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In my search for holiday recipes, I went back to one of my favorite blogs written by the cooks in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways. The cooks at the museum and historic site spend every day translating the food of Colonial America into an understandable recipe that can be recreated in any modern kitchen.

Indian pudding is a descendant of hasty pudding, transformed by the early American colonists by substituting corn meal for the wheat.  The settlers called corn meal "Indian meal", since they learned to cultivate it from the Indians.

Indian pudding is a descendant of hasty pudding, transformed by the early American colonists by substituting corn meal for the wheat. The settlers called corn meal “Indian meal”, since they learned to cultivate it from the Indians.

Looking through their recipe index, I stumbled across a great recipe for “A Nice Indian Pudding”, first published in Amelia Simmons American Cookery in 1796. It’s basically a fancy sweetened cornbread. There’s even a video to help you learn to make it! This beautiful variation is hearty, like a bread pudding, and would make a great and unexpected side dish at your holiday meal. It’s got a dark color and beautiful spices to give it that lovely fall flavor.

Coincidentally, after I’d written this blog, I heard more about Indian Pudding and it’s deep historical ties to New England history on an NPR podcast. You can read the transcripts and see more photos of Indian pudding by visiting their website.  I had to laugh when the reporter mentioned the color of the dish-it does not look terrible appetizing, for sure, but I find it makes a really delicious and hearty breakfast served warm with a bit of whip cream and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey over the top!

Ingredients

2 cups milk
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
6 tablespoons raisins
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon EACH of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
2 tablespoons of melted butter
3 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 360 degrees.

Heat milk over medium heat. Remove from heat and slowly add the cornmeal, stirring it in a little bit at a time with a whisk. Once it’s blended, put the mixture back on the burner and cook it until it’s fairly thick, stirring constantly.

The thickened cornmeal that is the base for this dish.

The thickened cornmeal that is the base for this dish.

Remove from heat and add the raisins, sugar, spices and butter and whisk them all together until well blended.

Adding the sugar and raisins and spices.

Adding the sugar and raisins and spices.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs well and then add the cream into the eggs and whisk until well blended. Add this egg/cream mixture to the cornmeal mixture and blend thoroughly with a spoon.

Adding eggs and cream

Adding eggs and cream

Pour the mixture into a greased 9 inch pie plate or an 8 inch square casserole dish.

The mixture before baking

The mixture before baking

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean.

Really lovely color and I wish I could convey the delicious smell through the computer to you!

 I wish I could convey the delicious smell through the computer to you!

Serve and enjoy!

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