President 10: John Tyler (April 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845)
We are back!! Last weekend I was just too full to even think about food (and that is saying something). I am surprised I didn’t develop gout, considering the epic sized portions I consumed. Well, with a week of rest, I am back up and baking. To the 10th President we go…
President John Tyler was the first President to assume office due to the death of the President elect. His opponents nicknamed his accession the “Accidency” and, truth be told, it seems like he would have been happy to stay at home in Williamsburg, Virginia and eat pudding; lots and lots of pudding. Well one would need lots of sustenance to create FIFTEEN children (eight with his first wife, seven with his second). They were like the Presidential Duggars, with a hint less hypocrisy and far better clothing.
Tyler’s first wife, Letitia, suffered a stroke, was paralyzed, and died in 1842. She had been known for her warm Virginia hospitality and dedication to her family. Following her death, something so grossly predictable happened to Ole Johnny. He fell in lust and actively pursued Julia Gardner, a 22-year-old hottie. Nicknamed the “Rose of Long Island”, she had just moved to the District and was breaking hearts and taking names. At first she resisted his advances but, following her father’s accidental death aboard a navy ship, sought comfort in President Tyler. Daddy issues much?
Julia is remembered by many historians as the most beautiful First Lady ever. She only had 8 months to make the most of the White House. The daughter of a New York State Senator, she had spent time in Europe and entertained liked a real aristocrat. With the most expensive champagne, the most beautiful floral arrangements, and dresses for a queen, President Tyler entertained her every whim. She threw a ball so over the top before her exit from Washington; she solidified her place in history.
This pie has become hugely popular. Some cookbooks call it sugar pie. It was the President’s favorite, and with all those mouths to feed, excellent bang for the buck. This is a fusion of a couple of old recipes that is easiest to put together and works the best.
Flour , to roll out pastry
Puff Pastry, 1 sheet
3 Tbsp butter
3 eggs and 1 egg yolk, well beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup coconut, lightly toasted and more for top
2 pints fresh raspberries
Powdered sugar for top (optional)
First, cream butter and sugar with a hand mixer. Then add the well-beaten eggs, along with heavy cream and grated coconut. Mix by hand. Roll out puff pastry on a well-floured surface. Place in a pie mold. Bake in a hot 450F oven for 10 minutes, until pastry sets. Add filling, then reduce the heat to 350F and cook another 25 minutes, or until pudding pie is firm. Cover pastry with tin foil if it starts to get too much color. Remove from oven and cool. Top with fresh raspberries and sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional).
We must not sign off without mentioning President Tyler’s most important culinary contribution to this country. Towards the end of term, Tyler dedicated considerable time to the annexation of Texas (which was made official during Polk’s term). Oh ya’ll … the Lone Star state has brought us culinary delights ever since. Just you wait till we get to President Franklin Pierce and his Mexican cheese dip. Pure ambrosia.