Today’s recipe for Cheese Pudding (p. 123) comes from the Cheese section of the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. It was submitted by someone using the initials L. H. J. Unfortunately, L. H. J. must remain anonymous as I have no idea where to start with so little information.
There were many small factories producing cheese in Ontario in 1906 so it was readily available. A lot of Ontario cheese was also exported to Great Britain and even the United States. Poet James McIntyre died in 1906 but was best known for his poem called Ode on the Mammoth Cheese written about a huge cheese produced in Ingersoll Ontario in 1866. This 7,000 pound cheese toured the United States and England for several years increasing the popularity of Canadian and especially Ontario cheese. There are a number of cheese museums in Ontario and many small cheese factories which I hope to visit some day.
I began making the recipe by greasing a casserole dish since I was concerned about burnt cheese sticking to it. I would skip this step next time as the cheese produced enough oil to keep everything from sticking. Someone making cheese pudding in 1906 would likely be using white bakers bread but I just had some multi grain bread. I toasted four slices and grated some medium yellow cheddar cheese from Ontario. In the end I used about 2 cups of cheese. I put a piece of toast in the bottom of the pan and then some cheese and the salt and red pepper. I would skip the salt next time as the cheese had enough salt in it. The red pepper however was a key flavour in the final product. I assumed the writer meant to add the salt and red pepper for each layer. I heated 1/2 pint (1 cup) of milk and poured it over. I let it sit for a few minutes to soak up the milk and allow the oven time to heat up. I baked it for the suggested 20 minutes at 375 degrees F.
I had no idea what to expect with this recipe, particularly after yesterday’s disappointing pudding. All I could say as I pulled my cheese pudding from the oven was WOW! It looked good with the nicely toasted cheese top and it smelled good too. I cut it into four portions and my taster and I took our first bites. I think the first words out of our mouths were YUM. This is the perfect dish for any cheese lover. We both felt the multi grain bread added another dimension to the cheese pudding that might be missing with plain white bread.
A modern cook might want to experiment with the type of bread used in the cheese pudding. Otherwise, this 1906 recipe is ready to be used in 2012 especially when cheese is on sale or needs to be used quickly. My big question is about portion size as there is a lot of cheese in this pudding. I think it might go nicely as part of a soup, salad and sandwich lunch for four to six people with cheese pudding replacing the sandwich.
Toast 4 slices of bread a nice brown, place 1 in baking dish and cover with layer of grated cheese, dust with salt and red pepper.Cover with another slice of bread and cheese, until 4 slices are used. Baste over with 1/2 pint hot milk, and bake 20 minutes in quick oven.