The American Process

The final film in this year’s 12 Days of Oscar feature is nominated for twelve Oscars.  Lincoln covers the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life focusing on his effort to passing the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery in the House of Representatives.  The film does a great job of showing Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) both as a political figure and at home with wife Mary (Sally Field) and their sons, Tad (Gulliver McGrath) and Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).  Tommy Lee Jones gives an incredible performance as Republican Congressional leader Thaddeus Stevens.  Even though history tells us how things turn out both for Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment, Lincoln is gripping and doesn’t feel like a retelling of everything you already learned in history class.  Lincoln is nominated for twelve Oscars: Best Writing- Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Music Written for Motion Pictures- Original Score, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Day-Lewis), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jones), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Field), and Best Picture.

lincoln kitchen

Looking at menus from official functions during Lincoln’s administration, one would think that Lincoln had an endless appetite for elaborate meals.  By most accounts, this is not true and Lincoln frequently nibbled at fancy dinners, leaving most of the food on his plate and instead favored the simplicity of apples and coffee.  Yet, Mary Todd Lincoln was reportedly well-schooled in cooking and would frequently make an almond cake for him while they were courting, and believed sugar to be “the most nourishing substance found in nature.”  The recipe for this movie is a recipe from a cookbook that Mary reportedly brought with her when she and Abraham moved into the White House, Miss Leslie’s Complete Cookery.  This apple bread pudding from the 1837 cookbook combines the “nourishing” power of sugar with the apples of which Abraham was so fond.  The sauce for this is thin, and as noted below it’s best served warm.  The sauce will form a skin like a cooked pudding, and to reheat it if necessary, pour it into a small sauce pan and heat over low heat, stirring, until it’s warm and thin again.  I have a hard time calling it bread pudding because there’s actually not much bread in here at all.  I’m not complaining; the end result is layered of baked apple slices reminiscent of (crustless) apple pie and once the sauce is spooned over it, the last thing you’ll wonder about is where the bread went.

lincoln apple bread pudding

Apple Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

for the bread pudding:

  • 12 small Granny Smith apples
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 C. chilled butter, cubed (plus more for greasing the dish)
  • 1 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1 C. bread crumbs (homemade are best)

for the cream sauce:

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/4 C. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. almond extract

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and core the apples and then slice them very thin (I used my apple peeler/ corer/ slicer and used 1/4 inch thick slices).

Place the apple slices in a large mixing bowl and pour the lemon juice, lemon zest and nutmeg over them.

Toss with a large spoon or spatula to evenly coat the apples with the lemon juice mixture.

Butter a 9×13 inch glass baking dish.

Make a single thick layer of apple slices on the bottom of the dish, overlapping so that the apple slices cover the entire surface of the bottom of the dish.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the brown sugar over the apples.

Dot the apples and sugar with 1/3 of the pieces of butter.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the bread crumbs over the top of the apples, sugar and butter.

Repeat layering apple slices, then brown sugar, then butter, then bread crumbs until the baking dish is full, ending with a thin layer of bread crumbs.

Bake, uncovered, for 50 to 60 minutes until the edges brown, the apples are soft, and the bread pudding is cooked through.

To make the cream sauce, pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

When the cream begins to boil, whisk in the powdered sugar, nutmeg, and almond extract.

Remove the pan from the heat and strain the sauce through a mesh strainer or sieve into a serving bowl.

Serve the sauce over warm slices of the bread pudding.

The sauce is best served immediately but if that doesn’t happen, store the sauce in an air tight container in the refrigerator and warm over low heat, stirring, when ready to serve.

Makes 16 (approximately 3″x2″ each) servings.

Source: The History Kitchen originally from Miss Leslie’s Complete Cookery

mary lincoln apple bread pudding

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