Inspired by our archival colleagues at Duke University Libraries’ Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen blog series (among other delicious historic cooking blogs, such as Cooking in the Archives), the Archives & Special Collections team decided to try our hand(s) at making (and eating) some of the recipes we have in our collections.
For our first recipe, I picked Misses Sadie and Minnie Scofield’s “Ice Box Pudding #1,” from The Davidson Cook Book compiled for the Davidson Civic Club circa 1928 (the same cookbook that includes a recipe for “Roasting a Husband”). The title page states that “The object of this book is to assist the good housewives to preserve, to the future generation, the many excellent and matchless recipes of the Davidson ladies.”
I’ll admit it – I wanted to try an easier recipe for this first go, which is part of the appeal of Ice Box Pudding. Another appeal was digging into the Misses Scofield, who appear to have been citizens of some note in the Davidson community of the late 1800s and early 1900s.
John N. Scofield, the grandfather of Sadie (1873-1956) and Minnie (1878-1958), came to Davidson in 1857 as the contractor for the first Chambers Building (Old Chambers). Their grandmother ran a boardinghouse in town beginning in the late 1860s; her most famous boarder was Woodrow Wilson. Minnie and Sadie’s father, Stephen Charles “Skit” Scofield ran a popular store on the corner of Main and Depot streets, which the family home was attached to. After “Mr. Skit’s” death in 1917, the Misses Scofield opened a tea-room in the storefront.
Mary Beaty’s Davidson: A History of the Town from 1835 until 1937 includes this colorful description of Minnie and Sadie Scofield: “They were wonderful cooks. Generations of students waxed fat at their tea room… In their later years they often sat in the empty store building, enjoying the unparalleled view its windows gave them of Davidson life as it passed by from any of four directions. They would rock and fan and comment on passerby (Miss Sadie sweetly, Miss Minnie venomously), and what they did not know about the town was not worth knowing. They and their home were institutions, a link with the Davidson now a century in the past.”
I’ll fully admit that I’m not a very experienced cook, but I actually thought that the Scofields’ recipe for Ice Box Pudding was easy to follow and barely took any time at all!
I wasn’t sure how much a “cake” of bakers chocolate actually is, so I estimated that it was roughly a full-sized bar but bought extra chocolate just in case – one milk and one dark chocolate (Ghirardelli). I ended up using both, and doubling the rest of the ingredients, because I wasn’t sure if I was making enough pudding to fully cover the ladyfingers. I also added a splash of milk and a half pat of butter partway through the melting process, to thin out the chocolate mixture a bit while keeping it creamy. This resulted in what is probably a thicker pudding layer than the Scofield sisters would have turned out (although I didn’t hear any complaints from my coworkers after their taste-test!). Store-bought ladyfingers (Forno Bonomi) make up the base, and I put the pudding in the freezer for 12 hours instead of the fridge for 24. While this did stray from the historical recipe a bit, hopefully it remained close enough to the spirit of the 1928 Ice Box Pudding.
Overall, our first foray into archival cooking was a success – I’m excited to try out more (and possibly more complicated) recipes in the months to come!