Old-fashioned Rhubarb Fanchonettes (Rhubarb Tarts with Meringue Topping)

It’s peak rhubarb season here – so it’s time to try new rhubarb recipe. . . Well, actually, this being A Hundred Years Ago, it’s time to try a “new” old recipe. I found a great recipe for Rhubarb Fanchonettes in a 1919 magazine. Fanchonettes are basically Rhubarb Tarts with Meringue Topping.

The Fanchonettes are a perfect spring treat. The small, individual tarts are a nice size for a snack or dessert. The rhubarb filling is delightfully tart and balanced by the sweet meringue topping.

Here is the original recipe:

rhubarb fanchonettes recipe
Source: American Cookery (March, 1919)

I found some aspects of this recipe fussy and  challenging. For example, I couldn’t figure out why the rhubarb needed to be cooked twice, so I just cooked the rhubarb until tender and then stirred in the other ingredients, but didn’t reheat. And, what are brownie tins?

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Old-fashioned Rhubarb Fanchonettes (Rhubarb Tarts with Meringue Topping)

  • Servings: 12 - 15 Fanchonettes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Fanchonettes

5 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1 tablespoon grated orange peel (I used lemon juice.)

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons flour

2 egg yolks, beaten

pie pastry (Enough for a 2-crust 9-inch pie – more may be needed if pre-rolled sheets are used. I re-rolled pastry scraps several times to make all of the small fanchonette shells.)

Place rhubarb pieces and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the rhubarb is tender while stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and strain to remove excess liquid. (It is okay if there is still a little liquid after draining). Measure the cooked rhubarb; there should be approximately 2 cups. (Excess rhubarb can be sweetened and eaten as stewed rhubarb.) Return to pan. Stir in lemon juice, sugar, salt, and flour. Quickly stir in the egg yolks. (If the rhubarb is still very hot, stir a small amount of the cooked rhubarb to the beaten egg yolks while stirring rapidly to avoid coagulation of the yolks; then quickly stir the egg yolk mixture into the remaining rhubarb.) Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll pastry dough and cut into pieces. Fit each piece into a small pie pan; trim and flute edges to make the fanchonette shells. (I used a fairly shallow muffin pan to make the fanchonettes.) The number needed will vary depending upon size, but approximately 12-15 should be enough to hold all the filling.

Fill each fanchonette shell with cooked rhubarb mixture. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F. Continue baking until the rhubarb comes to a slow rolling boil. Remove from oven, and top each fanchonette with a heaping tablespoonful of Meringue (see recipe below). Spread Meringue to edge of fanchonette. Bake at 325° F. for 10 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.

Meringue

2 egg whites

4 tablespoons sugar

Place egg whites in a bowl, and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar while continuing to beat.

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.

Old-fashioned Raisin and Rhubarb Pie

When I saw a recipe for Raisin and Rhubarb Pie in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Raisins and rhubarb, rhubarb and raisins. . .  I knew that the alliteration was what drew me to the recipe . . .but, I kept thinking, what does this recipe taste like? Would I like it?

So before I knew it,  I was making a Raisin and Rhubarb Pie.  I was rewarded with a lovely taste sensation. The sweetness of the raisins perfectly balanced the zesty rhubarb to create a scrupulous old-fashioned pie.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Source: Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book (1917)

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

Raisin and Rhubarb Pie

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup raisins

1 1/2 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 egg, beaten

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon flour

pastry for 8-inch (small) 2-crust pie

milk

sugar

Heat oven to 425° F.  In a bowl put egg, sugar, salt, and flour; stir until mixed together. Add raisins and rhubarb, stir gently to combine. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan. Cover with top crust and flute edges. Brush crust with a small amount of milk; sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven for 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350° F. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and juice just begins to bubble.

Rhubarb and Pineapple Conserve

Rhubarb and pineapple conserve

It never seems quite like spring until I make a few rhubarb recipes, so when I saw a recipe for Rhubarb Conserve in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping, I just had to give it a try. In addition to the rhubarb the recipe called for a pineapple (as well as for the juice and grated peel of an orange).

Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)

The recipe turned out wonderfully, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. The conserve tastes more like a pineapple conserve than a rhubarb one with lovely sunny notes of pineapple that are slightly muted by the tartness of the rhubarb.

And, it wasn’t a bright red color like I anticipated. Instead the conserve is a blend of delightful shades of yellow, green, and brown. The rhubarb I used had a little red in the stalks–but much of the length was green. This may have affected the color. I also did a little research and discovered that rhubarb jam recipes often call for strawberry gelatin or other added coloring agents so I now think that the conserve color is exactly right given the ingredients I used.

Conserves are typically served with meat, and this conserve is lovely with pork or poultry, but I also enjoy using it as a marmalade on toast and English muffins.

Rhubarb Conserve meat

When I worked on this post, I pondered whether I should use the old name or whether that was misleading. In the end, I decided to add “pineapple” to the recipe title, but to keep the keep the word conserve.

The bottom line: Whatever this recipe is called, it is delightful and something that I would make again.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Old-fashioned Rhubarb and Pineapple Conserve

  • Servings: 5 one-half pint jelly jars
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 pineapple (approximately 4 cups shredded pineapple)

4 cups rhubarb, chopped

juice of 1 orange

grated rind of 1 orange

2 1/3 cups sugar

Core pineapple and remove flesh from skin, then shred into small pieces. Place in a large sauce pan.  Add rhubarb, orange juice, grated orange peel, and sugar. Let sit for 1/2 hour to allow the juice to start flowing; then using medium high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and boil gently for 30-40 minutes or until the mixture is the consistency of jam. Stir frequently — especially towards the end of the cooking time.

A good way to tell if the mixture is the right consistency is to lay the spoon that is used for stirring on a plate. Allow the liquid clinging to the spoon to cool for a few seconds, and see if it has a jam-like consistency.

Pour mixture into hot one-half pint jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe jar rim and adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Baked Rhubarb with Orange

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, May 2, 1913: My thoughts this evening are hardly worth writing about.

rhubarb with orange

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma—There must have been something worth writing a hundred years ago today. Did you ever try the menus that were published in Good Housekeeping magazine?may.1913.menu

menu.may.3.crop

One of the foods listed on the May 3, 1913 menu is Baked Rhubarb with Orange.  .

Baked Rhubarb with Orange

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

5 cups Rhubarb cut into 1 inch pieces

3 oranges

Preheat oven to 375°. In a small bowl combine the sugar, mace, cloves, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Wash the oranges, and pare off the peel thinly; coarsely chop and then set aside. Remove white inner skin and seeds from oranges and halve. Cut halved oranges into 1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl combine the rhubarb, orange pieces, chopped orange peel, and sugar mixture.  Put into a 2-quart baking dish.

Bake in oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and bubbly—and the rhubarb is tender.

Serve hot or cold.

Adapted from recipe in Good Housekeeping (May, 1913)

This dish is excellent. The orange peel and spices nicely balance the tartness of the rhubarb.

According to the old Good Housekeeping magazine:

Rhubarb thus prepared keeps well, and is good morning, noon, and night. As a breakfast relish, nothing is finer than a very tiny saucer of it.

Previous posts with other rhubarb recipes include:

Stewed Rhubarb (Rhubarb Sauce)

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

Rhubarb Pudding

Rhubarb Pudding Recipe

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, April 25, 1912: I am beginning to worry about final exams. I’m afraid that I may get left in some of my studies. But I hope that it won’t happen that way.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

It sounds like Grandma was at the procrastination stage—she knew that she needed to study, but hadn’t gotten beyond worrying.

When I procrastinate, I think of other things that MUST be done—like cooking.

Here’s an old Rhubarb Pudding recipe that I found in the April 1912 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.

Rhubarb Pudding

Sift together two cupfuls of flour, a pinch of salt, spices as desired, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder and half a cupful of sugar. Stir in one egg beaten with half a cupful of milk and two tablespoonfuls of butter; add two cupfuls of rhubarb, cut into small pieces (use the pink part with the skin left on), bake twenty minutes and serve with a sauce.

The only spice that I used was 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. The batter was extremely thick. I baked the Rhubarb Pudding in a 375 degree oven. It took about 40 minutes for the top to brown lightly. (Maybe I should have used a higher temperature.)

The Rhubarb Pudding was quite good. It was a pleasant mixture of sweet and tart tastes, and had the texture of shortcake.

I served the Rhubarb Pudding with Vanilla Sauce.

Vanilla Sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

dash salt

1 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

dash nutmeg

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in sauce pan. Add boiling water; and boil until thick and clear. Continue simmering over low heat, while stirring for 20 minutes. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and nutmeg. Can be refrigerated and reheated.

Rhubarb is one of my favorite Spring foods. Here are the links to past posts that included Rhubarb Recipes:

Stewed Rhubarb (Rhubarb Sauce)

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

Rhubarb Sponge Pie Recipe

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, June 5, 1911: Mother, Besse and Ruthie flew around today a baking pies and cakes. I thought it be fun to swipe one, but oh, the result.

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

 Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma’s married sister Besse came to help her mother and sister bake pies and cakes. It sounds like Grandma didn’t help—I wonder why. As a 16-year-old, you’d think that she’d be a competent baker (or at least could help with some of the easier tasks). But instead Grandma apparently was clowning around—and swiped a pie—and got into trouble. Whew, what  punishment was referred to as “the result”?

What kinds of pie did they make? My favorite old-fashioned spring pie is Rhubarb Sponge Pie. (I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. However, it is an old-time Pennsylvania recipe—and the Muffly women may have made a similar pie.)

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

3 eggs

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup sugar

dash salt

1 cup milk

2 cups rhubarb

9 inch pie shell (see recipe below)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Beat eggs slightly. Add flour, nutmeg, sugar, and salt; Beat for 1 minute. Add milk and beat until blended. Stir in rhubarb. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake (1 – 1  1/2 hours*) until knife inserted into center pie comes out clean.

*This pie takes a long time to bake. If the rhubarb starts to turn brown (burn) before the center of the pie is solid, reduce heat to 300 degrees.

Any pie pastry recipe—or a pie pastry purchased at the store— can be used to make Rhubarb Sponge Pie. But for a really flakey crust with an absolutely awesome taste, make an old-fashioned pie shell using lard.

I absolutely love the recipe below. At the stores where I shop lard can be surprisingly difficult to find—and I am always searching for it so that I can make really good pies. (Clayton and Elizabeth, thank you for the lard that I used to make the pie in the photo!)

In any case, here’s the recipe:

Old-Fashioned Pie Pastry (1 crust, 9 inch)

 1 cup flour

1/3 cup lard

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Put flour into bowl. Cut in shortening  using two knives or a pastry blender. Add water and mix using a fork until dough starts to cling together. If needed, add additional water.

With a little practice it’s easy to cut lard (or shortening) into the flour using two knives. I learned how to do it when I was young and have never felt a need to buy a pastry blender.

Gather dough together in a ball. Flatten into a round circle on lightly floured surface (a floured pastry cloth works well).  Roll dough 2 inches larger than needed to fit pie pan using floured rolling pin. Fold pastry into quarters; unfold and fit into pan.

Trim  edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of pan. Flute pastry to create edge by pressing between fingers that are moving in opposite directions.

Fluting pie edge