Thursday, March 24, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly: Juicy Fruits

The Challenge: It's fruits! Do something with fruits. It doesn't get more simple than that. Bonus points for the use of heritage crops and ingredients.

I considered a couple of options, but ultimately settled on a recipe for Orange Pudding from The Cook's Oracle, which I've been using for most of these challenges.

The recipe intrigued me because I couldn't quite figure out what kind of pudding it was. Historic puddings are quite dense, like a wet, heavy cake. What we today consider a pudding was called custard historically. There didn't seem to be much flour (from the bun) in it. I also puzzled over how big a twopenny bun would have been in 1817.

Year/Region: 1817/London

How Did You Make It?: For the most part, I followed the recipe to the best I could. I heated about 5 Tablespoons of orange peel, 2 cups of milk, about 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan. For the twopenny roll, I tore up a hotdog bun and ran it through a food processor. It was a total guess; it was also all the bread we happened to have in the house. If I felt I needed it, I could have added some panko at the last minute.

I brought the mixture to a boil and then let it cool a bit since I knew I'd be adding it to eggs and didn't want to curdle them.  I really did attempt to strain it, but with no luck. I had suspected it wouldn't
really be possible. The mixture was quite thick and paste-like at this point. I can't imagine a twopenny roll would be smaller than a hotdog bun.

I mixed 4 eggs and 1 1/3 cups of orange juice, then tempered them by adding small amounts of the warm milk mixture. Once I'd tempered the eggs, I poured them into the saucepan and mixed well.

The recipe didn't specify what kind of container to cook it in, nor a temperature, only the amount of time (30 minutes). I opted to grease a pudding mold and baked at 350 degrees. It was still a bit soupy after 30 minutes, so I put it in for another 30, checking every 10 minutes. Perhaps if I'd added more bread crumbs it might have set up more firmly and more quickly. A higher cook temperature--say 400 degrees--would also be an option.

At 60 minutes, the house smelled delicious, a sure sign the pudding was as done as it was going to get. I decided to let it cool for 20 minutes before seeing if it was the kind of pudding that could be unmolded or whether it would have to be served with a spoon.

I was fairly terrified about the unmolding, but the pudding had deflated quite a bit after 20 minutes and did hold together when flipped. It sort of made its own sauce.

Time to Complete: about 2 hours, including cooling time.

Total Cost: Hard to say, as I had all the ingredients. If I'd had to buy it, the costs would have been roughly as follows: orange peel=$3.00, juice=$1.50, milk=50 cents, sugar=pennies, roll=25 cents, 4 eggs=85 cents. Total = about $6.20 or so.

How Successful Was It?: I strongly suspect I should have doubled the amount of bread crumbs. While the smell the intensely orange, the taste was quite subtle. The texture was a bit like a corn pudding, and I wish I could have figured out a way to strain it as the orange peel remained in the pudding in little chewy bits. Perhaps the bread crumbs could have been added after straining. I don't think it would appeal to the modern palate, but it wasn't terrible.

How Accurate Was It?: I did use some modern substitutions--dried orange peel and orange juice from concentrate. And again, I totally guessed on the size of the roll.

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