Make a Real American Dessert: Indian Pudding

Well, darn, we missed National Indian Pudding Day. Mark your calendar for November 13 next year, but don’t wait untili then to bake what some consider the FIRST genuinely uniquely American recipe.  You can read about it, and see the recipe from the venerable Wayside Inn (Built by my Howe ancestors, ahem) at this NPR site.

As the article points out, the original was probably very simple–cornmeal, molasses and milk steamed or baked over an open fired.  But today we favor versions adding egg for a lighter texture and spices for a livelier flavor.

Unfortunately, Indian Pudding is not very photogenic, so you’re only getting one picture–the one with the recipe below, where the pudding is slathered in whipped cream.  It may be the plain Jane of desserts, but it’s a swell after-dinner date nonetheless.

I found the recipe I used at a good site for historic recipes--What’s Cooking America.

This recipe was shared with me by Mary Wright Huber of Tucson, AZ (formerly of CT and MA). Mary says:

“Below you will find my family’s version of Indian Pudding.  It is based on an old 1896 Boston Cooking School recipe, which was run by Fannie [Merritt] Farmer. There are many variations of this recipe, some with no spices and some with raisins.  One or two even include pumpkin.  Although I prefer lots of spices (I am fairly flexible on that issue), and can even see the pumpkin people’s point of view.  But I am adamantly anti-raisin!  I also think it is a travesty to cook the pudding for less time, at a higher temperature.  Many of the newer recipes do this, and I can’t see how one can get the same fine-grained custardy texture.  I also think the higher temperatures are likely to form a thick, coagulated layer over the top of the dessert.  This recipe takes times and patience, but the reward is great (taste). It not only makes a great dessert (with ice cream), but I have been known to eat it re-heated; with half and half; for breakfast.”

Note: I have transferred the recipe, with very minor changes, to my recipe app, which allows you to print it out.

 

 

 

Indian Pudding

Serves 10-14
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 2 hours, 30 minutes
Total time 3 hours
Allergy Egg, Milk
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Region American
Website What America Cooks
The most American recipe you can find--Indian pudding. Spiced up to meet modern tastes, but still easy and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Milk ((See recipe note))
  • 1/2 cup Corn meal
  • 3/4 cups molasses
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger (powdered)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves (ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (ground)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (ground)
  • 3-4 eggs (well-beaten)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (for greasing pan)
  • tablespoon sugar (for preparing pan)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Lightly grease a 6- or 8-cup souffle or baking dish with the 1 T. butter, and sprinkle with 1 T. sugar.
2. In saucepan, heat milk just below boiling. When small bubbles appear all over, you're good. Stir in the cornmeal and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes until mixture is syrupy. (If your pan does not have a thick bottom, put in a slightly larger pan with boiling water, or a double boiler.)
3. Stir in molasses and cook another 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and stir in butter, salt and spices. Stir until butter is melted.
5. Beat the eggs. Temper the eggs-stir a a few spoonsful of the hot mixture, a spoonful at a time, into the eggs, stirring each time to slowly bring up the temperature of the eggs. This prevents getting scrambled eggs in your pudding. When the eggs have warmed to near the temperature of the by now cooled off mixture, pour all the eggs into the pot and stir until no streaks remain.
6. Pour the mixture into baking dish. Put shallow pan in oven, and place pudding dish in that pan. Pour Boiling water into pan. It should come 1/3 to 1/2 way up the dish. Bake at 275 degrees until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. This can take up to 2 1/2 hours.
7. You can serve the pudding warm or cold. If you are refrigerating, it is best to let it cool to room temperature first. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Note

You will have a richer pudding if you use 1 cup of cream and 3 cups of whole milk or 2 cups of half and half and 2 cups of milk. If you are counting calories and watching cholesterol, you can still get a satisfactory pudding with 4 cups of 2% milk.

Don't overbake your pudding. I left mine in the oven a little too long and it wept. (Separated so liquid was floating around the outer edges.)

 

 

Some people add raisins. I think they're superfluous, but have it your way.

My Joy of Cooking cookbook recipe uses less molasses and adds 1/4 cup of brown sugar. If you don't love molasses as much as I do, you might want to go that way.

 

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