Orange Creams

This refreshing dessert is not as thick as a modern pudding, and can be sipped or eaten with a spoon. For a lighter alternative without the egg yolks, try a clear lemon cream, made with the juice of two lemons, a cup of sugar, 4 egg whites and a cup of water, heated until thick.

18th Century

Take and pare the rind of a Seville orange very fine, and squeeze the juice of four oranges; put them into a stew —pan, with half a pint of water, and half a pound of fine sugar, beat the whites of five eggs and mix into it, and set them on a slow fire; stir it one way till it grows thick and white, strain it through a gauze, and stir it till cold; then beat the yolks of five eggs very fine, and put into your pan with the cream; stir it over a gentle fire till it is ready to boil; then put in your glasses.

Glasse, Hannah, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy”

21st Century

  • 4 oranges
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  1. Carefully pare the rind of one orange, insuring no white is used since it is bitter.
  2. Add the juice of the oranges, water, sugar, and rind into a saucepan.
  3. In a bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy and add them to the juice, water and sugar.
  4. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. Strain through a fine sieve, and return mixture to a clean pan.
  6. In a bowl, beat egg yolks until light yellow. Temper with some of the hot mixture and return to the pan. Cook until thickened.
  7. Cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  8. Spoon into cups or glasses. Cream will be thickened as is a light custard.

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30 Responses to “Orange Creams”

  1. July 26th, 2012

    Christine Hansley says:

    Hi Frank,

    This sounds like a really good summer refreshment. About how many ounces of juice should we have? About how long after adding the egg yolks for the thickness desired? Is this a serve immediatlely or can we make this ahead of time?How do the leftovers stand up to refrigeration? How many days are the leftovers good for? Have you tried this with other citrus – limes, lemons or grapefruit?

    Thanks as always for the great recipes,

    • July 30th, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      Good questions. We have never really measured the juice, but rather just squeezed four oranges. The oranges should be a little bigger than the size of tennis balls. The ingredients work well together. Process is the other key to this. Whip the egg whites until they are frothy — not necessarily a meringue. When the yolks are added, it is helpful to keep stirring in the same direction rather than back and forth. It should be creamier this way. Thickness is up to you but I would recommend a medium thickness, not too runny and not too stiff. They do OK in the fridge beforehand, but leftover orange creams? They are too good for leftovers. You can use other citrus if you like, but a reminder, we are using the original source material so we don’t see limes or grapefruit as period creams. Appreciate the comments,

      -Dennis Cotner

      • July 30th, 2012

        Christine Hansley says:

        Hi Dennis,

        Thanks for the info. The recipe does not say how many this is to serve. That’s why I asked about leftovers. There are only two of us in the house.
        Speaking of number of servings – putting that on all the recipes would be appreciated.

        Thanks again,

  2. July 28th, 2012

    Helen FitzGerald says:

    This is sort of like a creme anglaise but the use of the egg whites is throwing me a loop. The key idea is to cook low and slow. Egg whites currdle at 150F and egg yolks curdle at 140F. Cook until the mixture is nappe’ or coats the back of a spoon.

    I imagine that you use the juice of the 4 oranges. However, Seville oranges aren’t sweet. I’m wondering about the amount of sugar or whether some lemon or grape fruit juice should be used to adjust to the correct level of tartness.

    Most desserts of this type need to be chilled. I bet this would be a great ice cream base.

    Cheers, Helen. (I am a Le Cordon Bleu student at the S.F. California Culinary Academy)

    • July 30th, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      Hello Helen,
      As for Sevilles, they are OK. But yes, the sweeter oranges are what most people are used to and can be used. Even though we are using period sources, we are putting it into modern measurements for familiarity. At the same time, we trust you will sort of ‘let go’ and practice those sensory arts of taste, touch and smell to help get a more 18th-century understanding of the recipes. You certainly can add other ingredients to see what you like but we are sure you’ll like the original. As for curdling, we don’t recommend a high heat but medium/high. Stirring will help keep this smooth. I’ve made this a number of times and they are always good and rarely curdle. You mentioned milk or cream. Neither are in this, but the word “cream” refers to the mixture when finished. This can be served at room temp if you make it right before the dinner, it does taste good that way. The suggestion about ice cream sounds really good too. Let us know if you try it. Thanks much for your observations. Keep cookin’.

      -Dennis Cotner

  3. July 28th, 2012

    Helen FitzGerald says:

    I should add that the addition of milk and sugar raise the curdling point to about 180-185F. I’m not sure what the addition of egg whites does. I am looking forward to Frank’s response.

    Many thanks!

  4. July 28th, 2012

    Helen FitzGerald says:

    Sorry – one more comment. It reads that this receipt should include cream – that the egg yolks are cooked with?

  5. July 30th, 2012

    Franco says:

    When i was down @ the end of June, Susan was in the Gov’s kitchen & gave me the receipe using the lemons. Unfortunately I lost it & am so gald that you put it up.
    I thoughy she had said to use the egg yolks as you have in the orange receipe but you say not to. Does it matter? Is there a reason not to w/the lemons?

    • August 2nd, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      It was nice of you to come down and see us in the kitchens. What you are looking at are two different recipes. The orange cream being one, and you can make a lemon cream with egg yolk. The lead-in comment, however, refers to a clear lemon cream, that when made, ends up looking like “lemonade pudding” of a modern sort. That recipe really gives a lemony tartness to the end result. There are, of course, several recipes that we find for certain foods when researching and they are all fabulous. Give them all a try, you won’t be disappointed.

      • August 2nd, 2012

        Franco says:

        I will! Thanks for getting back to me.
        Will be ther again next summer.

  6. August 7th, 2012

    J Bell says:

    Would you please explain what “pare the rind of the orange” means?

    • August 9th, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:


      Paring the orange is like paring an apple, but you don’t want to get any of the white inner rind, known as pith, to come off with it. If you get some of the pith, it won’t hurt, but it is really fibrous and bitter. The parings give an extra boost of flavor to the creams. Thanks for your questions everyone.

      Dennis Cotner

  7. August 7th, 2012

    Frank says:

    Lemon Cream version. Delicious!Tell Susan.
    Pic 1

  8. August 7th, 2012

    Frank says:

    Lemon Cream pic 2

  9. August 7th, 2012

    J Bell says:


    How thick was the lemon cream?

  10. August 8th, 2012

    Frank says:

    It was like a custard, not too thick. If you’re doing the lemons, the ones I used were large; if you want one not as tart use use 3 or 4 “normal” sized lemons. Also, I used a regular vegetable scraper & got no white at all. It’s a very easy receipe to do.

  11. September 24th, 2012

    kirean says:

    I made the clear lemon cream for dessert last night. The taste was wonderful, but, mine didn’t turn out clear. It turned out a very pale yellow froth. Very, very, tasty, but, not at all what was pictured. Any ideas?

    • September 25th, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      The clear lemon creams will not be “clear” in a literal sense, but will resemble the color of lemonade. What was pictured was the orange creams, and they will be more deep orange because of the combination of egg yolks and orange juice. They should thicken over the heat if you use a moderate to high heat level, not boiling. Keep stirring in one direction, not back and forth, take them off the heat when they start to thicken well and you should see a difference. These are excellent with a shortbread cookie to accompany them. Thanks for your question.

  12. December 31st, 2012

    I would like to apply this process to other fruits. Would the recipe change by the geletain content of the different fruits.

    • December 31st, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      You certainly could try other fruit juices such as pineapple or plums. The difference is that lemons and oranges are really your juice fruits that lend the kind of flavor punch that this recipe looks for. We’ve not seen other recipes in the 18th century that have other fruit juices in them but if you try it let us know how it comes out.
      Dennis Cotner

  13. March 29th, 2013

    J Bell says:

    Would you please explain what a shrub is & publish recipes?

  14. April 3rd, 2013

    Dennis Cotner says:

    Most people do not drink shrub anymore. It is a fruit fortified liqueur and can be made with somthing as strong as brandy with sugar, spices and oranges slices with the peel thrown in. As for “publish recipes” you may mean published recipes which are the sources for all of these on the blog. Does this help? If not let me know. Thanks.

  15. April 4th, 2013

    J Bell says:

    Thanks for your reply re shrubs–I was wondering what is to be used in the shrub glasses that are sold in Wmsburg. I was under the impression that some of the taverns serve shrubs.

  16. April 25th, 2013

    Emma Monson says:

    How much does this recipe make?

  17. May 14th, 2013

    Anna Wade says:

    To answer the quantity questions – I only got about 4 4oz servings out of this Orange Creams recipe.

  18. September 21st, 2013

    Jennifer Dickman says:

    I am enjoying the recipes from your site. I homeschool my four kids and we decided for cooking class lessons, to take a look back at 1800’s cooking.

  19. November 30th, 2013

    Dawn says:

    I’m so glad you posted this! We just left Williamsburg after spending the Thanksgiving holiday, and the Inn had a pumpkin cream at breakfast on Th and F, and today it was a mixed fruit cream. Is that the same basic recipe tweaked for other fruits? The flavor and texture sound similar. If so, can you give us some guidance on how to vary the fruits? Thanks so much!

    • December 10th, 2013

      Historic Foodways says:

      According to Chef Travis Brust:

      The 18th century recipe given here is a custard based recipe that typically is flavored through citrus juices and zest. I would say that other juices would be suitable for this with the addition of the zest. For example, fresh juiced strawberries with the zest but not the juice of the lemon would work nicely.

      The Pumpkin Cream that was enjoyed at the Inn was a more modern day smoothie on the breakfast buffet which is simply pumpkin puree (other fruit purees will work as well) additional suitable spices or flavorings such as citrus zests or even sweeter herbs like tarragons and basils, half and half, low-fat yogurt and sweetened to your liking with honey or sugar.

  20. January 23rd, 2014

    Kathryn says:

    Loved this recipe and it turned out beautifully!

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