Flummery as a dessert sounds like a bit of an old fashioned concept doesn’t it? That’s because it is. First mentioned in Gervaise Markham’s ‘Countrey Contentments’ or ‘English Huswife’ book of 1623 it was a peasant dish of oatmeal steeped in water and boiled to thicken it and served with butter. Over time, the dish evolved with additions such as ground almonds and calves foot as a setting agent, becoming a style of blancmange. By 1769, Mrs Raffald in ‘The Experienced English Housekeeper advised…
‘When you make flummery,
always observe to have it pretty thick…‘
A Dessert That Spans The Ages
Fast forward to 1981 and my first encounter with flummery. Passionfruit Flummery was a dessert our Home Economics teacher, Mrs Moller, decided was an important addition to our culinary journey. The thing about 1980’s home ec classrooms was that they were fairly scant on equipment. A couple of ovens, rolling pins, a few mixing bowls, some blunt knives and orange laminex benches were what passed for our kitchen. There were no Mixmasters or electric beaters so we used good old fashioned rotary egg beaters. They certainly did the job in thickening and adding volume but as you need to beat the mixture for at least 15 minutes, our arms were nearly dropping off. That’s why I remember my first flummery so well.
My friends at Redbelly Citrus sent a box of blood oranges so I was keen to start cooking with them. I recall that 1980’s flummery being made on evaporated milk and passionfruit which seems likely given the need for a liquid to suspend the pulp in. This blood orange version however, is dairy free, using the addition of small amount of flour to assist in thickening the juice. The longer the flummery is whipped, the frothier the mixture and the lighter the colour will become. Changing from blood red to a pale pink. The vanilla adds fragrance and hints at white chocolate. Blood oranges are at their peak at present. They have a short season in Australia so make sure you hunt some out and enjoy their sweet/savoury flavour.
Vanilla & Blood Orange Flummery
- 4 blood oranges, juiced (approx 450 mls)
- 1 cup water (250 ml)
- 1 cup sugar, white or raw (approx 230 – 250g)
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp powdered gelatine or 6 gelatine sheets (gold)
- 1 tspn vanilla bean paste or extract (or 1 vanilla bean, scraped)
- Place the flour in a bowl or cup and mix a small amount of juice with it to dissolve flour and form a slurry.
- Place the slurry, juice, water and sugar in a saucepan. If using powdered gelatine, add this in as well and whisk.
- Bring liquid to the boil and then reduce heat to simmer for a few minutes. Stir constantly. Remove liquid from heat.
- If using gelatine sheets, soak sheets in cold water for 1 minute, squeeze out excess water and add to saucepan. Stir gelatine sheets into hot liquid. Make sure the pan is removed from heat.
- Place hot liquid with gelatine into a large heatproof bowl and allow to cool slightly before placing in fridge for 1 hour.
- Remove liquid from fridge when it has started to set around the edges. Add the vanilla and beat using electric or rotary beaters for 15 – 20 minutes until mixture has thickened, is frothy and the become much paler in colour.
- Spoon into pretty glasses, dishes or one large bowl and cover.
- Return to fridge and allow to set for at least 2 hours.
- Serve with slices of blood orange and whipped cream if desired.
Serves 6 – 8