White pot is a sweet, buttery, bready, custard type bread pudding originating from 18th century Devon in southwest England. The term white pot simply means white pudding. Recipes for white pot changed very little over the years and between regions. They primarily consist of bread, sometimes rice, sugar, eggs, usually cream, some spice, and sometimes a little bit of fruit.
- 1 pint Cream
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- Pinch of Salt
- Fresh Nutmeg
- 2 whole Eggs plus 1 Egg Yolk
- 4-5 tbsps. Sugar
- Loaf of White Bread
- ½ cup butter
- Plenty of Raisins and Dates
- Fresh Cream or Sac (optional)
The first thing we need to do is preheat our oven. If you’re going to use a Dutch oven you need to get an ember bed ready for that. If you’re using a wood fired oven, that needs to be fired up, but you’ll need to let it cool down a little bit to get to the right temperature. If you’re using a regular home oven, you need to preheat it to 350 degrees.
We’re using our everted saucepan today, but you could use a pipkin, a boiler. or whatever you have available. Begin by placing a pint of cream in the saucepan, followed by a stick of cinnamon, a pinch of salt, a little bit of mace, and some fresh ground nutmeg. As soon as this begins to simmer, you’re going to need to remove it from the heat to let it cool.
Now let’s take care of our eggs. We need two whole eggs one egg yolk, along with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, and whisk this all together.
Next we are going to take some nice white bread slice it very, very thin as well as removing the crust so you’re left with nothing but the crumb. You’ll need enough crumb to fill your baking pan or tin. In this case we are using one of our tin eating bowls, but you could also use something bigger, like one of our milk pans, but you would then need about twice the amount of ingredients and to increase the baking time. Butter each of these slices liberally on one side. You will end up using about a half a cup of butter or one full stick. While the butter is out, go ahead and butter your pan or tin as well. Make sure that this is buttered liberally as well or the sugar in the white pot will make it very difficult to release later.
Once the cream has cooled a bit, you can remove the cinnamon stick, then add just a little bit of the warm cream mixture into the eggs while whisking it just a little, to temper the eggs, so the eggs don’t curdle. Once we’ve got a little bit completely whisked in, we can start adding the rest of the cream little by little.
Now we can start layering our pudding. We’re going to start by putting in a layer of bread on the bottom of our bowl butter side down to completely cover up the bottom of the bowl. Next, let’s put a layer of raisins and dates in on top of that. Then another layer of the bread, butter side down, making sure that there are no air gaps. If you need to tear your bread up a little bit to fill in the gaps do that. The next layer is the raisins and dates again.
Once we have our second layer in the pan, we can start to add some of the custard mixture. Pour in just enough that it soaks into the two bottom layers but doesn’t come up above the top of the bread. Once that is done, continue layering your pudding until the dish is filled up. Finally, pour in the rest of the custard mixture until it fills up the rest of the tin and soaks completely into the bread. Place the final pieces of bread butter side up to fill up the top and tamp them down a little so they soak up the custard from underneath. Sprinkle about 1-2 tablespoons of sugar on top and it’s ready to bake.
Check on your choice of oven to make sure that it has preheated to the correct temperature. If you are using a Dutch oven, set up a ring of coals to set it on and place a trivet inside to set the white pot on. Once the lid is added, place coals around the top of the lid as well. You will need to keep watching the Dutch oven to make sure the coals stay hot enough and renew the coals on the top and bottom as they cool. This will take about 35 minutes but it is a good idea to watch as it will burn quickly.
Allow to cool for a few minutes and then turn out onto a plate. For added enjoyment, you can sprinkle some sugar on top and brown it using a heated salamander, kitchen torch, or broiler, just be careful not to burn it. A nice finishing touch would be some fresh cream poured on top. Sac, which is what we call sweet cherry, was also very common in 18th century recipes.
Transcript of Video:
Foods of the 18th century were often very regional. Take for instance, this little dish, its sweet, it’s buttery, it’s custardy, and it’s bready. It’s a bready little dessert. It’s also got raisins and dates in it. In many places, this might be called a bread pudding, but this regional variation is famously known as white pot.
We found a number of white pot recipes, some as early as the 16th century and others right on into the 18th century. The term white pot is a provincial phrase originating from southwest England, specifically the Devon area and it simply means white pudding.
Recipes for white pot change very little over the years. They primarily consist of bread, sometimes rice, sugar, eggs, usually cream, some spice, and sometimes a little bit of fruit. Let’s get started. The first thing we need to do is preheat our oven. We’re going to be using the Dutch oven today. If you’re going to use a Dutch oven you need to get an ember bed ready for that. If you’re using a wood fired oven, that needs to be fired up, but you’ll need to let it cool down a little bit to get to the right temperature, and if you’re using a regular home oven, you need to preheat it to 350 degrees.
We’re using our everted saucepan today. You could use a pipkin or a boiler or whatever you have available. We’re going to begin by placing a pint of cream in our saucepan. Now let’s place a stick of cinnamon in that, a pinch of salt here, a little bit of mace, and now let’s grind some fresh nutmeg.
As soon as this begins to simmer, you’re going to need to remove it from the heat and let it cool down. Now let’s take care of our eggs. We need two whole eggs in this and we need one egg yolk, and now we need two to three tablespoons of sugar. Now all we have to do is whisk this together.
Now that our cream is simmering, let’s go ahead and take it off and let it cool down. I’m going to take some nice white bread now and I’m going to slice it very, very thin and then take off the crust so I’m left with nothing but the crumb. We’ll need enough crumb to fill up our baking. In this case I’m using one of our tin eating bowls. You could also, if you wanted a larger one, use one of these milk pans, but you definitely need about twice the amount of ingredients and you need to increase the baking time.
Each one of these slices, I’m going to butter quite liberally on one side. I’m going to end up using about a half a cup of butter, one stick. While we’ve got our butter out, it’s time to butter our pan. The bowl needs to be buttered liberally or the sugar that’s in our white pot will make it very difficult to release.
And now our cream has cooled a bit, we can take out the cinnamon stick and now we’re going to add just a little bit of the warm cream mixture into the eggs while we whisk it just a little bit first to temper the eggs so that the eggs don’t curdle. Once we’ve got a little bit in, we’ve got that totally whisked in; we can start adding the rest little by little.
Now let’s get started with our layering. We’re going to start by putting in bread on the bottom of our bowl. We want to put the butter side down. We’re going to put in two pieces here and we’ll cover up the bottom of the bowl and now let’s put a layer of raisins and dates in on top of that. That’s good. We’re going to do another layer, butter side down of the bread. So we want to make sure that there are no air gaps so if you need to tear your bread up a little bit to fill in the gaps do that. Our raisins and dates again. Once we’ve got our second layer here, we can start to add some of our custard mixture. We’re going to just pour in enough that it soaks into these two bottom layers but doesn’t come up above the top of that bread.
So that looks pretty good. Let’s just do another layer.
Our dish is filled up. Let’s put our custard mixture in until it fills it right up and soaks in. That looks good. I think we’ll be able to use just about all of it. That looks good. Now we’re going to take our final pieces of buttered bread and we’re just going to fill up the top. We’re going to put this in butter side up instead of butter side down and fill that top.
Oh yeah, there we go. We’re going to tamp that down just a little bit so that it soaks up from the bottom and now we’re going to add some sugar to the top of it. We probably got another tablespoon here or so. Now that’s ready to bake.
Now it’s time to bake this guy. We’re going to be using this Dutch oven. I’ve got it already preheated some, and we’re going to set it on a ring of coals that we’ve got already set up here. Now let’s place our trivet inside and then we can add our pudding, our white pot in, right up on top, and we can set our lid on. I’m going to put some coals up on top. Again, usually we just need a ring of coals that go around the outside edge here.
Okay, we’ve got our ring of coals up on top so I’m going to keep watching this and at times I’ll have to renew the coals up on top and maybe even tuck a few more in the bottom.
While white pots originated from the Devon area, they were certainly well known to colonial cooks as well. While they might not have kept the same name, they kept the same construction. Bread puddings are becoming popular again today and some chefs have even discovered this interesting variation.
It’s starting to smell really good and it’s only been about 35 minutes. Let’s take a quick look at this. As you can see this is already well on its way, so we’re going to take this out. This is done.
We’re going to let this cool and then turn it out onto a plate.
If you happen to have a salamander, you can heat it up very hot, then sprinkle some sugar on top of your white pot and brown it. You can also do that with a kitchen torch or with a broiler. Just be careful not to burn your white pot.
A nice finishing touch would be some fresh cream poured on top or maybe a little sac which is what we call sweet cherry, was very common in 18th century recipes.
Wow, that is excellent. Its buttery, the sweetness of the sweetmeats and the custard really sets it off. It’s delicious. You’re going to love this.
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Did you mean sweet “sherry” for SAC? the transcript writes it as ‘cherry’