An easy and excellent desert that exemplifies the early inroads that English foodways had made on les Habitants in Quebec: “By the end of the eighteenth century, this type of pudding was already well-known in Canada. It was usually made with apples, pears, plums or even cherries.” Marc Lafrance & Yvon Desloges, A taste of History: The Origins of Quebec’s Gastronomy (Quebec 1989) 101. This is the Editor’s version of their recipe, probably lifted from the the 1796 cookbook by the American Amelia Simmons. According to Lafrance and Desloges, a lot of copies found their way into Quebec and exerted a considerable influence there.
-1 lb puff pastry rolled into a rough circle about ½ inch thick (see the Notes)
-about a generous pint and a half of pitted cherries
-flour for dusting
-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (that is, softened)
-about 1/3 cup sugar, more or less to taste
- Pile the cherries onto the center of the pastry, then carefully draw it up to enclose them in a ball. Give the ends a gentle twisting crimp to seal the pudding.
- Lay the pudding onto a floured cotton or muslin cloth , draw it up in turn to enclose the pudding and tie it together with kitchen twine.
- Boil the pudding in a big pot for as little as 3 or as much as 4 hours; you will want to serve the pudding hot, and the precise timing is only important to that end, so pull it from its pot whenever you are ready for it.
- Mix together the butter and sugar. Take off the cloth, cut a hole in the top of the pudding and drop the butter and sugar onto the filling.
- Give the butter and sugar a few minutes to melt and served the pudding in wedges.
- Lafrance and Desloges give this recipe their highest level of difficulty (three goblets), presumably because puff pastry is a chore. We use the frozen product instead and do not consider ourselves dishonored. Pepperidge Farms sells a 1.1 lb package of two sheets that is ideal for this pudding. Thaw them out, stack them, and roll them out on a floured board to the half inch thickness.
- You do need to pit the cherries, but if strapped you even can avoid that. Thawed frozen cherries work fine, and the Editor confesses that she finds the canned sour cherries packed by Jasper Wyman & Son of Milbridge, Maine, too enticing to resist when either rushed or simply lazy. Use two cans for this recipe.
- The canned wild blueberries are good as well, and even though Lafrance and Desloges omit their mention, they have a long association with the cookery not only of Maine but also of Atlantic Canada, so throw them into the pudding instead if you like.
- As an aside, blueberries freeze well for cooking. Just pop the raw berries in a plastic freezer bag; no processing required. They make for good frozen snackfood too.
- To make a hot North American summer pudding rather than the exemplary cold original based on bread, combine blueberries, blackberries, cherries, raspberries and strawberries in any combination and follow this recipe.
- It is even easier to make the recipe in a pudding basin; in terms of authenticity that probably pushes the technique into the early nineteenth century. Line the basin with ¾ of the pastry, fill it with fruit, to the pudding with the remaining dough, seal it up and cover it with crimped and buttered foil to allow for expansion and prevent sticking, then boil away. It will not look as picturesque as the bag pudding but it is easier to assemble.