The 1916 Cookbook Project: More Croutons
Croutons souffle. Souffle? Really, Grandpa? I approached the third recipe in Grandpa’s cookbook with a bit of exasperation – the third, but not the last, crouton recipe. Yes, there’s one more after this one. Still, not one to give up easily I moved forward with “Croutons Souffle”.
You may remember when I started this project I mentioned that a cookbook from the early part of the 20th century is very different from today’s familiar volumes. Imagine opening up a book today and seeing a recipe written like this:
“Make a stiff dough with a glass of milk, two eggs, a little lard, and flour. Cut the dough into small rectangular pieces and bake in a moderate oven. Use on consommes and other soups.“
Yeah, that’s a detailed recipe (not). And lard. This is the first time I have lard in the house. I don’t have anything against it; my mother never used it and I always have vegetable shortening in the house. Still, Grandpa’s recipe calls for lard and I’ll use it; at least this time, anyway.
Recipe 3 Crouton Souffle
What I Did:
I mixed the eggs and milk in a small bowl. As soon as I did this I realized I was going to need a lot of flour; a lot of flour means a lot of dough. I wasn’t thinking and should have gone with one egg, 4 oz of milk, etc. Oh well, error number one. Next I put 3 cups of the flour in a large bowl and cut in lard. Gradually I mixed the liquid into the flour, adding more flour as needed to make a stiff dough (I used 4 cups this particular day). Working the dough I suddenly understood why Ma said her father’s hands were like ham hocks; large, muscular, and very strong – no Hobart mixer when he made doughs!
To me “moderate oven” is 350F so I baked in a preheated 350F oven for about 40 minutes. Surprisingly these puffed up a bit giving them more of a pillow like shape. They stayed pale; only the bottom browned; nice and golden I might add, the way Recipe 2 was supposed to turn out. They were tasty, if a bit bland, and had a lovely texture.
I took some of the dough, rolled it out thinner, and used a smallish round cookie cutter to cut it up. I pierced it with a few times and baked in the 350F oven. Cocktail crackers! Since the dough is so bland I should have added a topping (poppy seeds, sea salt, sesame seeds, crushed dried garlic, or similar). Adding herbs and spices to the dough to make flavored croutons and crackers should work well, too.
Playing around I tried baking a few with salt and no piercings; they puffed up! Of course, if I had been thinking, I would have realized this would happen. The croutons puffed up, right? Now I understand why crackers always have perforations in them – to keep them flat. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the puffs (thought I did, but I don’t) but you should definitely try making them. Puffed up they reminded me of a crisp pocket pita. Flavor the dough and you would definitely have a tasty snack (I didn’t say “healthy”; I said “tasty”). Perforated or puffed, this is an easy to make recipe that’s a nice accompaniment with cheese and cocktails.
Try it out and let me know how you modified the recipe and what you think.
Would I make this again? Absolutely. Why would I make crackers when there are so many excellent ones on the market? Simple – to say I followed Grandpa’s recipe. So my cousins and I can actually taste something he might have made for us. We grew up hearing all the stories but never had the opportunity to actually experience his cooking (he died long before any of us were born).
Do I think I made something reasonably close to what he meant? Definitely.
Only 1,497 recipes to go.
I’m an idiot.