Sunday, September 23, 2012


We have victory! I successfully reproduced two historic recipes- baked apple pudding and cider cake. The food looked decent (it certainly looked historical) and received great acclaim from those who tried it.

Wearing a red-checked apron given to me for this project by a thoughtful professor, I felt ready for an episode of Mad Men. I headed to the Interfaith House kitchen with a measure of anxiety. The cause of my worry? The puff paste. I’d never made a modern puff pastry before, and the three page instructions in Seventy-Five Receipts (which I’ve posted below) were confusing at best. I ended up relying on a combination of these instructions and the modernized ones in The Old Sturbridge Village Cookbook, and achieved great results.

I began with the baked apple pudding, which meant preparing the puff paste first, then stewing the apples. I had gone grocery shopping and managed to find all ingredients except rose water. According to the Internet, I could have gotten rose water if I looked hard enough, but decided that the average family using the book may not have had all ingredients. It was all in the spirit of flexibility. I next moved on to the cider cake, which would have been a challenge without the kitchen scale. After measuring out .5 of the l.5 pounds of flour the recipe called for, I decided to halve the recipe. Though the unusually thick batter had me worried at first, it was otherwise an easy, straightforward process.

Among my taste-testers, the consensus was that the baked apple pudding was the more exciting dish. Essentially applesauce baked into a pie, the lemon peel provided an intriguing flavor combination. I can’t help but wonder what rose water would have done for taste; perhaps I’ll find out as I prepare a selection of recipes again for my end-of-year presentation. The cider cake batter had a great apple flavor to it, but it was more or less cooked off during baking. We determined that the cake would pair well with coffee. Both dishes were extremely hardy. After trying each, we felt full and ready for an afternoon of tilling fields or building stonewalls.

As expected, the process required a good amount of guesswork, flexibility, and trusting of instincts, but the session was not nearly as difficult as I thought it might be. Thanks to all who came to help me convert measurements, make subjective decisions, and provide moral support. All are welcome to come visit/taste, every other Friday (generally starting at one) at the Trinity Interfaith House. This project gets more exciting every day!

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