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
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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.

Coffee and Tapioca Trifle (Coffee Tapioca Pudding)

glass dish with coffee tapioca pudding

Tapioca can be used to make some wonderful old-fashioned desserts. We’re all familiar with tapioca pudding, but there are also some other fun recipes that call for tapioca in hundred-year-old cookbooks and magazines. I recently was intrigued by an old recipe for Coffee and Tapioca Trifle (Coffee Tapioca Pudding), and decided to give it a try.

Anyone who likes both coffee and tapioca will enjoy this dessert. Since the Coffee and Tapioca Trifle is made using coffee rather than milk, it was lighter than many tapioca desserts. It was delightfully refreshing, and had just the right amount of sweetness.

4 single servings of coffee and tapioca trifle in cups
Source: American Cookery (June/July, 1919)
recipe for coffee and tapioca trifle
Source: American Cookery (June/July, 1919)

I used small pearl tapioca when I made the recipe.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Coffee and Tapioca Trifle (Coffee Tapioca Pudding)

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1/2 cup small pearl tapioca

2 cups coffee

1/2 cup sugar

whipped cream

Soak tapioca in room temperature water overnight. Drain.

Heat coffee (preferably in double boiler) until warm, add drained tapioca. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook until mixture thickens, and the tapioca pearls have plumped and are tender (5 – 45 minutes) depending upon the brand of tapioca used. Stir occasionally. (It will boil over very easily—and also has a tendency to burn on the pan bottom if care is not used). Stir in the sugar, and cook just a bit longer to allow the sugar to dissolve. Remove from heat, and put in serving dishes. Chill at least 3 hours before serving. Serve with whipped cream.

Old-fashioned English Pudding with Hard Sauce

steamed pudding on plate

Steamed puddings are a traditional holiday food which once were slow-cooked on a wood or coal stove that was used for both heating and cooking. They are less popular now that our stoves aren’t constantly operating; but there are some wonderful hundred-year-old steamed pudding recipes that worth the time. For example, English Pudding is a tasty dessert favored with cloves and other cozy spices. It is delightful  when served warm with Hard Sauce.

Here are the original recipes:

Recipe for English Pudding
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)
recipe for hard sauce
The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

I anticipated that the Hard Sauce would be extremely thick, but smooth; however, when I followed the recipe the Hard Sauce it was so dry that it clumped somewhat. It was tasty – but just did not look quite right. I think that additional butter or water may be needed. This is the second time that I’ve made Hard Sauce using hundred year old recipes – and it did not turn out quite as I expected either time. Maybe Hard Sauce had a different consistency a hundred years ago than what it does now. 

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

English Pudding with Hard Sauce

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: moderate
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English Pudding
1/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup milk

2 cups flour

1/2 baking soda

1/4 ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raisins

Put shortening, molasses, milk, flour, baking soda, ground cloves, mace, and salt in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir in raisins.  

Put the mixture in a greased steamed pudding mold*, and steam for 3 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 and a smaller mold could be used. BBC Good Food has an excellent video that succinctly describes how to steam a pudding (or follow the directions that come with the mold).

Hard Sauce

1 cup sugar

1/4 butter

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter, then slowly add the sugar while stirring constantly. While continuing to stir, add the lemon extract and vanilla.

Note: To make a smoother hard sauce, additional butter or water may need to be added.

Old-fashioned Baked Apple Roll

Baked apple roll in baking dish

Fall is the season for apples, and the perfect time to make apple desserts. I recently found a lovely hundred-year-old recipe for Baked Apple Roll; however, it has one quirky characteristic. The recipe does not call for any cinnamon.

The Baked Apple Roll is smothered in a very simple sugar, water, and butter sauce. The roll looked beautiful, but (since I’m so used to apple dishes being spiced with cinnamon), the roll tasted bland to me. If I made this recipe again, I might add some cinnamon – though I recognize that wouldn’t hold true to the old recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for baked apple roll
Source: The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

When I made the recipe, I halved it, and still had a large roll that made 4-5 servings. Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks.

Baked Apple Roll

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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slice of baked apple roll in dish

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon butter (softened) + 1/4 cup butter

1 cup milk

3 cups chopped apples (about 2-3 large apples) (peel and core before chopping)

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups water

Preheat oven to 325° F. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and 1 tablespoon butter. Add milk, and mix using a fork until dough starts to cling together. If it is excessively sticky, add additional flour. Turn onto a well-floured prepared surface, and roll dough into an approximate 11-inch square that is 1/4 inch thick. Evenly spread chopped apples on the rolled dough to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Start at one side and roll. Seal edges by pressing together to help prevent the juice from running out. Place in an oblong baking dish (approximately 7 inches by 12 inches or larger) with the “seam” at the top.

In a bowl, combine the sugar and water. Carefully pour the sugar mixture into the edge of the baking dish. Do not pour it over the top of the roll. Cut the 1/4 cup butter into small pieces, then “dot” the sugar/water mixture with the butter pieces. This will turn into a syrup as it cooks. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and baste the roll with the hot sugar syrup. Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven. The roll can be cut into slices, and served hot or cold with the syrup drizzled around the slices.

    Unbaked apple roll in baking dish with sugar, water, and pats of butter

Old-fashioned Coconut and Orange Dessert

coconut and orange dessert

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.

Here is the original recipe:

coconut and orange dessert image and recie
Source: Sunkist Orange Advertisement, Ladies Home Journal (June, 1919)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Coconut and Orange Dessert

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 oranges

1/3 cup shredded coconut

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.

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.  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
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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.

Old-fashioned Blackberry Shortcake

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:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), Aug./Sept., 1915
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), Aug./Sept., 1915

And, here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), Aug./Sept., 1915
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), Aug./Sept., 1915

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.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Blackberry

  • Servings: 7 - 9 biscuits
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 pints (4 1/2-pint boxes) blackberries

1 cup sugar

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

butter (optional)

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.