A food blogger’s life isn’t all just using my brand to justify takeout choices and reading the snooziest descriptions of the history of the spice trade; sometimes, I like to get with the people. Learn what they know, what they eat, what they think of the third season of Peaky Blinders’ depiction of Russian aristocracy after the Russian revolution. Is the show trying to impart sympathy for the communists after two seasons of running down leftist movements in post-WW1 Britain? This is what I want the people to tell me.
This saltine puff pastry recipe was sent to me by my friend @lou_reid, a mother’s recipe and reliable comfort food. Seeing the recipe and photos has, I think the word I’m looking for is like, re-inspired?, in the sense that I’d originally started Fry Havoc specifically to be a resource for this kind of food, but sometimes I lose sight of the building blocks when dreaming of castles, and seeing this got me to say “oh yeah, this is why I gave up punching up AP dispatches and pretending I gave a fuck whether or not Jennifer Aniston wore makeup in her latest film”.
I’ve always thought of saltines as a lengthener, something to break up into sub-par soup. The flaky, delicate texture they give this dessert fucking floors me the way that someone is floored by seeing a Roy Lichtenstein painting up close and realizing that the tacky IKEA kitsch their friends judge them for was once considered the cutting edge of America’s progression into an aesthetic powerhouse.
I’m including the recipe as is, without exact proportions, because the size depends on the casserole dish you have available. I’ve put the original instructions in bold like this, and my add-ons and commentary in regular text.
vanilla instant pudding
canned pie filling of your choice (I prefer raspberry)
You can use Cool Whip—I’m making the dessert vegan, and using the coconut whipped cream recipe from Minimalist Baker.
1. Prepare the instant pudding according to the directions on the box (this is easily made vegan if you use nondairy milk with Jello brand instant pudding mix).
You can avoid the typical runniness of trying to make Jello pudding with soy or almond milk by reducing the amount of milk added to the mix (instead of the recommended two cups of full fat milk); runny pudding isn’t the worst thing for a recipe like this, wherein seeping and absorption replace actual baking. Still: something to consider if maybe your available casserole dish is considerably larger or smaller than the one used in this recipe and you don’t want to run out of pudding or have some leftover.
2. Place a layer of saltines in a casserole dish.
Saltines, also known as soda crackers, are the result of adding yeast and baking soda to hardtack, a form of biscuit ration fed to soldier and sailor alike—the ripples of militarism cast flecks of foam on even the loneliest cup of Wendy’s chili in Duluth.
3. Spread a layer of instant pudding over the saltines.
Mixing what to most of us is a poor person’s pinch hitter for soup croutons with a thick confectionery tingles the dogmatic parts of your food brain that gives dipping french fries in a milkshake the gratification of innocuous deviance.
The division of “sweets” and “savouries” is a binary of artifice. Employ a healthy distrust to anyone who speaks in absolutes.
4. Gently spread the whipped topping over the pudding.
If you’re particular about wanting to limit amount of co-mingling your ingredients will do, I recommend cutting out the corner of a ziploc bag, laying down a little drizzle or serpentine of pudding or whipped cream, and then smoothing it over with a spatula. If the ease and regimented chaos of a dish like this generates strain for your order-seeking mind, a little extra set-up here and there allows you to accomplish the task without stringing you out on meticulous delicacy.
Basically, don’t play yourself.
5. Repeat the saltines, pudding, and whipped topping layers until they’ve almost reached the top of the dish (mine was 3 layers of each).
It occurs to me that the construction of this dessert, with its tranches within tranches, would be useful in explaining securities to the lay person, but this would have the detriment of implanting the association of banking with easy, fun-to-make comfort food, and not, like, the hoarding dragons of dead capital which must be driven away from our villages.
6. Spread the pie filling over the top layer.
7. Refrigerate for at least 2 to 4 hours (I left mine overnight).
I really like this recipe, for the same reason I like eating a donut with a fork and knife: it confronts the class associations of “the rabble’s junk food” with the grace and daintiness afforded the social strata perpetually denied to us. And those same boss hogs who ask for rocket by name and look at a very wide slice of pizza with concern would see the texture of this pastry and immediately accept it as the diligent work of an artisanal bakery beyond the price range of the person who actually made it. Those chumps, those blockheads.
The flavor and mouthfeel are simple and sinister, I think in the same way wine enthusiasts are seduced by the seeming complexities of a very simple recipe. I can’t recommend using this recipe as the base for a sort of “counterfeit pastry” that you sell at gatherings of trust fund babies to disrupt and bankrupt a market built on speculative value. See, that’s what people do with wine. I’m tying it all together. I’m inspiring you. I’m illuminating your path.
You are now revolting manually.
Please follow @lou_reid, who provided this recipe and the photos. And send me your home-made recipes at jetta dot robertson at gmail or fryhavocblog at gmail.
Author: Jetta Rae
Founder of Fry Havoc. Can be found on twitter at @jetta_rae