By Diane Cooper-Wu
Flummery. What a jolly word! It’s fun to say and delicious to eat. One bite of flummery can transport you to a different time and place.
The first time I met this funny word was in the cookbook Pride and Pudding, the History of British Puddings, Savoury and Sweet, by Regula Ysewijn. (@missfoodwise). The book is one of my best friends in the kitchen, with beautiful photos by Regula and witty illustrations by her husband Bruno Vergauwen. There are recipes from as early as the 14th century. The recipe that first caught my eye was 18th century almond flummery. I was intrigued by the name and by the low amount of sugar in the recipe. Sugar was still a luxury in 18th century Britain.
I love making almond flummery by candlelight in the early morning hours, as the household still sleeps. The kitchen is quiet and dark. The scent of rosewater, almonds, and apricot kernels rising from the mortar and pestle transform the kitchen countertop to a magic carpet that carries me off to 18th century England.
Regula has kindly given me permission to share my version of her recipe with Tidings of Magpies. I make only one change. I replace gelatine with agar agar, making this flummery suitable for vegetarians.
18th Century Almond Flummery
30g (1oz) almonds
30g (1 oz) apricot kernels*
1 teaspoon rosewater
400ml (14 fl oz) milk
400ml (14 fl oz) double cream*
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons agar agar flakes*
Moulds or pudding bowls of your choice.
Blanch and skin the almonds and apricot kernels by pouring boiling water over them to make the skins come off. When the water is cool (or rinse with cold water) peel the skins. Use a linen towel to help rub off the skins if needed.
Grind the apricot kernels and almonds with the rosewater using a mortar and pestle until you get a purée. (I grind the apricot kernels and almonds briefly in an electric coffee grinder reserved for spices, then I place them in a mortar & pestle and grind with rosewater to prevent them from popping out of the mortar.)
In a medium saucepan combine the almond purée, milk, and cream. Add the sugar and bring it to a boil. Allow it to cool to steep all the flavors.
Strain the mixture back into a clean saucepan and discard the almond pulp. Add the agar agar flakes. Bring the mixture back to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring.
Pour the warm mixture into wet moulds (do not let it chill in the saucepan or it will set). I use 1/2-3/4 cup moulds.
Flummery made with agar agar will set quickly at room temperature. The latest batch I made set in 15 minutes in a 66° F kitchen.
To unmould, wet your hand and use it to loosen the pudding. Let it slide out onto a wet plate to make it easier to move, if necessary.
*Apricot kernels can be purchased online or in health food stores.
*UK Double cream has 48% milkfat. Here in the US our cream is 32-37% milkfat. I use Organic Valley whipping cream, and it is fine.
*I use Eden Foods agar agar. If you use agar agar powder, follow the amount of powder to liquid on the package.
Diane Cooper-Wu has an interest in food history. She creates recipes for her dogs, cats, wildlife and husband. She is an artist and graphic designer who volunteered display designs for animal shelters. She studied design and fine art at Parsons School of Design in NYC.
Leave a Reply