While the dish may have the name of Indian Pudding the truth is it is not a traditional native dish. Since Native Americans had neither milk nor molasses to use in their cooking we know that the source of the recipe comes from somewhere else. Native Americans did however mix ground corn with berries and may have had maple syrup since maple trees may have been present. Hasty Pudding or Indian Pudding was an English tradition for centuries. Hasty pudding was first printed in the late 1500's and the Indian Pudding recipe did not appear before the late 1700's.
The love of pudding came from the first colonist in Virginia. A favorite of the New England Settlers the dish became known as Indian Pudding. Early Indian Pudding was a simple cornmeal mush sweetened with molasses. Later it was dressed up with sugar, eggs, raisins and spices.
According to the article From the Kitchen by Jan Longone from The American Magazine and Historical Chronicle, Vol 2, No. 1, Spring-Summer 1986:
We do know that the techniques used in making Indian or Hasty Pudding are age-old; gruels, potages, porridges, frumenties, and puddings were made from earliest times. We also know that specific pudding recipes very similar in nature to those for Indian Pudding appear in early English cookbooks, but these use wheat flour, rye flour, oatmeal, ground rice, crumbled bread or cake, or other cereals and starches in place of the corn meal. Further, there are records that various Indian tribes and civilizations in the New World were making some form of corn meal gruel or pudding, of times sweetened with honey or native berries. But it is exactly the combination of the ancient techniques with the indigenous New World crop, corn, flavored with the colonial products of ginger, nutmeg and molasses, which I believe makes Indian Pudding a contender for our national dish.
John Josselyn, in his New England Rarities Discovered (London, 1672) also discusses the use of hominey or corn in puddings:
It is light of digestion, and the English make a kind of Loblolly of it to eat with Milk, which they call Sampe; they beat it in a Morter, and sift the flower [flour] out of it; the remainder they call Hominey, which they put into a Pot of two or three Gallons, with Water, and boyl it upon a gently Fire till it be like a Hasty Puden; thye put of this into Milk and so eat it.
In 1796, Joel Barlow (1754-1812), American poet and diplomat, wrote his famous poem called "The Hasty Pudding." The poem was inspired by his homesickness for New England and his favorite cornmeal mush.
And all my bones were made of Indian corn.
Delicious grain! Whatever form it take.
To toast or boil, to smother or to bake,
In every dish 'tis welcome still to me,
but most, my Hasty Pudding, most in thee.
3 cups whole milk1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg1/4 teaspoon ground cloves1/4 teaspoon ground ginger4 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Lightly grease a 6- or 8-cup soufflé or baking dish with butter (you can use margarine, but DON’T use non-stick sprays).
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat, scald the milk.
While the milk is heating, pour the cream into a medium to large bowl, add the cornmeal, sugar, molasses, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Add this cream/corn meal/spice mixture to the scalded milk. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-low heat until the pudding has thickened to the consistency of syrup (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat.
In a bowl, beat eggs with a whisk. Temper the eggs by adding 1/2 cup of the hot cornmeal mixture to the eggs while whisking rapidly. Vigorously whisk the egg mixture into the remaining cornmeal mixture. Add butter, one piece at a time, stirring until melted.
Pour mixture into the prepared soufflé dish, and place dish on a shallow baking pan on the center oven rack. Pour enough HOT water into the shallow baking dish to come 2/3 of the way up the outsides of the soufflé or baking dish.
Bake until pudding is set, a tester inserted close to (but not in) the center comes out clean, usually about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and remove from the water bath and let cool slightly.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or heavy cream.
Makes 8 to 16 servings (depending on your sweet tooth).shared at
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