Post by Alison Hein.
Here’s an oldie but goodie – just in time for Thanksgiving. If you’re from New England, this may be familiar, old-fashioned holiday fare for you. If not, read on.
The first known recipe for Indian pudding appeared in what is considered America’s first cookbook – Amelia Simmons’ “American Cookery,” published in 1796. Amelia kindly provided three variants: one very eggy version with raisins which required less baking time, one simple and sweet, and one to be boiled in cloth for 12 hours! I used her sweet and simple version for inspiration:
A Nice Indian Pudding
3 pints scalded milk to one pint meal salted; cool, add 2 eggs, 4 ounces butter, sugar or molasses and spice q. f. it will require two and half hours baking.
Typically fuzzy food history opines that this dish was based on traditional English pudding, which is either baked or boiled, sweet or savory, and usually bread-like and custardy. Fine flour was not so easy to come by in the New World, so our ever inventive forefathers replaced it with “Indian” maize, or cornmeal, obtained from Native Americans. Sweetened simply, usually with molasses, this new “pudding” must have been a rare treat back in the day. Rumor has it that colonists contributed this dish to some of our earliest Thanksgiving celebrations with Native Americans.
I baked my Indian pudding slowly at a low temperature, and found it to be an inviting blend of custard, corn bread, and pudding. A subtle treat, and an old-fashioned and familiar breakfast in bed.
3 cups whole milk
4 ounces butter
1 cup corn meal
½ cup sugar
¼ cup maple syrup (or substitute molasses)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon mace
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 325°, and spray an 8×8-inch pan with cooking spray. Scald milk by heating in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, without stirring, until tiny ripples begin to form on the surface. Add butter and remove from heat. When butter is melted, slowly add corn meal, stirring rapidly to ensure no lumps form. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Stir eggs into corn meal mixture. Add sugar, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, ginger, mace and nutmeg and stir until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 2 to 2 ½ hours until pudding is set and a toothpick in center comes out clean.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.