Tag Archives: corn meal

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.


  • 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)


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.


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.


Best Grits–from a Florida Diner

Although I have not found any of my relatives who lived in Southern states (until the present generation), there is no question that we have many recipes in common.

Take grits. Now, a lot of people would say, “Yes, take the grits–far away, please.”  But they have not had the creamy grits I had in a Florida diner.  I happen to like grits.  I wrote about the importance of corn to the early settlers, and mentioned grits there.

What the cook does to grits is so similar to what my grandmothers did to corn meal–instead of mush, it is just “grits”, add cheese to either for a main dish, chill and fry for a polenta-like dish–etc.

Creamy grits

Creamy grits

But as much as I like grits–they always seem to come out a little, well, gritty.  So I was amazed and delighted when we stopped at Capozi’s Diner in New Port Richey Florida and I dipped my spoon into the smooth, silky version they create.

Caposey's Sign

Caposey’s Sign

I chatted with the owner and asked what they do.  In her mind it was nothing special, but she did say they cooked the grits 45 minutes, which is twice as long as is recommended on any of the packages I’ve seen. And as an afterthought, she said, “Half water and half milk.”

So I followed suit, and indeed the long cooking does the trick. It would be great if I had a slow cooker, but as it is, I had to do a lot of stirring, and still wound up with a pan that was a challenge to get clean—but OH, those silky grits. Not a pebble of grit left in them!

BEST Grits

Serves 4
Prep time 1 hour, 3 minutes
Cook time 50 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 53 minutes
Allergy Milk
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot


  • 1 cup hominy grits
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • dash salt


1. Bring water and milk (adding salt to taste) to a boil in large enough pan that spatters will not fly out.
2. Stir in grits, and immediately reduce heat as low as possible.
3. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently, until it becomes creamy smooth. It takes long slow cooking to get past the gritty stage.
4. Stir in butter
5. Serve warm with cream and sugar, or honey


Store leftovers in refrigerator to either slice and fry, or reheat in a microwave with a little added water.  I used leftovers to make cheesy grits by stirring in half a cup of grated cheese.  I then spooned the Sloppy Joe mix on top of it.

Still some left over?  Warm the cheesy grits for breakfast the next morning.