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.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to lose a few pounds. I’m trying to eat healthy (and January is the perfect time for soup), so I looked through my hundred year-old cookbooks for a soup that was light yet rich and tasty. I wasn’t sure it was possible to find a soup that met my criteria, but I think that I came up with a soup that fits the bill.
I found a recipe for Cauliflower Soup in Lowney’s Cook Book (1912). This milk-based soup is a very smooth, strained soup—and not very thick; so I think that today it would be considered a “silky” soup.
This Silky Cauliflower Soup is lovely, and has a surprisingly subtle cauliflower taste. The soup will warm you up on a cold winter day–plus, it’s light enough that you don’t need to feel guilty.
Here’s my updated version of the recipe for modern cooks:
Put chopped cauliflower in a saucepan and cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain cooked cauliflower and puree in a blender or food processor.
In the meantime, melt butter in a large saucepan; then add the chopped onions and saute until tender. Stir in the flour, and slowly add 3 cups water while stirring constantly. Stir the egg yolk into the remaining 1 cup water; and then add the egg and water mixture to contents of the large sauce pan while continuing to stir constantly. Add the pureed cauliflower, salt, and pepper to the mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and strain. Return the liquid to the pan and stir in the milk. Heat until hot, then stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve.
Brrr, it’s cold outside and I’m ready for some comfort foods. When I saw a recipe for Scotch Potatoes in the January, 1916 issue of Ladies Home Journal, I just had to try it.
Scotch Potatoes are very similar to Scalloped Potatoes, but they contain a lot more onions. The recipe calls for a 1:1 ratio of potatoes and onions (2 cups potatoes and 2 cups onions).
This recipe was a winner, and I may never make regular scalloped potatoes again. Scotch Potatoes wonderfully pairs the creamy potatoes with the sweet, bright, complex flavor and texture of the onions to create a lovely taste sensation.
The recipe I typically use for Scalloped Potatoes just has me put the raw potato slices into the casserole dish and then pour white sauce over it. When I bake that casserole I often struggle to get the potatoes tender before the top gets overly brown. One of my favorite things about the Scotch Potatoes recipe is that I had no issues with a burned top and under-cooked potatoes.
This recipe called for boiling the potatoes and onions for a few minutes before putting them into the baking dish. This worked perfectly—and I now wonder why I never thought of doing this before.
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced (approx. 2 cups)
4 medium onions, sliced (approx. 2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400° F. Put the sliced potatoes and onions into a saucepan, and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer until the potatoes are just barely tender (about 12 minutes). Remove from heat and drain.
In the meantime, make a white sauce by melting the butter in another saucepan. Stir in the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. While stirring constantly, slowly add the milk. Continue stirring until the mixture is hot and begins to thicken.
Place the cooked potatoes and onions in a baking dish. Pour the white sauce over them, and put into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly, and the top begins to brown. Remove from oven and serve.
Here’s the original recipe:
I didn’t make my potato and onion slices as thick as the slices called for in the original recipe. Mine were about 1/4 inch thick, and they worked beautifully in the updated recipe.
When browsing through a hundred-year-old National Food Magazine, I was amazed to see a recipe for Yuletide Punch that looked like a cranberry slush recipe to me.
Of course, I had to try it. The slush contained freshly made cranberry juice (not the over-filtered store-bought stuff) and orange juice as well as a little maraschino cherry juice. The icy, dusky pink slush was refreshing and had just the right amount of tartness.
This recipe is a keeper. The slush was easy to make, beautiful, and tasted awesome. I’ll definitely make it again.
Combine the cranberries, sugar, and water in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and are soft. Remove from heat. Use a strainer to separate the juice from the berries.* Squeeze the oranges, and strain the orange juice. Combine cranberry juice, orange juice, and maraschino cherry liquid. Put the juice mixture in a freezer container and freeze.
To serve: Remove container from freezer 1/2 – 1 hr. prior to serving and allow the mixture to soften for easy serving. Spoon the slush into glasses, and serve immediately.
*Note: The cooked cranberries are not used in this recipe, but can be cooled and served separately.
Adapted from recipe in National Food Magazine (December, 1914)
Here is the original recipe.
Something doesn’t seem quite right with the old photo. The slush in the picture looks white. My slush was a dark pink.
Cookie season is here, and it’s time to start baking for the holidays. Of course, I just had to try a “new” hundred-year-old recipe.
I selected a recipe for Coconut Cream Cookies that was in a small promotional cookbook published in 1911 for KC Baking Powder.
The cookies are an old-fashioned soft, chewy cookie, with a very delicate creamy coconut taste. Their mild flavor makes them perfect for nibbling while sipping a cup of coffee.
The recipe didn’t call or any butter or shortening–and I was surprised that it was possible to make cookies without it. The cream in the recipe apparently provided adequate fat to create a nice cookie texture—however, the cookies weren’t as flavorful as many modern cookies.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine eggs, sugar, and cream. Add flour, salt, and baking powder; stir to combine. If the mixture is too dry, add water until a soft dough of rolling consistency forms. Stir in the coconut.
Roll out the dough one-fourth inch thick. Sprinkle with coconut, pressing in lightly. Cut into rounds; press a nut meat into the center of each cookie. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8 – 10 minutes, or just until set and the coconut garnish is just beginning to toast.
Note: I used a 2-inch diameter cookie cutter. The coconut in the cookie dough makes this dough a little more difficult to handle than many modern doughs. A spatula can be used to transfer the cut cookies to the baking sheet.
Yield: Approximately 42 cookies
Here is the original recipe.
I had to make some adaptations to the recipe. I guessed that “1 coffee C sugar” was about 3/4 cup of sugar.
When I followed the recipe, the dough was extremely dry. I added additional cream, as well as water, to achieve a dough that could be rolled. Perhaps a hundred years ago, eggs were larger than the typical “large egg” of today. Also, I used all-purpose flour rather than pastry flour–and I didn’t sift it; that might have affected the amount of liquid needed.
I also changed the spelling of coconut from “cocoanut” to “coconut” when I revised the recipe. I never see it spelled with an “a” in modern cookbooks, so I’m guessing that it’s an archaic spelling.
I love fudge, and when I saw a recipe for Nutmeg Fudge in a hundred-year-old magazine I just had to try to try it.
The verdict—The fudge was wonderfully smooth and creamy. I noticed unexpected nutmeg undertones when taking the first nibble, but then the warm, spicy hint of nutmeg balanced nicely with the sugar to create a fudge that was less sweet than many fudges.
Combine brown sugar, milk, cream, and melted chocolate in a heavy saucepan. Using medium heat, heat until the mixture just begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking without stirring until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (235° F.). Remove from heat; then stir in butter, salt, and nutmeg.
Cool until lukewarm; then stir vigorously until the mixture becomes creamy and begins to thicken. Pour into a small buttered pan (6” X 6”). When firm cut into squares.
Adapted from recipe in Good Housekeeping (December, 1915)
The older I get, the more I enjoy foraged foods. They bring back powerful memories of foods my ancestors loved. Last September my husband and I were thrilled to find a hickory nut tree in a fence row. We gathered and hulled the fallen nuts, then brought them home and spread them out on newspapers to dry.
Last week-end we cracked the hickory nuts and then used nut picks to remove the tiny nut meats. The process was incredibly tedious—and the pile of shelled hickory nuts grew with agonizing slowness.
I knew that I had to find the perfect recipe to use the precious nuts. When I saw a recipe for Hickory Nut Macaroons in the Lycoming Valley Cook Book, I just had to try it. The cookbook is a 1907 church cookbook compiled by the Ladies of the Trout Run M.E. Church, Trout Run, Pa.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Put the egg whites into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric beater until stiff peaks form. Slowly add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while continuing to beat. Add flour, and beat just enough to blend it into the mixture. Then gently fold the hickory nuts into the egg white mixture. Drop by rounded teaspoons two inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the macaroons are just starting to turn light brown.
Makes approximately 36 macaroons.
The verdict—The macaroons were incredible. They were light and airy with a chewy texture on the inside and crispy on the outside, and the complex buttery taste of the hickory nuts took me back to long-forgotten flavor sensations from my childhood.
Here’s the original recipe. Would you interpret it the same way that I did?