Steamed and Boiled Breads
dumplings: A biscuit-sized chunk of bread cooked as it floats on top of boiling soup or stew is a "dumpling." A dumpling bread shouldn't have very much shortening in it, or it will come apart in the water. You want to make a dough that's firm enough to hold together on the water but not floury, which could cause your stew to burn on the bottom. Wait to drop in dumplings until your stew is boiling hard. The pot should be about two-thirds full. If you sprinkle a little flour on the dumplings before dropping them in, that will be enough to make you a nice thick gravy if you stir them a moment in there. Figure on cooking them about 20 minutes. The dumplings are done when they don't taste doughy or floury any more.
<§> FRANCIS WARD'S OLD-TIME BOILED DUMPLINGS Sent to me by Brian Pruiett, Basin, WY: "Mix some flour, a little grease, salt and pot liquid to make a soft dough, just stiff enough not to stick to hands while rolling. Roll into marble-sized balls between palms and drop into boiling soup or stew."
<§> BAKED EGG DUMPLINGS Combine I c. whole wheat flour, a pinch salt and 3 t baking powder. Then add Ai c. milk and 2 beaten eggs. Mix well. Drop the dumpling dough by teaspoon fuls on top of the meat and gravy. Bake at 450 °F until the dumplings are done.
& BOILED DUMPLINGS Cut 3 T. shortening into 4 c. flour that has been sifted with 4 t baking powder. Add water and milk alternately to moisten, about a cup of each, until your dough is moist but firm. Knead, roll out in flour, cut into I x I 'A-inch sections, and cook
Steamed Breads (Puddings): To the pioneers, "pudding" meant a hot, moist, spiced, and sweetened bread that was steamed or boiled in a bag. These were usually soda-leavened breads, so before starting to mix the pudding, you should have your ingredients ready, your pans greased (or your bag floured), and the water boiling in the pan, because you want to get the bread on the heat as soon as possible after mixing. In Great-Grandmother's day, she had a regular "steamer" to make it in, and they are again becoming available at hardware and kitchen stores.
The typical steel steamed pudding mold comes in many shapes, but basically they are bucket-shaped, plain or fluted on the sides, and often have a central tube like an angel food cake pan to help get the pudding cooked through. With glazed earthenware steamer pans, you put a cloth over the top, secured with a string tied around the outside edge. To use such a mold, grease and fill one-half to two-thirds full. If your recipe says to "steam" it but you don't have a steamer, don't despair. They're nice but not necessary. There are ways to make an adequate homemade substitute.
The "Inside" Pan of a Homemade Steamer. Pour your pudding into a well-greased (use butter) 2-qt. mold, bowl, basin, or casserole; or two lib. coffee cans; or as many greased 1-pint cans (16-oz. size), or cans a little bigger, as you need. Be sure to use cans that are smooth, not ridged, on the inside. Fill the cans only about halffull to allow for expansion during steaming. Pour your pudding in. Cover with lids, cloth tied on with string, or aluminum foil; or leave uncovered. I leave them uncovered and haven't had soggy bread yet! The "Outside" Steamer Pan. For your steamer pan, choose one that has a lid and is big enough to hold the pudding pans with room to spare. On the bottom of that pan, set a smaller pan, such as a baking pan, upside down. Or use crumpled foil, a rack, canning-jar lids, or whatever you can devise to keep the bread cans from sitting directly on the bottom of the steamer pan. Set your container(s) of bread batter in on top of that. Pour water to almost halfway around the cans; you want steam, not water, on top of the pudding. Put on the steamer cover and boil the water slowly until the time is up. Add to the water as it runs dry. Don't open the steamer and let cold air in on the pudding, except when necessary to replenish the water or near the end to see if it's done.
Steaming in a Pressure Cooker. Place a filled 1-qt mold on a rack in the bottom of a 4-qt. pressure cooker (for a larger mold, you need a larger pressure cooker). Add 3 c. water. Steam 20 minutes without pressure. Close vent. Steam 30 minutes at 10 lb. of pressure. This is equivalent to about 4 hours of steaming.
Steamed in a "Pudding Bag." In this old-time system, the bread was cooked in a bag over boiling water in a colander or perforated steamer with the lid on. Cooking the Pudding: Steam until the pudding springs back when touched lightly in the center. When your pudding is done cooking, lift the can or mold out of the kettle and remove its cover, if any Cool. Loosen the pudding around the edges with a knife and remove. To serve, offer the pudding hot, cut into slices, and with a sauce. To reheat in the mold, cover and steam 30 minutes or, if there is no mold, wrap in aluminum foil to reheat.
HELEN'S CARROT PUDDING Sift together I c. flour, I t soda, Ai t. cinnamon, A21. allspice, t. cloves, and A41. salt Grate until you have I c. grated raw potato (no peel!) and I c. grated raw carrot (no peel). Combine grated vegetables and dry ingredients. Now add A2 c. melted shortening, I c. sugar, I c. raisins, and (optional) A2 c. chopped nuts. Mix well. Put in a greased pan and steam 3A2 hours. Serve with a sauce from the "Pudding Sauces" section! Boston Brown Breads: Traditionally, these all originated as steamed puddings (or even boiled-in-a-bag puddings).
WHOLE WHEAT PUDDING This is either a very tender, nice Boston Brown Bread or a firm pudding to be served with a sauce, as you choose. Take 2 c. whole wheat flour, A t soda, and A21 salt and mix together well. Stir in I c. milk and A2 c. molasses. Then add I c. chopped dates. Mix and pour into 3 buttered pint cans. Steam 2A2 hours. Optional: Substitute for those chopped dates I c. ripe strawberries or blackberries (or any berries you like), raisins, chopped dried figs, or chopped apple. Nice served with whipped cream.
<i> PLAIN BOSTON BROWN BREAD Beat I egg slightly. Combine it with A2 c. sugar and A2 c. molasses. Add I t salt and A t. soda to I c. sour milk (or I c. sweet milk with I T. vinegar added; let it set a bit before using). Combine with egg mixture. Mix in 23At c. whole wheat flour. Butter 3 pint cans and divide the batter among them. Steam I hour. Then bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 25 minutes. The neighbor children love this hot from the oven, sliced and buttered.
MRS. ESSEMEN'S BOSTON BROWN BREAD Sift together I c. cornmeal, I c. rye meal, I c. whole wheat flour, and A21. salt Add At c. molasses, I c. sour milk and A21. soda. Optional: A2 c. raisins. Mix and pour into washed and scalded vegetable cans. For me, this recipe makes four 13-oz. cans. Be sure to grease the cans well before putting your bread dough in. Steam for 3 hours.
(§> VEGAN BOSTON BROWN BREAD Use above recipe, but omit sour milk and soda. Instead use 3At c. to I c. water and 2 t baking powder.
pudding Sauces: The puddings above really need a sauce over them when served.
c§> HELEN'S HARD SAUCE In a pan combine A c. sugar, I T. cornstarch, pinch salt pinch nutmeg, and I c. boiling water. Cook until thickened. Then add 2 T. butter and IA2 T. lemon juice (juice of half a lemon). The pudding and sauce are good hot or cold. You can keep the sauce in a jar in the refrigerator and use as needed. Good on any of these boiled or steamed puddings.
<i> BRANDY SAUCE Combine I well-beaten egg, A c. butter, and I c. sugar. Add 2 T. boiling water. Put your mixture into the top of a double boiler and stir until the sauce boils. To prevent it from sugaring, keep it covered when you can't stir it and when stirring, keep the sides stirred down into the mixture to prevent crystals from forming there. Then add I Vi t brandy (or more). This is just right for fancy fruitcake-type puddings and whole wheat pudding. To warm up, add rich cream and mix well.
HARD SAUCE Cream 3 T. butter with A c. powdered sugar and a dash of salt. Stir in I t grated lemon peel and I t lemon juice. Add 3At c. more powdered sugar alternately with I T cream. Beat sauce until fluffy. Good on fruit puddings.
^ LEMON SAUCE Good on molasses puddings. Combine A c. sugar, I T. cornstarch, a dash salt and I c. water over heat stirring constantly until thickening takes place and sauce boils for I minute. Stir in I t grated lemon peel, the juice of Vi lemon, and I T. butter.
ORANGE SAUCE Good on carrot pudding. Mix A c. sugar, IA T. cornstarch, A t. salt I c. orange juice, A c. water, A t. grated lemon peel, and I t. lemon juice in a pan. Heat stirring constantly, until thickening takes place and sauce boils I minute. Serve hot
FLAMING PUDDING To add a festive touch to any pudding, soak sugar cubes in brandy or rum for about 5 minutes. Place the soaked sugar cubes around the plate in which the pudding has been placed. Light the sugar cubes and serve them flaming to your Christmas guests, or just to your family to brighten up a regular dinner. This will really make the children's eyes light up! The flame doesn't last very long, and it is easily blown out if you wish to do so. BoiLED-in-a-BAG Pudding: When it says in your old-time recipe book, "Boil the pudding 3 hours and a half' or "boil the bread 3 hours and then bake it 10 minutes," it probably means to boil in a pudding bag. Boiling in a bag was standard in colonial times, when one big kettle per household was about it for pans. That big iron pot hung or set in the fireplace. The menu most days was stew. To make a side dish of pudding or bread (depending on how firm it turned out), the batter was tied up in a special boiling cloth and hung over the edge of the pot to boil inside it, in with the stew. They even made custards this way: "batter puddings." Such a custard comes out too broken up for modern tastes. But the breads are good. So set a big pot of water on to boil and make a bit of history for dinner! (If you want to follow this recipe but not bother with the bag, substitute a steamer mold. Or set an ovenproof bowl in a kettle of water with the top of the water not over the bowl.) Preparing the Pudding Bag. The pudding bag was and is a cloth bag in which to pour a pudding or bread batter. Use only undyed white cotton, such as a diaper. Dip your pudding bag into very hot water. Shake off the excess water or wring it out. Rub with flour all over what will be the inside of the bag to get flour in all the spaces in the weave. Take some boiling water and slop it around on the flour until you have a kind of paste all over.
Filling and Tying the Bag. Now pour your pudding into the middle of the cloth that will become a bag. Don't fill it over half full. Pull up the cloth all around the sides. Tie it tightly shut with string or wire, leaving room for the pudding to swell!
Pudding in the Pot. Have your water boiling in a deep pot. All boiled puddings must be put quickly into hard boiling water. Put a small plate or saucer under the pudding bag if there is a possibility of it sticking to the bottom of the pan. The water mustn't stop boiling all the time the bread is in there, and the pudding must always be covered with water. You might need to weight it down with a plate on top. Boil 40 minutes or whatever it takes.
Serving a Boiled Pudding. If you want to serve the pudding hot, then as soon as it comes out of the boiling water, dip the bag into a pan of cold water before peeling off the cloth. A boiled pudding is best when sent directly from the pot to the table and served hot. To serve, slice off a portion and serve in a cereal bowl with rich cream or a pudding sauce poured over it. Boiled-in-a-Bag Pudding Recipes
<i> GENUINE PIONEER PUDDING Combine I c. molasses, I c. water, I t soda, and I t. salt Thicken with flour enough to make a batter about the consistency of cupcake batter. Pour into pudding bag and boil until done. Serve with meat gravy or sauce poured over it
W> A MODERN VERSION OF AN ANCIENT MEAT-PIE PUDDING Grate some suet (beef fat). Rub it into flour and add enough water to make a dough. Line the inside of a heatproof bowl with this. (Or substitute a modern piecrust dough!) Put a mixture of cooked meat and chopped onions into the middle. Place a layer of dough over the top of the meat mix and seal tightly all around the edges where it meets the side layer of dough. Wrap bowl and all in a pudding cloth. Lower into a big pan of boiling water and cook until done.
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