An easy, authentic dish with a pretty unusual texture!
I'm taking advantage of my free time this week to get as many recipes in as I can before next week. Between Thanksgiving and the fact that I will probably be working on Black Friday, I seriously doubt I'm going to have a lot of time to spend on the blog. One dish I knew I wanted to make before November was over was pumpkin pudding, with a recipe straight from Felicity's Cook Book!
While pumpkins ripen in fall and historically could keep in cellars throughout the winter, lately, it seems like pumpkin is the flavor of late September through November, and then is quickly replaced by peppermint. Seriously, it's a little bit frightening how many pumpkin and peppermint themed things people have come up with. Anyway, I figured in keeping with recent tradition, I should try to get this in before the end of the month, and fortunately, I did!
I managed to snag a copy of Felicity's Cook Book from Etsy, along with Felicity's Craft Book and a bonus copy of the original version of Happy Birthday, Felicity! The old style cookbooks are probably my favorite format for the official AG recipes, because they have a lot of great information about cooking, food and customs in historic America. The cooking studios do a pretty good job of recreating this, but like I mentioned in my post featuring recipes from Kit's Cooking Studio, there isn't a lot of specific historic information tied to the recipes featured there. In comparison, Felicity's Cook Book includes at least one comment about an ingredient, dish or social custom associated with it, as well as a fairly lengthy introduction to colonial cooking, and separate explanations about an average breakfast and dinner for Felicity, as well as favorite foods she and her family might have enjoyed. I don't own Felicity's Cooking Studio, but from what I've seen, most of the recipes are repeated there. I hope they kept the historical commentary, too.
The pumpkin pudding is featured on the cover of the book, and is included in the "Favorite Foods" chapter. In the introduction to the chapter, it's mentioned that pumpkin pudding was Felicity's favorite dessert, which she always looked forward to eating in the fall and early winter. Her affinity for pumpkins is mentioned briefly in Meet Felicity, when her mother assumes she had been out early poking around in the garden checking on her pumpkins, when she was actually visiting Penny and earning her trust.
So needless to say, I was excited to try out the alleged favorite dessert of one of my favorite American Girls. The dish was pretty simple to make, too, which I'm always pleased to see, especially in a cook book that's aimed at young girls and their parents. It's broken up into only five steps, and the first is to break up the eggs and mix them until they're light yellow. Next, add the pumpkin and mix them together.
My can of pumpkin was technically an ounce short (fifteen ounces is not a pound), but it didn't really seem like it was going to influence the recipe too much. Once it's all combined, add the spices, molasses and milk. Mix all that together, and pour it into a greased casserole dish. I used butter to grease mine, but it wouldn't really photograph well, so just imagine that it's here.
The pudding has to cook in the oven for an hour, and the recipe didn't say if it had to be served warm, cold or at room temperature. It smelled pretty fantastic - like a more molasses-y pumpkin pie - and it came out of the oven looking just like the picture in the cookbook. The center seemed pretty runny when it first came out, but after it set for a while, it got firmer and looked even closer to what I expected it to be like.
This is the second AG recipe I've done that I really feel like a kid could tackle mostly by themselves. The only thing I feel like a parent might be needed for is putting the pudding in and taking it out of the oven, which really isn't too much hassle at all. I didn't even take out the hand mixer, and all the combining can be done with a spatula or even just a spoon, so I think it's a pretty kid friendly recipe.
But was it kid friendly to eat?
Unfortunately, I was really not a fan of this dish. I wanted to like it! I really did! And I kept eating the dish I'd made for myself hoping it would work better for me the more I got used to it, but I was just not a fan. The flavor wasn't that bad, but for something that's supposed to be a dessert, it was just too savory for me, which I'm sure means nothing because I live in a time and place where I have way too much sugar in my diet, and Felicity didn't. I'm sure this would have been super sweet and tasty to her, but even compared to some of the other colonial desserts I've made, this was really not what I'd look for in a dessert. I wonder if it could be better adapted to a modern palate by adding actual sugar instead of relying only on molasses to sweeten it.
On top of that, the texture was weird. It was definitely cooked all the way through, and it looked like it would have the same consistency as a pumpkin pie filling, but it was wet, sort of squishy and spongy, and just generally really unpleasant. I tried pairing it with some vanilla ice cream in an attempt to make it sweeter, and while the flavors went together nicely? The textures definitely didn't, and I just wasn't sure how to salvage it.
I'm glad I tried it, and I'm glad I was able to fit it in this month, but I think it's pretty safe to say that it's not something I'm going to make again, and I'm not sure I can in good conscience recommend it to anyone else unless you're just curious to try it yourself. It's certainly easy to make, doesn't have too many ingredients and isn't a huge time commitment, so I don't think it's completely not worth the effort, but I've had a chance to try a lot of colonial and colonial inspired desserts over the years, and this one just didn't do anything for me. I'd much rather finish a meal with some spice cakes or apple pie, and if I'm really in the mood for something pumpkin, I think I'll stick with a traditional pumpkin pie for now.
Oh well, I guess this means there's more for Felicity!