to make an orange puding

It’s citrus season in southern California. My weekly farmer’s market is full of varieties I’ve never seen before. On the freeway this week, I drove past a truck pulling two caged trailers almost overflowing with small oranges. It inspired me. Later that day I decided to try this recipe for an “orange puding” from Ms. Codex 252 because I had all the ingredients in my kitchen: navel oranges, eggs, sugar, and butter. I also had some leftover pastry in the freezer, but making a batch from scratch would only add salt and flour to that ingredients list! This dessert is somewhere between a modern pudding and a custard pie and it captures the powerful taste of oranges.

The Recipe

orange puding

to make an orange puding

Take the rinds of 3 oringes boyle them in 3 watters ore 4 till they be tender
then beat them in a morter put to them 5 eggs leaue out 2 whitts; halfe a pound
of sugar and halfe a pound of butter beat all together tell it be well mixt then put
it in a Dishe with a littell puffe paest Crust one the top and the Bottom

Our Recipe

I made very few changes to this one. I halved the quantities to try it out in a smaller pan, so I’ve included full and half ingredients below. I also decided to make a lattice top for the pie instead of completely enclosing the custard. This allowed me to keep an eye on how it was cooking. It also allowed the top of the custard to form a beautiful, crunchy crust that added a great texture to each bite.

Full                                                                         Half

3 oranges                                                               1 1/2 – 2 oranges, depending on size
5 eggs (3 whole, 2 yolks)                                     3 eggs (2 whole, 1 yolk)
1/2 lb sugar (1c)                                                   1/4 lb sugar (1/2 c)
1/2 lb butter, soft (2 sticks or 16 T)                  1/4 lb butter, soft (1 stick or 8T)
1 batch pastry (Use your favorite pie crust recipe here. I used Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Cook Everything)

Prepare your pastry and follow instructions on chilling or resting.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Peel the oranges carefully, avoiding the bitter white pith. Put the orange rinds into a small saucepan with a cup of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer until the rinds are tender. Set aside to cool.

Butter an ovenproof pie dish. Roll out the pastry and place the bottom crust in the ovenproof dish.

When the rinds are slightly cooled, blitz them in a food processor until they form a bright orange paste. If the food processor is large you may need to scrape down the sides a few times. A mortar and pestle (as the original recipe instructs) or simply chopping the peels finely will also work here.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Either do this by hand, use a standing mixer, or a handheld mixer. Add cooked orange rinds and eggs. Mix until the custard becomes slightly fluffy. Pour into the prepared crust.

Top with a lattice crust, a full crust, or simply leave the custard open.

Bake for 45 minutes. (I checked at 30 minutes and checked every 5 minutes thereafter.) The pie is cooked when the crust is golden and the custard sets –a tester inserted in the center should come out clean.

The Results

At first I wasn’t sure about this one. When I sliced the pie and took my first bite the butter from the custard and the crust was completely overwhelming. But the next day I had friends over to try some archival desserts (stay tuned for more) and my second slice was divine. A day later, the orange flavor had deepened and the butter no longer dominated. I refrigerated the pie overnight, but let it come to room temperature before I served it the second day. This would be a great recipe to make a day in advance of a dinner or gathering.

Although I’m never one to say no to pastry, I think this pudding might be tastier as a crust-less custard like the “carrot pudding” we made a few months ago. This variation would also inevitably decrease the amount of butter in the dish and perhaps render my previous comment irrelevant.

Whether you have too many oranges on your hands or just want to cook something with citrus that tastes bright and fresh, “orange puding” is a quirky winter treat.

 

 

 

 

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Lemonade

In August I moved to southern California from Philadelphia. Yes, dear readers, while Alyssa and I are still posting recipes we cooked together this summer, still scouring the manuscript archives at Penn in person and through digital surrogates, still scheming up delightful things to cook and share, we’re no longer working side-by-side in the kitchen. To cope with this change and steel myself for an October heatwave in the triple digits, I decided to start my weekend by making lemonade from a recipe in MS Codex 1038.

The Recipe

lemonade

To Make Lemonade.
Hamers-
ley

Boil One Quart of Spring Water, let it stand ’till it is
Milk Warm. Pare five clear Lemons very thin and put the
parings in the warm water. Let it stand all Night, the next
Morning strain off the peel thro’ a fine Lawn Sieve, Squeeze
the Juice of the five Lemons. Strain it and put it in the
Water, put in Eleven Ounces of double Refin’d Sugar, One
Spoonfull of Orange flower water. Mix these well together,
it will be fit for use.

This recipe is wonderfully lazy: Infuse the water with lemons overnight, sweeten and season it in the morning. Sip lemonade all day. Repeat.

I think that there are two valid ways to interpret this recipe’s instructions for preparing the lemons. Both interpretations depend on how one defines the verb “pare.” This recipe is from the eighteenth or early nineteenth century and according to The Oxford English Dictionary “pare” was used around this time to describe both slicing and peeling fruit. Here are two approximate paraphrases of the text above:

1) Slice five lemons very thinly and add the slices to the warm water. Strain mix in the morning. Squeeze any remaining juice from the lemon slices into the mix.

2) Peel five lemons and add the peel to the warm water. Set five peeled lemons aside. Strain mix in the morning. Squeeze the juice from five peeled lemons into the mix.

I decided to proceed with the first interpretation, but I’d be curious to hear from any readers who try the other method of preparation.

I was also curious about the recipe’s specification for “clear lemons.” Other historical recipes like the ones on this blog also require clear lemons. I turned to the Oxford English Dictionary again and found that “clear” was increasingly becoming a synonym for “unbruised” or “unblemished” around the time this recipe book was compiled. Following suit, I selected the best lemons I had on hand for this recipe.

In the past I’ve purchased useful and cheap ($2) orange blossom water from various Indian grocery stores to use in baking and cocktails. My choice to fix this recipe this weekend was partly inspired by finding a bottle of it in my local cheese shop. The Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water is a bit stronger than other floral waters I’ve used in the past and it hold up to the acidity of the lemons in this recipe.

Our Recipe

5 lemons, sliced

1 quart water

11 ounces sugar (1 1/2 c) – or to taste

1 T orange blossom water

ice and/or sparkling water to serve

Day 1:

Boil a quart of water and set aside to cool. Slice five lemons as thin as possible. Let the water cool until it is warm to the touch, but no longer scalding. Add lemons, cover, and let sit overnight.

Day 2:

Strain the lemon mix and squeeze remaining juice from the lemons. Reserve a few slices to garnish your lemonade. Stir in the sugar. Add the orange blossom water.

When I first tasted the unsweetened, electric yellow lemon infusion it was delightfully tart. Normally I don’t like my drinks *too* sweet and I often adjust the amount of sugar in recipes accordingly, but the mixture was so strong I decided to use the full amount this time. The finished lemonade was syrupy and very, very sweet. To my taste, the citrus and floral notes were a bit overwhelmed by the sweetness. With a few ice cubes and a lemon garnish it was much more refreshing. After sipping half my glass, I added a generous pour of sparkling water and found my perfect version of this lemonade. In the future, I might halve the sugar instead.

Still, this lemonade greatly improved my steamy Saturday. If the heat wave holds on for much longer, I might try it again with variations adding like thyme, sage, rosemary, mint, or lemon balm from my garden to the initial infusion, or even swapping out the orange blossom water for rose water.