Indian Pudding

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My first encounter with Indian Pudding was over 20 years ago at Durgin Park, a landmark restaurant in Faneuil Hall, Boston, famous for its home-style Yankee cooking and, at the time, its cranky, octogenarian waitresses.

Few desserts look so completely unappetizing yet taste so incredibly good. One bite of this lumpy, brown mush, with a dab of vanilla ice cream, and I was sold. Scraped every last bit from the bowl.

Indian Pudding

Why indian pudding isn’t more widely known I have no idea; it’s one of my favorite desserts of all time, and a traditional New England Thanksgiving classic. Indian pudding is a baked custard with milk, butter, molasses, eggs, spices, and cornmeal.

The name is likely derived from the cornmeal, which was known as indian meal way back when. Here is a tried-and-true recipe for indian pudding adapted from An Olde Concord Christmas, a long out-of-print book from the Concord Museum.

Indian Pudding Recipe

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Method

1 Scald the milk and butter in a large double boiler. Or heat the milk and butter for 5 or 6 minutes on high heat in the microwave, until it is boiling, then transfer it to a pot on the stove. Keep hot on medium heat.

2 Preheat oven to 250°F.

3 In a separate bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, and salt; stir in molasses. Thin the mixture with about 1/2 cup of scalded milk, a few tablespoons at a time, then gradually add the mixture back to the large pot of scalded milk. Cook, stirring until thickened.

4 Temper the eggs by slowly adding a half cup of the hot milk cornmeal mixture to the beaten eggs, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture back in with the hot milk cornmeal mixture, stir to combine. Stir in the sugar and spices, until smooth. At this point, if the mixture is clumpy, you can run it through a blender to smooth it out. Stir in the raisins (optional). Pour into a 2 1/2 quart shallow casserole dish. Bake for 2 hours at 250°F.

5 Allow the pudding to cool about an hour to be at its best. It should be reheated to warm temperature if it has been chilled. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Showing 4 of 36 Comments

  • Nada

    What molasses should I use?? I have date molasses, should I use it??

  • Meredith

    Is the cook time really 2 hours? How shallow is the pan?
    I’m coming up on 1 hour cooking in a 2.5 qt cake type rectangular glass pan and it’s quite brown on top.

  • Oxenhandler

    On October 8th, 2011, Izzy wrote: “How do you know when it’s done? Mine’s been in for 2 hours but still looks pretty wet/soft. What does it look like when done?

    Elise replied: “It sort of has the consistency of hot cereal, like cream of wheat or oatmeal, so yes, it is somewhat soft.”

    Like Izzy, I followed the recipe and cooked for two hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit as directed but the pudding in the picture posted with the recipe is firm and holds its shape… that’s what I want mine to do, so, I’ve put it back in the oven, turned up the heat to 425 F. and set the timer for three more hours.

    The pudding in the picture is not firm. It looks that way because it is thick, not runny. It really does have the consistency of thick, hot oatmeal. It should be soft, not firm. ~Elise

  • Cindy

    I always wondered if Indian pudding existed outside of my family, so I did a search and found this. I find it interesting how different the Indian pudding is while the same as what I’ve known. My family’s recipe has been passed down since they first settled Eastern LI NY, I’m the 17th generation since. But, the pudding I’ve had was cooked on the stove in a steamed pudding pan. It always came out as a sweet bread. It looks as the recipe is almost the same. I’ll have to try it sometime for comparison.

  • Izzy

    How do you know when it’s done? Mine’s been in for 2 hours but still looks pretty wet/soft. What does it look like when done?

    It sort of has the consistency of hot cereal, like cream of wheat or oatmeal, so yes, it is somewhat soft. ~Elise

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