Recipe: Recipes for White Sauce

Three white Sauces are commonly used for different purposes, and in each one of them milk is the basis. These Sauces differ from one another in thickness, and include thin white Sauce, which is used for cream toast and SOUPs; medium white Sauce, which is used for Dressing vegetables and is flavored in various ways to accompany meats, patties, or croquettes; and thick white Sauce, which is used to mix with the materials used for croquettes in order to hold them together.

To insure the best results, the proportion of flour and liquid should be learned for each kind, and to avoid the formation of lumps the proper method of mixing should be carefully followed out. A white Sauce properly made is perfectly smooth, and since only little care is needed to produce such a result it is inexcusable to serve a lumpy Sauce. Also, nothing is more disagreeable than thick, pasty Sauce, but this can be avoided by employing the right proportion of flour and milk. The ingredients and their proportions for the various kinds of white Sauce are as follows:

THIN WHITE Sauce

  •  1 c. milk
  •  1 Tb. butter
  •  1 Tb. flour
  •  1/2 tsp. salt

MEDIUM WHITE Sauce

  •  1 c. milk
  •  2 Tb. butter
  •  2 Tb. flour
  •  1/2 tsp. salt

THICK WHITE Sauce

  •  1 c. milk
  •  2 Tb. butter
  •  1/4 c. (4 Tb.) flour
  •  1/2 tsp. salt

It will be easy to remember the proportions for these three Sauces if it is observed that each one doubles the previous one in the quantity of flour used, the thin one having 1 tablespoonful to 1 cupful of milk, the medium one 2 tablespoonfuls to 1 cupful of milk, and the thick one 4 tablespoonfuls to 1 cupful of milk. To produce these Sauces the ingredients may be combined in three different ways, each of which has its advantages. These methods, which are here given, should be carefully observed, for they apply not only to the making of this particular Sauce, but to the combining of fat, starch, and liquid in any Sauce.

Method 1.–Heat the milk, being careful that it does not scorch. Brown the butter slightly in a Saucepan, add the flour and salt, and stir the mixture until it is perfectly smooth and has a deep cream color. Then add the hot milk gradually, stirring to prevent the formation of lumps. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the Sauce from scorching. Sauce made according to this method does not require long cooking because the flour added to the hot fat cooks quickly. In fact, it is a very desirable method, for the browned butter and the flour lend flavor to the Sauce. Many otherwise unattractive or rather tasteless foods can be made much more appetizing by the addition of white Sauce made in this way.

Method 2.–Put the milk on to heat. While this is heating, stir the butter, flour, and salt together until they are soft and well mixed; then add the hot milk to them slowly, stirring constantly. Place over the heat and finish cooking, or cook in a double boiler. Sauce made by this method requires longer cooking than the preceding one and it has less flavor.

Method 3.–Heat the milk, reserving a small portion. Stir the flour smooth with the cold milk and add it to the hot milk, stirring rapidly. Add the butter and the salt, and continue to stir if cooked over the heat; if cooked in a double boiler, stir only until the mixture is completely thickened and then continue to cook for 10 or 15 minutes. When butter is added to the mixture in this way, it is likely to float on top, especially if too much is used. A better Sauce may be made according to this method by using thin cream for the liquid and omitting the butter.

Woman’s Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 2
by Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences (Year 1928)