Turns out community cookbooks from the early 1900s have those same idiosyncracies.
Enter: The Rural Cook Book, published in 1907 and written by a self-described “immense army of practical housewives.” As practical and as warrior-like as they may have been, well, let's just say they could’ve used their own Recipe Writing Week.
We took their recipe for Batter Pudding -- a muddled, confusing, and hilariously self-important recipe -- and gave it to recipe-writing professionals Melissa Clark, Chris Cosentino, and Peter Meehan to re-write in their own style. See Melissa and Chris's rewrites below; for Peter's version, check back tomorrow.
Here’s the original:
Melissa Clark’s version:
Batter Pudding with Cherry Sauce
This dish was unlike anything I’d ever made before, sort of a Dutch baby meets an omelet meets a cheesecake. The pudding itself contains no sugar and is a savory foil against the sweet cherries. I opted for fresh cherries since they are in season. But the recipe specifies dried so feel free to substitute them if you are making this out of cherry season -- or if you just don’t feel like pitting a bunch of cherries.
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 large eggs
4 cups whole milk
2 cups fresh pitted cherries, halved
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spread the butter generously over the bottom and sides of a 2-quart gratin dish.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Whisk the milk into the flour mixture, then beat in the eggs.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and set on a rimmed baking sheet in case the batter runs over the sides of the dish. Transfer pudding to the oven and bake until the top is deep golden brown and jiggles slightly when shaken, about 1 hour.
4. While the pudding bakes, combine the cherries, sugar, and 1 tablespoon water. Simmer over medium-low heat until cherries are tender and the juices are syrupy, 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Cut pudding into slices and serve, topped with cherry sauce.
Chris Cosentino’s rewrite:
Old-School Batter Pudding
This recipe reminds me of the old-fashioned oven pancakes from some of the cookbooks I collect. The original recipe calls for serving this with thickened canned fruit juice, but I think it would be better with a high-quality fruit jam or fresh berries. You could also try it with powdered sugar sprinkled over the top, or even maple syrup.
Butter for dish
About 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 quart milk
Fruit jam or sliced fresh berries
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a 1 1/2-quart oval baking dish.
Sift the flour through a fine-mesh sieve onto a piece of parchment, then spoon it back into the cup and re-measure 3/4 cup. Pour the flour back into the sieve along with the baking powder and salt and sift the whole thing into a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs until well blended. Stir in the milk. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until blended.
Pour the batter into the buttered dish and bake until the pudding has a golden brown crust on top, about 1 hour. (This slow baking will help the sides and bottom to crisp and brown, while keeping the interior tender and light).
Serve right away with your favorite fruit sauce or berries.
For Peter Meehan's recipe, check back tomorrow!