It’s fun to occasionally browse through random old cookbooks looking for something new to make, and I admit the decision process is often a bit erratic. This sounds good, but I don’t have all the ingredients; I have everything for this, but it doesn’t look particularly good, or the instructions seem questionable, or the recipe looks incomplete, or the name is stupid… you know how it goes.
This week, I made Mountain Dew Pudding, pretty much just because of the name. (What, me, linkbait?)
It is, I dare say, not quite what you’re probably thinking of…
Mountain Dew Pudding is a 19c pudding (or perhaps custard, if you want to be particularly technical) that shows up in various cookbooks from about 1877 onwards. (There are references to puddings made with “mountain dew” or “mountain-dew” back to the 1840s, but it helps to realize that the name was a euphemism for whiskey, back then.) So, yeah, another Victorian recipe, here.
Despite the flashy name and modern-day associations, this is a pretty basic recipe. I followed the recipe as printed in a 1909 cookbook, because that was the first one I stumbled across, but it doesn’t differ materially from most of the earlier ones.
Here then is how you make Mountain Dew Pudding, should you be so inclined:
Take twelve soda crackers (“Saltines”, etc) and roll or otherwise crush them into a fine powder. In a mixing bowl, add to these the yolks of two eggs, a pint of milk, and about a quarter-cup of sugar. Mix well to dissolve the sugar and incorporate the egg, and you’ll wind up with a not-very-appetizing-looking gloop something like this:
Don’t worry, it gets better. Pour that mixture into a greased oven-safe dish:
…and bake at 350F for thirty minutes; the custard should be starting to set up and turning slightly brown on top.
Now, while that cools somewhat, beat the whites of the two eggs (you did save them, yes?) to vaguely stuff peaks. Because I’m a masochist and don’t own an electric mixer, I did it the period-correct way, but feel free to cheat, should you so desire.
To the beaten egg whites add a half-cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, and the juice of half a lemon. Beat that all together, and pour your, um, meringue, I suppose, over the top of the pudding.
Put the whole thing back in the over until the meringue takes on a delicate golden-brown color, which in my case took exactly as long as it took me to do the dishes, probably around 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and admire.
Let cool, place in the refrigerator to chill, serve, and enjoy.
The reality is that, despite the modern-day novelty of the name, this is a pretty run-of-the-mill 19C pudding recipe. The meringue bit tastes pleasingly of lemon, and the rest of it tastes of, well… pudding. Or custard, I suppose. Other variations definitely worth trying from different versions of the recipe include flavoring the custard with lemon juice or adding a half-cup of shredded dried coconut. (But probably not both, though you never know…)
There you have it, anyway; a cheap and easy dessert perfect for your next period dinner or party, and/or something whose name is great to troll folks with.
For reference, here’s the recipe I used, from the 1909 edition of “Snap Shots at Cookery”, published by the Church of the Ascension in Buffalo:
The discerning reader will note the recipe calls for three crackers, and I used twelve. The reason for this is that the little table crackers we all know and love used to come in a larger, two-by-two format, back in the day; 3×4=12.
Here, for those interested, is the oldest copy of the recipe I could find, from an 1877 Portland cookbook possibly titled “Fish, Flesh, and Fowl”:
(Obligatory note, for the youth of today: You could probably make instant pudding with actual Mountain Dew, substituted directly for milk in the package instructions; if you manage to find Mt. Dew in a 16-ounce glass bottle, you’ve even got the exact amount needed, no measuring required. (Coincidence? Probably.) It’ll probably taste somewhat vile, but, hey, don’t let that stop you…)
So, yeah. Mountain Dew Pudding. Now you know, et cetera.