Mom’s Recipe Box: “Aunt June – The Church Hat – Gram’s Rice Pudding” & Aunt Jessie’s Burnt Sugar Cake
Posted on October 17, 2014
“Aunt June – The Church Hat – Gram’s Rice Pudding” & Aunt Jessie’s Burnt Sugar Cake
As much as my father enjoyed my mother’s cooking there were a couple of sweets that he preferred the way his mother, Gram (Bessie Reeve Bennett) made them. Just as my sisters and I prepare dishes as our mother did, my father’s sisters – Aunt June and Aunt Jessie – prepared dishes as Gram did. Mom never minded, she was close to my dad’s side of the family and happy to sing their praises. In fact, Mom and Aunt June were not only sisters-in-law, they were the best of friends.
One of my favorite Aunt June stories began with a Sunday morning call from our home in Connecticut to hers in the Boston suburbs. Uncle Dick Kaine, Aunt June’s husband, took the message from Dad saying that he, Mom, my sister Candy and I planned to drive up for a visit that day. When the call came Aunt June and Aunt Rena (Gram’s sister) were at church.
And, just as Dad was a protective brother, my aunts were doting sisters. The story goes…when Aunt June arrived home to learn Dad was on his way – about a two hour drive – she did not even remove her church hat, rather she immediately began making one of his favorites, Gram’s Rice Pudding.
I remember Gram’s Rice Pudding as made by my Aunt June, to be custard-like with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top, creamier than my mother’s ( I liked Mom’s better). My dad loved it when Aunt June baked Gram’s Rice Pudding for him, and he loved it served piping hot out of the oven. Unfortunately, Gram’s recipe appears to have gone the way of ones that were either not written down or not passed down. However, I am pleased to be able to share my sister-in-law Jane’s recipe for “Old-Fashioned Rice Pudding” which I’ve been told is similar to Gram’s in texture.
What I do have though – found in my mother’s recipe box – is a Burnt Sugar Cake recipe, another of Dad’s favorites. The origin of this recipe was not included, however, when we would visit Aunt Jessie in New Hampshire, she sometimes would bake Burnt Sugar Cake for my father – also prepared like Gram had made it. For those who have never tasted Burnt Sugar Cake, it is a ‘melt in your mouth’ experience. – Jackie
P.S. After this story was published I heard from my cousin Betty Jane – she wrote: “I can picture Aunt Rena making the burnt sugar cake at the farm in Gram’s little kitchen…on a HOT day with the wood stove crackling !!!! She would be wiping her brow but she always told me ‘You need a hot fire and a heavy pan to brown the sugar.’ That was her secret to success.” ( I love this additional Burnt Sugar Cake memory from the Bennett Family Farm in New Hampshire – thank you for sharing it!) JB
Reminiscent of Gram’s & Like Aunt June made for Dad – “Jane’s Old-Fashioned Rice Pudding”
One third cup uncooked rice; 4 cups milk – scalded; one fourth teaspoon salt; one fourth cup sugar; 2 tablespoons butter.
Combine all ingredients in a flat baking dish ( 6 and one half X 10 and one half X 1 and three fourths inches) and place in a slow oven (300 degrees F); Bake for about one and one half hours or until rice is tender and the pudding is thick and creamy;Stir about every 15 minutes or so using a fork – meticulously turning under the brown top and scraping down the edges. Serve hot or cold approximately 5 servings.
Reminiscent of Gram’s & Like Aunt Jessie made for Dad – “Burnt Sugar Cake ”
INGREDIENTS & PREPARATION
Start by carmelizing Burnt Sugar Syrup. It is made with one and one third cups sugar, and one and one third cups water – by melting the sugar on a stove top burner in a skillet until it is a golden brown tone and then continuing to heat until it reaches a dark-amber color. Remove from heat. Gradually add boiling water stirring steadily, then return the mix to the heat and boil rapidly uncovered, until slightly thickened. Set aside to completely cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease two round cake pans.
Combine the following dry ingredients – 3 cups sifted all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, one half teaspoon salt. In another bowl, combine three fourths cup of softened butter with one and one half cups sugar, creaming them. Add two eggs, the cooled burnt sugar syrup and three fourths cup of milk. Then combine all together, beating again and pour into cake pans, bake about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
For Burnt Sugar Icing – you’ll need about 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, stir in the remnants of the burnt sugar syrup scraped from in the skillet and combine with one fourth cup softened butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk slowly as needed to create desired smoothness (my mom used evaporated milk in her icing).
Although I had Burnt Sugar Cake as a child when Aunt Jessie baked it for my father, I have not personally prepared this recipe. I recall another special touch added just for him -Dad liked walnut halves atop the icing. – JB
Look for Mom’s Recipe Box weekly on Fridays as family members add to and celebrate my mother’s collection of recipes, the Cecelia G. Bennett Collection.-JB