So, when I make the recipes I write about in my posts, I sometimes don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m a historian, not a chef or even a cook. I like to cook, but I don’t have any kind of expertise! So, sometimes, I’m kind of surprised with what happens when I put ingredients together, or when I put something in the oven. This whole thing is an enormous learning experience for me, and I love that!
Why am I telling you this? When I made this blackberry jam pudding, it was… well, it wasn’t an optimal experience. And, I have no idea if what I made was what the recipe’s writer intended. I don’t even know if you would get the same result if you tried it for yourself, if I’m being honest. But, I figured I would put it on my blog anyway as a lesson, and because, well, I did get something delicious in the end. I ended up getting a sticky, cake-like entity that held together when I scooped it from the baking dish, so it at least baked. It had no hint of blackberry flavor at all, but it did taste like a rich, warm, spoonful of sugary, buttery goodness. I saw nothing wrong with that!
If you’re curious, I have withheld recipes from the blog before, too. I tried making beet soup from 1908 last week, and it was an utter failure. The flavors did not go well together – beets, chicken stock, red wine, and cinnamon. It was just terrible. I also tried making a World War I recipe for potato drop cookies. I thought it’d be a fantastic lesson on cooking during rationing. The recipe called for corn syrup instead of sugar, mashed potatoes and buckwheat flour in place of regular flour, and it had no eggs or milk. The “cookies” didn’t hold together even a little bit! Everything just baked down into a paper thin, crispy sheet. And, looking at the ingredients, I had some reservations. But, I thought, “This cookbook probably knows what it’s doing.” Maybe it was the cookbook. Maybe it was my oven. Maybe it was just the year 2017. I have no idea, but it was a major failure!
So, what are we [attempting] cooking? Blackberry jam pudding from The Mississippi Cook Book of New Southern Recipes published in 1922. Let’s go!
Here are our ingredients: Salted butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, blackberry jam, baking soda, flour, and nutmeg (not pictured: salt).
Step 1: Add the sugar and the butter to a mixing bowl.
Step 2: Cream the butter and the sugar together until it’s all combined.
Step 3: Add in the eggs. The recipe says we should beat the eggs individually before adding them, but I just went for it!
Step 4: Add in the blackberry jam and the sour cream. Now, I’m just using a locally branded jam I found in my grocery store. You can use anything from homemade to mass-produced, I’m sure. Use whatever jam you’d like, but try to make sure it has as few ingredients in it as possible. That way, it’s more “natural” and “authentic,” which is probably closer to what they’d have been using back in 1922.
Step 5: Then, stir in the flour, baking soda, and nutmeg. This is where I tasted my batter. It was delicious, and it had blackberry flavor to it at this point. Spoiler: This is the last time it’ll have that blackberry flavor. What I did notice, too, was that it needed some salt. Sugary richness should always be tempered with some salt. I added just a little bit.
Step 6: So, here’s where my progress started to deteriorate a little. The next thing you want to do is pour the batter into a baking dish. I poured mine into an 8×8″ foil dish. Then, I put it in a 350 degree oven. After about ten to fifteen minutes, the batter started to rise to a dangerous height. I was worried this would happen with how full the pan was before I put it in the oven, but I decided to proceed. I quickly grabbed a sheet pan, wrenched open the oven door, and slid the pan under the baking dish just in time to catch the first globs of overflowing batter.
So, my thought process here said, “Okay, get the dish out of the oven to stop the bleeding, er overflowing.” But, then another force took over and said, “Ah, just leave it in the oven and take it out once it bakes enough that the overflowing stops.” Why I listened to the second thought, I’ll never know. So, I left the dish in the oven for thirty minutes until a large amount had baked out, but it had stopped overflowing.
When I took out the dish, I noticed that the entire middle of the thing I was trying to bake was still soupy. The only part of the pudding that had cooked was the very edge. So, what did I do? I dumped the batter into a 13×9″ pan, scooped out the part that was baked, said, “Huh, well this tastes good,” and then I scooped the rest of the baked pudding in with the rest of the batter. I smoothed it all out, and I put it back in the oven.
Step 7: After another twenty five minutes, this is what I had. Looks like burned pan char, right? Well, that’s our pudding! It was firm, so I figured it’d had enough time in the oven. But, it was still moist and sticky! I took a little bit out of the corner to taste it. Huh. The middle was buttery, sweet, sticky, gooey goodness. And, the edges were like a delightfully chewy yet crispy caramel. That’s when I decided to go ahead and post this dessert-type-entity. I don’t know what it is, but it tastes good!
Step 8: So, I noticed, too, that the recipe tells us to serve the pudding with sauce. Many years ago, I made a bread pudding recipe I found online that came with a warm sauce. Perfect! This sauce is super simple, and it’s delicious. It’s just butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, an egg, and milk cooked over medium heat until thickened. Then, you add in a splash of vanilla. I actually used unsweetened almond milk because it’s what I had, and I left out the vanilla because it’s what I didn’t have; the sauce was still wonderful. Check it out here.
Final step: Phew, we’ve come a long way! As you can see, I scooped out two “slices” of my pudding. I just used a spatula. Then, I topped them with the warm sauce. Again, talk about buttery, sugar, comforting goodness.
I have no idea if what I made is right, but the point is, try things out. Look at all the fun I had telling you about what was probably a massive failure! And, I kept going and I ended up with something both edible and delicious. That was a surprise! Not many things are easy. Not many things go “as written,” or even have perfect instructions, for that matter. Just look at the recipe for this pudding. But, never be afraid to try things out, do what you think is best, or fail. No matter the outcome, you’re always learning, and you’re always adding new stories to your life. What could be better than that?
From 1922: Blackberry Jam Pudding
- 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup blackberry jam
- 3 Tbs. sour cream
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Sauce recipe found here.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream together butter and sugar. Then, mix in the eggs.
- Mix in the blackberry jam and the sour cream.
- Stir in the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.
- Pour the batter into a 13×9″ baking dish.
- Bake the pudding for 25-35 minutes, or until the pudding is firm. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing or scooping. Serve warm with sauce.