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.

Old-fashioned Strawberry Bavarian Cream

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.

Here’s the original recipes:

Source: Berwick (PA) Cook Book No. 2, The Ladies of Directory No.2 of the Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1905)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Strawberry Bavarian Cream

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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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.

Old-fashioned Rhubarb Dumplings

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.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rhubarb Dumplings

  • Servings: approximately 12 dumplings
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Rhubarb Dumplings

2 – 2 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut in 1-inch pieces

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 egg

shortcake dough (see below)

sugar

cinnamon

whipped cream (optional)

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.

Shortcake

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.

American Cream with Chocolate-Flavored Whipped Cream

I recently had a delightful molded pudding at a very nice restaurant. It was a little firmer, and jiggled a little more, than traditional puddings–and I wondered how it was made.

Then I saw a recipe in an advertisement in a hundred-year-old magazine for American Cream that looked like it might make a dessert similar to the one I’d eaten in the restaurant, so I  gave it a try.

The American Cream was all that I’d hoped it would be. It was creamy with  just hint of sweetness. And, when topped with Chocolate-flavored Whipped Cream, it was almost decadent.

When I served this dessert, guests enjoyed the American Cream; they absolutely raved about the Chocolate-Flavored Whipped Cream.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)
Source: Minute Gelatine advertisement in Ladies Home Journal (May, 1916)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

American Cream with Chocolate Whipped Cream

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Pudding

2 eggs, separated

1/4 cup milk + 1 3/4 cups milk

1 envelop unflavored gelatin

2 tablespoons sugar + 2 tablespoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate-flavored Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

1/2 – 1 teaspoon cocoa

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.

Old-fashioned Peach Tapioca Dessert “Without Cream”

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:

Source: Good Housekeeping (October, 1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern readers:

Peach Tapioca without Cream

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Peach Tapioca

1/2 cup granulated tapioca (Minute tapioca)

3 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt

juice and grated rind of  1/2 lemon

3/4 cup sugar

6 large peaches, pared and thinly sliced

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.

Old-time Lemon Dumplings

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:

, Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1917)

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.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Lemon Dumplings

  • Servings: 3 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 egg

Peel of 1 lemon, grated

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup molasses

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup hot water

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup bread flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 – 3/4 cup milk

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.

Serve warm.

[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.]

Old-fashioned Rice Pudding with Meringue Topping

rice-pudding

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.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, February, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, February, 1916)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rice Pudding with Meringue Topping

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

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.

rice-pudding-2