Rhubarb Pudding (1887) ★★

In North America, rhubarb is a sign of spring. I was a little late this year, but I always anticipate being able to buy it from the grocery store (one day I will have my own plant!). In America, rhubarb was so often used as a pie filling that it actually became known as "pie plant." This recipe is not for a pie, but it represents the use of rhubarb as a popular food and ingredient in desserts.

Original Recipe:
Chop rhubarb pretty fine, put in a pudding dish and sprinkle sugar over it; make a batter of one cupful of sour milk, two eggs, a piece of butter the size of an egg, half a teaspoonful of soda and enough flour to make batter about as thick as for cake. Spread it over the rhubarb and bake till done. Turn out on a platter upside down, so that the rhubarb will be on top. Serve with sugar and cream.

The Verdict:
Unfortunately this pudding wasn't very good. The cake was so bland and flavourless and it didn't even have sugar, so it didn't even taste sweet. The juices from the rhubarb also made the top a bit soggy. That said, with some modifications, this could be a good dessert. The cake needs sugar directly in it and perhaps some flavouring with a little vanilla or some spices. Lightly coating the rhubarb in some cornstarch might also help with the soggy top issue.

Modernized Recipe:
(Adapted from The Whitehouse Cookbook)

RHUBARB, chopped fine
1/4 cup BUTTER, softened
1/2 teaspoon BAKING SODA

1. Mix together the rhubarb, a bit of cornstarch, and sugar to taste. Arrange in the bottom of a greased pan. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs. Add the butter. Add the baking soda and enough flour to make a cake-like batter (I used about 4 handfuls). Add vanilla or spices as desired. Whisk until well-combined and pour over the rhubarb.
3. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan and then invert onto a plate. Serve topped with sugar and cream.

Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.