Indian Pudding in Sturbridge Massachusetts (with recipe!)
Indian Pudding was on the menus absolutely everywhere we went in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. We finally tried it the day we had lunch at the Old Sturbridge Village Tavern.
We couldn’t have been more wrong!
It turns out that Indian Pudding, which originated in New England, is a spicy baked pudding made chiefly of cornmeal, milk, and molasses. The name Indian pudding comes from the addition of cornmeal—early colonists called most everything made with corn “Indian.” Originally the pudding was cooked in a pot over the open hearth and was very dense.
And it is NOTHING like the southern dishes we had in mind.
Indian pudding is traditionally serviced with ice cream, whipped cream, or hard sauce for a reason. We declined all of the above, and quickly regretted our choice.
What we received was essentially big bowl of warm molasses, slightly diluted with cornmeal and ginger. It was astoundingly strong in flavour.
Neil, a molasses fan, thought the Indian Pudding was amazing. I found it too sweet to eat.
I also got so loopy from the iron and sugar in just a spoonful that I spent the afternoon running and whooping up and down the dirt roads of historic Old Sturbridge Village (OSV). (Picture an overstimulated child the day after Halloween: that was me. Parents and school teachers will know exactly what I’m talking about.)
To put that phenomenal sugar rush into perspective, the OSV tinker told us that the early settlers at Sturbridge ate an average diet of 5,000 calories a day, and yet had life expectancies into the 70’s and 80’s: they burned off the calories with hard physical labour.
Indian Pudding had to go a long way to making up those 5,000 calories.
This is a good dish to serve on the crisp autumn weekend you fill your cellar with wood for the winter. Or the day you shovel driveways for your entire zip code.
It should also be a big winner with any anemics or vegan vampires you have over for Thanksgiving dinner.
You can find recipes for Indian Pudding in both Fanny Farmer and the Joy of Cooking, or you can try this recipe from Jasper White’s Cooking from New England via Steven Frederick’s blog.
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups milk
- 5 Tablespoons yellow cornmeal or johnnycake meal
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 cup cold milk
- Heavy or light cream for serving
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Grease a 1 ½ quart soufflé mold or baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter; set aside.
- Heat 3 cups of milk in a saucepan until it is close to a boil.
- Add the cornmeal and reduce heat to low. Stir until the mixture thickens (about 5 minutes).
- Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter, the molasses, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, ginger and egg.
- Pour into buttered mold or dish.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Pour the cold milk over the pudding and return to the oven.
- Cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes more or until the top is brown and crisp.
- Serve hot with cream.
Serves 6 to 8 people.
And if Indian Pudding isn’t hearty enough for your tastes, you might want to try flumadiddle: a baked main course pudding from New England made with stale bread, molasses, spices and pork fat.
Enjoy your taste of Massachusetts!
Photo Credit: Elise at Simply Recipes