The Pumpkin Series: Pumpkin Pudding
"Take a pint of pumpkin that has been stewed soft, and pressed through a cullender. Melt in half a pint of warm milk, a quarter of a pound of butter, and the same quantity of sugar, stirring them well together. If you can conveniently procure a pint of rich cream it will be better than the milk and butter. Beat eight eggs very light, and add them gradually to the other ingredients, alternately with the pumpkin. Then stir in a wine glass of rosewater and a glass of wine mixed together; a large tea-spoonful of powdered mace and cinnamon mixed, and a grated nutmeg. Having stirred the whole very hard, put it into a buttered dish and bake it three quarters of an hour. Eat it cold."
Eliza Leslie, Miss Leslie's Complete Cookery, 1853
When looking up historic receipts for cooking pumpkins what you will find is MANY pumpkin pie receipts, a few baked pumpkin (pompion) receipts, and couple that are something completely different. The receipt above is one of those different ones, and one of the main reasons I chose to make it.
I had recently acquired "Miss Leslie's Complete Cookery" and have found it a treasure trove of receipts! I can see why this is the 49th edition of the cookbook, even though it was only published 15 years earlier in 1838. Which goes to show how vastly popular it was. And I was especially intrigued with the introduction, where she pretty much chastises the young women of the younger generation who can barely navigate a kitchen, hence the reason for such detailed receipts. She's pretty much assuming you don't know anything about cooking. Which is a bit of a change from earlier receipts, which sound like a baking challenge from British Bake Off.
For this particular receipt, I decided to go with the Boston Marrow pumpkin. I felt that the custard like consistency of the flesh would go well with this pudding.
I didn't get pictures of the cutting/peeling/stewing/straining of this particular pumpkin, but the end result is shown in the middle blue bowl in the picture below!
So here's the cast of characters. Gotta love my ultra chic wine glass!
First, it is time to make a wonderfully sweet, warm cream! Yes, cream. Though I appreciate that she describes the method to use if you are out of fresh cream, I have the luck of living near a supermarket and was able to acquire cream rather easily. Perks of modern day living!
So, on a low heat, I stirred in the sugar with the cream till it was warm to the touch. Then I put it aside.
Now I've sat and hand beat eggs till they are good and light. It is possible, but your arm will feel it for days after. So I decided to cheat a little and took out my electric beater.
And Voila! Nice and light eggs, beaten in only minutes flat. And no arms were hurt in the process!
So I'll admit it, I didn't exactly follow the order of the ingredient integration stated in the receipt above. I kinda went rouge and added the wine/rosewater first.
Now with the measurements, I knew about how much a glass of white wine would be at (though it's not pictured in an appropriate wine glass) but the measurement of a wine glass of rosewater was throwing me off. Rose water is VERY potent, and I wondered if it would be way too much. Did she mean like a dessert wine glass? Needless to say I measured about a quarter of what the wine measured at (so a quarter of a wine glass) but I still thought, at the time, it would be way overpowering for a delicate custard. But I would have to see.
So, in went the wine/rose water mixture and it was beaten into the egg mixture, making for a nice and frothy mixture.
At the same time I added the pumpkin, all at once. Again, going rogue with this one.
Then it was time to, slowly, add the warm, sweet cream into the eggs. I did this while beating the eggs, to help keep the eggs from cooking with the warm milk. Then I added the cinnamon and powdered mace. I was light on the mace because I knew I would be adding nutmeg as well!
Now that it was all mixed it looked like a really great batter for bread pudding! It almost made me change the receipt.
But I wasn't going rogue that much! Maybe in the future...
So, while the oven heated up to 350 degrees, I buttered a baking dish and poured the batter in. I put a cookie sheet underneath it in case of spillage (which happened while I was putting it in the oven).
Once I put it in the oven I put the timer for 45 minutes, since it's what Miss Leslie states. Then I checked on it 15 minutes into baking. It looked exactly the same. Then I realized that there was a glitch with my oven it was actually at reading at 160 degrees rather than 350 degrees. So I turned the oven off and back on. Waited for it to heat back up (which it did this time) and then baked it for another half hour. So, if your oven is working, it would probably be 45 minutes. If your oven is on the fritz, then it might take a hour and a half, like in my case.
Once it was done, and nice and golden on top, I pulled it out of the oven to cool for several hours. Then I put it into the fridge over night to make sure it was nice and cold.
The next morning I dished out a fairly fluffy custard that smelled like roses, which made me think of every 18th century cake I've ever baked. I was so excited to try it!
But, sadly, that excitement was short lived. One bite confirmed my earlier suspicions. The overwhelming taste of rosewater blotted out any other flavor, even the copious amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg I put in. The one positive is it had a lovely, silky texture that was very pleasing, though I had to spit it out from the overwhelming flavor. I didn't even try to have a "husband reaction" to this particular receipt, mainly because I know he wouldn't have forgiven me for making him try it.
I realize now I should have gone with my instincts and only added a splash of rosewater to the wine. Or, maybe if I want to go rouge again, try a little vanilla with it! I'll have to try it again some time.
But for now I'll put this under the heading "You learn from your mistakes!"