Charlestonians long assumed their beloved Huguenot torte, a rumpled apple nut cake, represented a sticky sweet link to the city's French Protestant past. But food historian John Martin Taylor in the 1980s disproved the legend by tracking down Evelyn Florance, the woman who submitted the torte recipe to the Junior League's "Charleston Receipts" cookbook.
As Florance told Taylor, she'd first tasted the dessert at a church supper in Galveston, Texas. She then fooled with the recipe for a few years, and when in 1942 she put it on the menu at Charleston's Huguenot Tavern, she rechristened the Ozark pudding in honor of her employer.
"I don't hold the untruths that have been propagated about the torte against it, because in actuality, this torte is one of the most amazing desserts I've ever had," food blogger Sarah Lohman wrote after researching the pastry.
According to the late Southern food chronicler John Egerton, the dish "apparently originated in the mountains of northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri." Missouri native Bess Truman in the 1950s bolstered the dessert's national profile by submitting an Ozark pudding recipe to the "Congressional Club Cookbook."
"The President's wife did not try to be what she was not," the fifth volume of "A History of Missouri" notes approvingly in describing her choice.
Like Ozark pudding, Huguenot torte is rarely found in restaurants and bakeries, despite the local citizenry's affection for it. But if you didn't catch it at a tearoom lunch this season, it's now on pastry chef Courtney Simpson's menu at Middleton Place Restaurant.