Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Boiled Custard, Tennessee Style

Surprise, surprise, time for another baking-reading project conglomeration!  I so enjoyed baking around the world last year, even if I only made it to twelve countries.  I will continue that project in 2013, but will focus more on United States of America regional cuisine.  Most of the time, I will focus on baked goods and desserts, but every so often you will see a candy, a drink, or something savory. 

My first offering of the year is boiled custard.  According to my co-worker Cris, who is married to a west-Tennessean, this is a regional southern treat.  She spent some time this past December perfecting a recipe to get it as close to what he remembered as she could.  In some states, you can buy it in the store next to the eggnog.  Paula Deen has a similar recipe called "Drinking Custard" that is really a creme anglaise, but Cris's version uses fewer eggs, making it more drinkable.  The only change I made was to add a pinch of salt, which I do to everything that doesn't tell me to.

It can be served hot or cold.  We tried it both ways, but could not really decide what we liked more.  It was delicious both ways.  The weather has been cold, so hot seemed to do the trick for me.  You could do a lot with this besides drinking it - it would make a marvelous sauce for fruit or bread pudding, just for starters.  When I was in Australia, they sold quarts (maybe half-liters, eh?) of something very similar, but I wasn't paying enough attention to remember the exact name of it.  It would be poured over fresh fruit at breakfast, to go with the blood sausage and gravy on toast.  You might understand why I took to it!

As with the Around the World challenge, these recipes will accompany a book set in the same state.  I had been reading The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War by Howard Bahr in December, along with the On the Southern Literary Trail group in GoodReads when Cris peaked my interest in boiled custard in Facebook, so I decided they were a match made in heaven.  I have a few more recipes in mind for Tennessee, so I might return there before the year is over.  Technically I read the book in 2012.  I reviewed the book quite extensively over on Reading Envy.

Since the novel is about the Battle of Franklin in the Civil War, there is no boiled custard mentioned in its pages.  They barely scrape by with hoecakes ("journey cakes"), biscuits, dried meat and dried fruit.  The soldiers are always begging for coffee and dreaming about feasts of southern food.  Custard or any dessert would have been an impossible luxury, but of course, anyone who bakes has a compulsion to sooth people with sweets.  These suffering soldiers could have really used some boiled custard!

1 comment:

Allen Lacewell said...

Was born in west Tennessee, lived in Chicago area most of my life. Have been drinking boiled custard all my life. My mother taught her two daughters-in-law how to make it. The recipe goes on. My son and I make a gallon at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas. Most people who try it for the first time love it.