Monday, February 23, 2015

Betsy Challenge 19: Something Borrowed, Something Blue

I knew that blue foods would be tricky even when we were planning the challenges last summer. Blue foods just aren't really plentiful. The obvious one - blueberries - didn't become popular in recipes until well after my chosen time period (1840s-1860s). So I decided to stretch myself into a new era, and I even had a book I was interested in using.

Fannie Farmer is a legendary chef in American cookery. Her recipe book, The Boston Cooking-School Book, completely revolutionized the way cookbooks were written. Prior to its publication, most cookbooks relied on cooks' knowledge of arbitrary measurements. We're familiar with these at the Historical Food Fortnightly - "butter the size of an egg", and so forth. Fannie Farmer's cookbook promoted a scientific approach to cooking and standardized these measurements into the ones we know today - cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons. She also relied on volume rather than weight. Whether or not this was an improvement, and what it did to American cooking, is up for debate (and if you're interested on how the post-Fannie Farmer home economics movement changed women's roles and domesticity, I highly recommend you check out Made From Scratch by Jean Zimmerman). However, it means that the recipe does not require any of the fudging or translating that older recipes do!

I also borrowed my mom's kitchen to make this, yet again.

The Challenge: Something Borrowed, Something Blue

The Recipe: Steamed Blueberry Pudding, from The Boston Cooking-School Book

The Date/Year and Region: 1912 (Revised Edition), Boston

How Did You Make It: I rubbed the butter into the dry ingredients with my fingertips (which is a technique I learned while learning to make soda bread - it's similar to using a pastry cutter or running it through a food processor, but ends up with a lighter finish). Then I added the milk and the blueberries dredged in flour, put it in the steamer, and put that in a stock pot with water to steam for an hour and a half. Took it out, got it out of the mold, and ate it - couldn't have been easier! And my small mold was a perfect size.

Time To Complete: About an hour and 45 minutes

Total Cost: Less than $5

How Successful Was It?: It's pretty tasty! I didn't have time to make the sauce that should have gone with it, but we had whipped cream on it and that was a nice addition. With no sugar added to it, it's a little bland on its own. I was a little concerned about the taste with so much baking powder added to it, but it turned out like a big biscuit with juicy blueberries in it. The family taste-tested it and gave it two thumbs up.

How Accurate Is It?: No heirloom ingredients but otherwise I followed the recipe to the letter.

Have some pictures!

Rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients

Blueberries are surely the prettiest fruit...

Put into the mold for steaming...bon voyage, buddy!

The finished product! It got a little stuck to the pan but it tasted lovely!


  1. Sounds yummy! Blueberries are too expensive this time of year. I'm still trying to come up with something borrowed.

    1. I thought mine would be very expensive, too, but blueberries were on sale at the store, so that helped!