream that could be whipped into a delightful topping.
Here’s the original recipe:
And, here’s the recipe updated for modern readers:
Combine the tapioca, water, and salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil using medium heat while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer gently while continuing to stir; cook until the mixture is clear and thick (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in the lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and sugar. Added the sliced peaches and gently stir to combine. Put into a bowl and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Serve with Almond-Flavored Whipped Cream.
Almond-Flavored Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Put cream in a bowl; beat until stiff peaks form. Add confectioners sugar and almond extract; beat until combined.