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What is Flummery?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2016
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Flummery is, in general, a type of pudding that originated in the United Kingdom (UK) hundreds of years ago and exists to this day in a number of different forms. Often made using cornstarch as a thickener, the dish can use a variety of ingredients, though fresh berries, cream, and oatmeal are quite common. It was once regarded as a very special treat, though eventually it came to be ridiculed as a bland and less satisfying dessert than others made available through newer cooking techniques. Flummery is typically about as flavorful as the ingredients used to create it, and can range from a boring flan to a much more lively and unique pudding.

Many traditional recipes for flummery call for oatmeal to be used as both a thickener and a filler ingredient. Similar in many ways to how oatmeal can be used in ground meat dishes like meatloaf and meatballs, the oatmeal is an inexpensive way to make the dish larger to feed more people. This, however, typically does not introduce much flavor to the dish, and many modern recipes for flummery will drop oatmeal completely in favor of more flavorful methods of preparation.

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One popular form of Irish flummery keeps the oatmeal in the dish, but adds enough other ingredients to keep the final product from being anything resembling bland. Heavy cream is whipped until soft peaks form, at which point it is combined with toasted almond slices and oatmeal, warmed honey, lemon juice, berries such as raspberries or blueberries, and Irish whiskey. The resulting flummery is soft, creamy, and just about exploding with flavor.

A simple flummery can be made by combining gelatin, cream, and sugar. Flavored gelatin can be used to add a bit of flavor or unflavored gelatin can be used with vanilla. The gelatin is prepared with boiling water and then allowed to cool before being mixed with cream. This combination is blended until soft and slightly airy, before being allowed to cool for several hours to thicken properly. Fresh berries can also be added to create a simple yet flavorful dessert.

Flummery has also come to be used as a term of derision outside of culinary contexts. Due to the tendency of early versions to be mostly oatmeal and cream, with little other flavor or texture, the dish was often devoid of much real content. The name was extended beyond the realm of cuisine and is often used to describe something that is absent of meaning or generally insipid.

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