No Ho-Hummery with This Flummery!

Flummery! (The edible kind)
Flummery! (The edible kind)
Photo by Joanna O'Leary

Part of my motivation for wanting to work my way through Felicity's Cookbook was the chance to make, but more important, to say, the word flummery, multiple times.

A few weeks ago, I tried my hand at making a flummery at the end of one unusually hot afternoon and quickly learned that a goofy name can belie a most delicate, refreshing dish.

Before I divulge more details of my flummery experiment, let it be known that there isn't, actually, a flummery, but many flummeries since multiple versions from colonial America, Wales, England and Ireland exist. Some are quite different from others; the flummery in Felicity's Cookbook, for example, is of a more fluid consistency and contains no dairy. The majority of recipes I found on the interwebs, however, used cream and/or milk plus gelatin and therefore required several hours to set.

While I wasn't interested in spending five hours creating overly complicated flummeries, I didn't want to stray too far from the path of authenticity. I started with this simple recipe, with aspirations of moving on to something a bit more elegant.

Other than substituting strawberry for cherry gelatin, I followed the recipe to the T, heeding the Gourmet Mama's recommendation to chill the evaporated milk and hauling out a huge metal bowl (rather than my medium-sized glass one I usually favor for mixing) in which to beat the milk. It took about seven minutes of continuous beating at high speed for "soft peaks" to form, but I waited an extra five minutes to add the gelatin mixture, which was (as per her directions) cooling in the fridge.

After four hours, the flummery was firm to the touch, so I took my chances at inverting the cake mold to release it onto a serving platter. That went not great, and now I wonder, "Was I supposed to grease the pan?" Gourmet Mama said nothing about that.

But for my first flummery, I was more concerned with taste than appearance and there was little to criticize about the moist, spongy texture and light, juicy strawberry flavor. Add a dollop of whipped cream and serve in clear dishes and you have a right fancy dessert. I think my 18th-century ancestors would be proud.


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