There are two recipes for “Indian Pudding” in Louisa Macculloch’s handwritten 19th century cookbook. This type of baked pudding was common in the New England colonies long before the first recipe appeared in printed cookbooks in the late 1700s. Historically, it is believed that there is a connection between the English “hasty pudding”, made with wheat flour, which was adapted to use cornmeal from native corn, referred to as “Indian flour” or “Indian meal”. Originally, Indian Pudding could be savory or sweet but by the mid-19th century a dessert-like Indian Pudding gained popularity with recipes listing cinnamon, ginger, raisins, nuts, additional sugar or even maple syrup as ingredients. Indian Pudding fell out of fashion by the late 19th century only to gain popularity again during the Colonial Revival movement.
Original Recipe—Indian Pudding
Boil one quart of milk
Mix in it 2 ½ gills of corn meal, very smoothly
4 eggs, well beaten
1 gill of molasses
1 piece of good butter (about the size of a stone)
Bake it two hours!
*gill is a unit of measurement not frequently used today. It is approximately equal to a half cup.
Adapted Recipe—Indian Pudding
4 cups of whole milk
1 ¼ cup of corn meal
4 eggs, well beaten
½ cup of molasses
¼ cup butter, cut into cubes
½ freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a round 6-cup (1.5 qt) casserole dish with butter. In a medium bowl beat eggs and set aside. Heat milk in 4-quart saucepan just below boiling. Slowly add cornmeal to milk. Whisk constantly for about 10 minutes. Slowly stir in molasses and cook on low heat for another 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in cubed butter. Next, temper eggs by adding a spoonful of the hot mixture to the eggs, stirring slowly to increase the temperature of the eggs. Repeat this process until you have added about a half a cup of the hot mixture to the eggs. Now add the egg mixture to the saucepan and combine. Pour batter into the casserole dish. Bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours until the top is browned and pudding is set and the center is somewhat firm. Cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm.
**This recipe can be baked directly in the oven or baked using a water bath. With a water bath, use a larger pan filled with hot water that comes up halfway on the casserole dish. Additional hot water may need to be added to keep the water bath at the proper level. Cooking time may be shorter without the water bath.
–A sweet Indian Pudding recipe with light-brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg
–A similar recipe included in a 2019 Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives Gallery exhibit, “Cooking Pot to Melting Pot: New Jersey’s Diverse Foodways”.
–A short history of Indian Pudding
Topic: Munchie Monday
Age / Level: High School, College, Life Long Learner