I recently made a recipe for Lemon Dumplings, and I have a conundrum. Should I change the name of a hundred-year-old recipe if the original name doesn’t come even close to describing the actual food?
The dumplings are made by dropping a sticky dough into a boiling molasses syrup. The dough is magically transformed into a dessert dumpling coated in the thick syrup that has a surprisingly complex flavor which combines the robust, nutty, sweetness of the molasses with citrus notes provided by lemon juice and lemon peel (which I assume is the reason for the name).
But, if I’d named this recipe, I won’t call them Lemon Dumplings. To me, the name “Lemon Dumplings” suggests a light, tart, yellow, citrus-flavored dessert. But the actual dumplings are a delectable old-fashioned dessert bread swathed in a rich molasses sauce. These dumplings should be called something like, “Molasses Dumplings” or “Great-Grandpap’s Favorite Dumplings” . . . or . . . anything but Lemon Dumplings.
When I made the dumplings, I asked my husband, “Is the molasses taste too strong?”
“No . . .” His voice drifted off. “They remind me of something my mother used to make, but I can’t quite place it.”
The Lemon Dumplings must have reminded him of something good, because they vanished with amazing speed.
Here’s the original recipe:
An aside: The recipes in the June, 1917 issue of Good Housekeeping had a new format that I hadn’t previously seen. The recipes included the number of calories. But, for some mysterious reason, the calories for all recipes seemed extremely high. Perhaps the magazine was reporting the total number of calories for the entire recipe rather than the per serving amount.
Put egg in a mixing bowl, and wisk until smooth. Add grated lemon peel, lemon juice, molasses, sugar, and water, and stir until combined. Put syrup into a skillet, and add the butter. [Use a skillet with a lid.] Using medium heat, bring the syrup to a boil while stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/2 cup milk, and stir to combine. If the dough is too dry, add additional milk to create a sticky dough.
Drop 1-inch balls of dough into the boiling syrup. Reduce heat to low, and cover pan. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove lid and gently roll the balls of dough to cook the other side. Put the cover back on and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
[Cook’s note: Stay nearby while the dumplings are cooking. I didn’t have any problems, but I think that the syrup could potentially boil over if the temperature is too high and care is not used.]
Creamy and sweet old-fashioned rice pudding is always a delight, so when I came across a hundred-old-recipe for rice pudding with a twist, I was intrigued. The recipe called for topping the pudding with a meringue topping.
The meringue turns a favorite comfort food, into a tasty, slightly showy dish that is sure to impress.
1 cup cold milk + 2 cups hot milk (I heated the milk in the microwave.)
1 cup warm cooked rice
1 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract ( I used vanilla.)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl, then add 3/4 cup of sugar. Stir until smooth. Set aside.
In a large saucepan (or double boiler, if available), stir the corn starch into the milk to make a smooth paste, then pour in the hot milk while stirring. Using medium heat, cook while stirring constantly until the mixture begins boil slowly and thicken. If a regular saucepan is used, be sure to carefully stir all the way to the bottom of the pan because this mixture will easily scorch.
Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of the hot milk mixture into bowl with the egg and sugar, stir quickly. Then pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture while stirring rapidly. Continue cooking for one additional minute. Remove from heat and stir in the rice and vanilla (or orange) extract. Put the pudding in an oven-proof serving bowl. (Cook’s note: The egg is first combined with a little of the hot milk mixture to prevent it from turning into scrambled eggs when introduced into the hot milk mixture.)
To prepare the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until stiff peaks form, then beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Spoon the meringue onto the top of the pudding, and then swirl. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the meringue is a light brown.
Old-fashioned Brownies with Walnuts are an ultimate comfort dessert, and I found a delightful recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook. They were moist and chewy. The top of the Brownies was less crusty than many modern brownies – but the Brownies were wonderful. And, my husband and I devoured the entire pan within 24 hours.
This recipe was in one of my favorite hundred-year-old cookbooks, Lowney’s Cookbook. It is a general cookbook (though it was published by a chocolate manufacturer), and I tend to think of it as being an old-time equivalent of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:
This recipe was one of the signature recipes in the old cookbook. Of course Lowney’s Premium Chocolate is long gone, so I substituted unsweetened baking chocolate. I was also surprised that the recipe didn’t call for baking powder or baking soda – but the recipe turned out just fine without it. I baked the brownies at 350° F. and it took longer than 15 minutes for them bake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter in a mixing bowl; stir in sugar and chocolate. Add eggs, flour, and salt, and stir until combined.; then stir in walnuts. Spread in greased 8-inch square pan. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cut into 36 squares.
I generally like old-fashioned fruit puddings, so I was pleased when I saw a recipe for Apple Pudding in a hundred-year-old cookbook.
Most modern apple recipes call for cinnamon and other spices, so I was surprised that this recipe didn’t use any spices. But they weren’t needed–the Apple Pudding was pure apple and delightful. The apples were embedded in a lovely moist cake pudding.
In general the directions in this old recipe are a little vague. It provides no clue how many apples should be used; and I was left to decide what a moderate oven meant. However, the recipe was very specific that Cleveland’s Superior Baking Powder should be used. Of course, I’ve never heard of Cleveland’s and it’s probably not been made for decades. So I had to make due with a modern baking powder brand, which worked just fine. This recipe may have been originally published by the Cleveland Baking Powder Company. Perhaps Mrs. Wm. Mock liked it, and submitted the same exact recipe for the church cookbook.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place sliced apples into a 7 1/2 X 12 X 2 inch rectangular casserole dish, or other similarly-sized dish.
Put butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, egg, and milk into a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Pour the batter over the apples. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour – 1 hr, 15 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm or cool. If desired, may be served with whipped cream or milk.
Fresh, juicy strawberries at the peak of the season are best served in simple desserts that celebrate their natural sweetness and nuanced tart undertones. If you are looking for the perfect summer dessert try Strawberry Custard. This classic soft custard has the consistency of a rich cream, and is heavenly when spooned over luscious sliced strawberries.
Here’s the original recipe, in a hundred-year-old cookbook:
I found this recipe to be more challenging than I anticipated. The first time I made it, I ended up with a curdled mess. After doing a little research I realized that I’d overcooked the custard. I think that I was picturing that the custard would get firm, like modern puddings – but this custard is quite soft and really a sauce (which probably should have been obvious from the name of the custard recipe, SoftCustard — but, somehow that slipped by me the first time around).
The second batch, I watched like a hawk when I cooked it, and removed the custard from the heat the instant the hot liquid coated the spoon that I was using to stir it. This time the custard turned out perfectly.
Put the milk in a sauce pan (use a double boiler, if available), and using medium heat, scald the milk. This is done by stirring the milk continuously until steam begins to rise from the milk and small bubbles form along the sides of the pan. (Do not allow the milk to boil). Remove from the heat.
In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and salt; beat until the mixture is smooth and lemon-colored. While continuing to beat, slowly pour the scalded milk into the mixture. (It is important not to add too much milk at a time since the hot milk could cook the eggs into scrambled egg clumps.)
Return the mixture to the sauce pan that was used for scalding the milk. Using medium heat, heat the mixture while stirring constantly. As soon as the mixture coats the spoon, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Put the hot custard into a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
To serve, put sliced strawberries in a serving bowl or dessert dish; spoon the desired amount of custard over the strawberries and serve.
The original recipe calls for using only 1 cup of strawberries. For modern tastes, this recipe needs to be adjusted so that each serving lots of strawberries, so I didn’t specify the amount of strawberries.
Hundred-year-old cookbooks have oodles of steamed pudding recipes. These slow-cooking molded desserts were easy to make back in the days when people had a fire constantly burning in a wood stove. I have vague warm fuzzy memories of steamed puddings made by an elderly neighbor when I was a child, and I’ve wanted a pudding mold for some time–so I was thrilled to get one for Christmas.
A few day ago I flipped through my old cookbooks, and tried to decide which pudding recipe to make. I finally decided to try the recipe for Chocolate Nut Steamed Pudding because it sounded delicious – and didn’t require steaming for as long as many other puddings. (It only needed to be steamed for 1 1/2 hours.)
This recipe was worth the time and effort. The pudding was incredible. I expected the pudding to be heavy and rich–and was thrilled that it actually was moist, yet light, with a hint of chocolate that enhanced the taste of the walnuts. The recipe called for beating 5 egg whites (and only 1/2 cup of flour) which resulted in a very light cake-like dessert.
I served it with Hard Sauce (which is actually a brandy butter). The Hard Sauce partially melted on the warm pudding surface releasing a luscious buttery brandy essence .
Here’s my updated version of the recipe for modern cooks:
In a saucepan, combine the 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, salt, and grated chocolate. Gradually stir in the milk to make a smooth mixture; and put on a stove burner at medium heat. Cook until the mixture thickens while constantly stirring. (This mixture become quite thick, so use care not to scorch.) Remove from heat and set aside.
Put the egg whites in a bowl, and beat vigorously until stiff peaks form.
Working quickly (so the egg whites remain beaten), put the egg yolks and sugar in another bowl; and combine. Add the chocolate mixture, and beat until smooth. Stir in the walnuts, and then gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
Put the mixture in a greased mold, and steam for 1 1/2 hours.* Remove from mold and serve warm with Hard Sauce. (This pudding is also excellent cold without the Hard Sauce.)
*Notes: I used a 2 liter mold, but had some extra space at the top. A 1 1/2 quart mold would be large enough. Historically coffee cans were often used as molds. BBC Good Food has an excellent video that succinctly describes how to steam a pudding (or follow the directions that come with the mold).
1/2 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons brandy
Cream the butter, then slowly add the powdered sugar while stirring constantly. While continuing to stir, add the water, and then the brandy.
Here are the original recipes:
There were two Hard Sauce recipes in the cookbook. I adapted the first one.
19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Saturday, June 13, 1914: This is Saturday. Not much doing.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’ll share an old seasonal recipe that I really like. Strawberry Tapioca combines the classic taste of tapioca pudding with the wonderful taste and texture of fresh strawberries.
1/2 cup small pearl tapioca
2 cups water
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups thinly sliced strawberries
Soak tapioca in room temperature water overnight. Drain.
Heat milk (preferably in double boiler) until warm, add drained tapioca and milk. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook for one hour. Stir occasionally. Watch to make sure that the mixture doesn’t boil. (It will boil over very easily—and also has a tendency to burn on the pan bottom if care is not used).
Beat egg yolks and sugar together. Add a little of the hot mixture to the egg mixture and blend thoroughly. Then add the egg mixture to the hot milk mixture, stirring constantly. Reheat over medium heat and cook while stirring until tapioca mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into hot tapioca mixture. Stir in vanilla, and then gently stir the sliced strawberries into the hot tapioca. Chill and then serve.