Weeknight Cooking

Recipe Rewrite: Batter Pudding

June 28, 2012

Batter Pudding

We at FOOD52 know the glories and delights of community cookbooks: the wacky headnotes, the genius hacks, the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Turns out community cookbooks from the early 1900s have those same idiosyncracies.

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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:

Batter Pudding

Melissa Clark’s version:

Melissa Clark

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.

Serves 6

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:

Chris Cosentino

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
4 eggs
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!

Batter Pudding eaten

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Brette Warshaw

Written by: Brette Warshaw

I'm a reader, eater, culinary thrill-seeker, and food nerd.

1 Comment

Alexandra H. June 30, 2012
What a great exercise! This speaks to Ruth Reichl's comment about knowing for whom you ar writing a recipe. Having worked in pro/restaurant kitchens, Chris's recipe seems geared towards an experienced cook who needs only a framework to follow (what do "well blended" eggs look like? why am I "beating" eggs, but "whisking" other things?), and assumes the cook knows how to make (or has) a "favorite" fruit sauce. Melissa's recipe is infinitely clearer, with no assumptions made about the cook's ability, yet manages to be precise and reassuring at the same time. Both recipes are great (and I have cookbooks by both writers), but if I had to wager on success rates for home cooks based on each writer's instructions, Melissa would be the hands-down winner.