This recipe for Wine Pudding fascinates me because it has a strange mix of ingredients. Bread crumbs, wine, eggs, and sugar are somehow going to turn into a pudding. I imagine it is a baked pudding but who knows with this sort of recipe? It was contributed by Mrs. M. Riener for the 1906 Berlin Cook Book.
I began by measuring three cups of bread crumbs and 2 cups of wine (1 pint) stirring them together in a large sauce pan. I happened to have a bottle of white wine around so I used it. I’m not sure why the mixture is heated as it became a paste as soon as I stirred the two ingredients. I went ahead and turned the heat to low and kept stirring. Eventually I turned the heat a little higher but the mixture really didn’t change and I began to fear it would burn. I removed the pan from the stove and set it to cool.
The next task was separating eight eggs and then beating the butter. I added the egg yolks, butter and sugar to the mixture. I wasn’t sure how much lemon and orange extract to add. perhaps I should have added orange and lemon zest rather than flavouring. Time will tell. I beat the egg whites and then folded them into the mixture. I buttered a pudding basin (a ceramic bowl with a deep lip around the top) and poured the batter into it. I put it into the oven at 350 degrees F. for the required 45 minutes. Any guesses as to what to expect? Will it be a sloppy mess like the chocolate pudding? Will it be a soft custardy pudding or will it be a cake like pudding that slides out of the basin as one big pudding?
I think I’ve found Mrs. M. Riener although it was a challenge. Like many of the German families in this cook book they either change the spelling of their surname at some point or a census taker misspells it or perhaps there is a typographical error in the cook book. The 1901 census has a Mathers Reiner. The Waterloo Region Generations website lists a Mathias Reiner. There are no Rieners in the census in 1901. Born in 1830 Mathias is 13 years older than his wife Mary or Maria Novock or Nowak (born in 1843) making her among the older contributors to the cook book. Their birthplaces reflect European geopolitical history. Mathias was born in Hungary while Mary’s birthplace is listed as Austria. They must have met and married there as the first four of their nine children were born in Wien (Vienna) Austria. They immigrated to Canada and Waterloo County around 1874. Mathias was a tailor in Waterloo but at some point they moved to Berlin where he continued his trade. Their religion is New Jerusalem which is part of the Swedenborgian denomination. Their youngest child died when she was only a few months old. In 1901 three of their adult children are living with the couple.
I was shocked to see that Mary died just two years after this cook book was published. The oldest girl married in 1891, the second daughter in 1884 and I think the youngest living daughter must have married or moved before 1911. I don’t know what happened to the two oldest boys. I suspect Mary’s husband died sometime before 1911 as he is not listed in the census either. Two of the unmarried, children, 35-year-old Edward and 33-year-old Gisella, are sharing a home at 51 Alma Street in 1911. They were the oldest living at home back in 1901 too. Their ethnicity is listed as German and they continue in the New Jerusalem faith. Edward works as a real estate agent. Their neighbours include Hoffmans, Hymanns and Hertels who work as a druggist, dentist, nurse and tailor.
The recipe says to serve the wine pudding with chateau sauce. I’ve never heard of this sauce and the Berlin Cook Book doesn’t contain a recipe. It is at moments like this that I really miss all my historic cook books and culinary references. They’ve been packed into storage like so many of my belongings for the past five months. Instead I turned to the internet for ideas. Chateau seems to be a word added to many things. There is chateaubriand, chateau potatoes, chateau chalon sauce but they are all savory rather than sweet like this pudding. The one recipe I found called for beef stock, shallots, cabernet sauvignon and raspberry jam!! I really can not imagine that sauce with wine pudding unless the pudding is supposed to accompany meat? I’m wondering if it is some sort of wine sauce. Since the wine pudding is almost baked, I guess I will sample it plain and imagine the sauce.
I find it difficult to describe Mrs. M. Riener’s Wine Pudding. It reminds me of something but I can’t recall it. It is firm but soft. In fact I am sampling the edges as the centre was still under cooked and I put it back in the oven. Next time I’ll make it in my pudding mold so the centre bakes too. And yes there will be a next time! This is so interesting, simple and has so much potential. I’ll be careful with my choice of wine. Mine was too harsh. I’ll use orange and lemon zest instead of extracts as I’m not sure if the harshness is from just the wine or if the flavourings are too “chemical” tasting. I thought the taste of egg would dominate but I don’t notice it. I think the best description is a sort of smooth bread pudding.
I suspect this pudding was a big hit with Mr. Riener. The man was in his mid seventies and probably had dental problems. People sometimes lose a bit of the sense of taste as they age and need stronger flavours. This pudding would be “nourishing”, easy to eat and flavourful. Modern cooks can make it with a package of bread crumbs and left over wine plus all those eggs sitting in the back of the fridge. I really don’t know if it will appeal to others or be edible when it is cold but right now I’m enjoying a warm wine pudding.
Take 3 cups stale bread crumbs and 1 pint of wine, put on fire and stir continuously till it forms a smooth paste, then set away to cool, when cool, add 3/4 cup of butter well beaten, 8 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, flavor with orange and lemon, then add the whites of 8 eggs, beaten to a stiff froth and bake in a well buttered pudding dish for 3/4 hour in a moderate oven. Serve with chateau-sauce.