A few years ago, my mom gave me a cookbook. Okay, she has given me many cookbooks, but this one is like a history lesson. It is a 2003 reprint of The Original White House Cook Book - 1887 edition
It has the original measurements, comments and recipes. So cool!
This cookbook can be a challenge to use today, however. Measurements are a little different. Common measurements in this cookbook are a teacup, a coffee cup (and parts of each), a handful (whose hand?!), a dollop, etc. I have loved playing with it.
There are many handy tips, too. Tips for bread making, such as:
Home-made yeast is preferred to any other. Yeast now sold in many grocery stores can make a fine bread, and can always be had fresh, being made every day.
Tips for knowing if your oven is the right temperature to bake a cake:
The heat should be tested before the cake is put in, which can be done by throwing on the floor of the oven a tablespoonful of new flour. If the flour takes fire, or assumes a dark-brown color, the temperature is too high, and the oven must be allowed to cool; if the flour remains white after the lapse of a few seconds, the temperature is too low. When the oven is of the proper temperature, the flour will slightly brown and look slightly scorched.
I don't know if I will ever use this information, but you never know. There are instructions for carving, toast, recipes for everything, even suggestions in regard to Health, toilet recipes and the management of State Dinners.
I thought that I could tackle a recipe for bread pudding. I will type the instructions from the book and then put what I actually did.
Bread and Butter Pudding
Butter the sides and bottom of a deep pudding dish, then butter thin slices of bread, sprinkle thickly with sugar, a little cinnamon, chopped apple, or any fruit you prefer between each slice, until your dish is full. Beat up two eggs, add a soup spoon of wheat flour; stir with this three cupfuls of rich milk and a little salt; pour this over the bread, let it stand one hour and then bake slowly, with a cover on, three-quarters of an hour; then take the cover off and brown. Serve with wine and lemon sauce. Pie-plant, cut up in small pieces with plenty of sugar, is fine made in this manner.
Bread and Butter Pudding
I made a huge pan of this to feed 18 people. Feel free to scale it down.
12 large croissants, cut in half (You could use brioche, challah, or home-made bread, sliced)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups blueberries (or any fruit you want)
4 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups half and half (I didn't know what "rich milk" was)
I don't know what pie-plant is. I guess I need to google it.
Generously butter your baking pan. Mine was 16x11, half of the recipe should fit in a 13x9 inch pan just fine.
Butter the bread and layer half in the baking dish. Sprinkle half of the sugar, half of the cinnamon and half of the fruit. Repeat.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl with the flour and salt. Add the half and half and beat. Pour over the bread. Let the bread and egg mixture soak for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cover your pudding with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool.
Serve with sweetened whipped cream, lemon sauce, or wine sauce if desired. It think it would be good with lemon curd, too.
Here are the recipes (from the book) for Old-Style Sauce, what I used - except I used plain Greek yogurt because I didn't have any sour cream, and for Sauce for Pudding (Superior) which I would have used if I had had any wine.
Sauce for Pudding (Superior)
Cream together a cupful of sugar and half a cupful of butter; when light and creamy, add the well-beaten yolks of four eggs. Stir into this one wine-glass of wine or one of brandy, a pinch of salt and one large cupful of hot cream or rich milk. Beat this mixture well; place it in a sauce-pan over the fire, stir it until it cooks sufficiently to thicken like cream.. Be sure and not let it boil. Delicious.
One pint of sour cream, the juice and finely grated rind of a large lemon; sugar to taste. Beat hard and long until the sauce is very light.
PS - I just have to add these other helpful hints from 1887.
Leanness - Take plenty of sleep, drink all the water the stomach will bear in the morning on rising...cultivate jolly people, and bathe daily. :)
Under the heading "Health Suggestions" - When your body is over-heated ... be very careful about sitting down to 'cool off', as the custom of some is, by removing a part of the clothing and sitting in a cool place where there is a draught of air passing over your body. The proper way to 'cool off' when over-heated is to put on more clothing, especially if you are in a cool place; but never remove a part of the clothing you have already on. If possible, get near a fire where there is no wind blowing. (I wonder what they would have thought about todays clothing and air conditioning.)