What I Liked
Orange fool is an orange custard. It uses fresh orange juice and interesting spices. The hope is to get a creamy and smooth custard that is full of that bright citrus flavor. I loved the simplicity of this recipe. I happened to have a bit of a cold when I made it. That punch of orange oil you smell when you slice into an orange woke up my senses. It was a familiar and fragrant smell that got me excited for the custard at the end.
Equipment Worth Using
Original Orange Fool Recipe
Take the juice of three Seville oranges and three eggs well beat, half a pint of cream, two ounces of sugar, a little cinnamon and nutmeg ; mix all well together, and keep it stirring over a slow fire till it is thick, then put in a little piece of butter, and keep it stirring till it is cold.
Juice of 3 oranges
zest of 1 orange
3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup cream
2 oz. sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Place over medium low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. As soon as the mixture starts to thicken, remove the wooden spoon and run your finger over it. If it leaves a trail through the mixture on the spoon, then the custard is done. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove any egg that may not have combined properly. This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will ensure the smoothest possible custard. Add butter and stir off heat while the custard cools. It will thicken more as it continues to cool.
What I Learned
Custards have become the bain of my existence. The past few recipes I have done have been a custard in one form or another. Making a proper custard is a labor of love and patience. There is a process, and it can’t be rushed. If you want to ruin this recipe, try and speed it up. I cooked this orange fool recipe over medium high heat and the custard curdled. There are fixes for that, but the easiest fix is to not cook it on too high of heat initially. If you custard does curdle, then straining it can help rescue the mix.
The original orange fool recipe called for nutmeg which I added. People in the 1700s and 1800s love nutmeg and mace in their dishes. Nutmeg was a very assertive spice that didn’t jive with my modern palate. Instead I dropped it and added vanilla in the updated version. I also felt the orange flavor was lacking in the original recipe. I remedied this by adding orange zest. That will give a punch of orange flavor that we all want.
Overall, this is a recipe I’ll definitely do again. As I seek out these recipes, I’m always amazed at the various techniques prescribed. The cooks in the 1700s and 1800s had equipment that was more finicky and less reliable than anything we have today. The fact that anyone could do a proper custard, given the conditions, amazes me.
The New Practice; Cookery, Pastry, Baking, and Preserving: Being the Country Housewife’s Best Friend. By Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Donat. Present and Late Housekeepers and Cooks 1804