New England Recipes Masthead I New Egnland Recipes Masthead II

Baked Indian Pudding

Our ancestors would not recognize today’s pudding as being pudding. Their puddings were a cake-like product boiled in a bag. “A Nice Indian Pudding” from Amelia Simmons (1796), “No. 3 Salt a pint [corn] meal, wet with one quart milk, sweeten and put into a strong cloth [bag], brass or bell metal vessel, stone or earthen pot, secure from [getting] wet and boil 12 hours.” Before ovens became common place in homes open fires were the only means to cook. To cook a pudding the batter was thicken with flour or corn meal and placed in a cloth bag and set inside a pot of boiling water. That produced a sweetened cake-like product called pudding. Later ovens allowed women to bake their puddings and with it came the Baked Indian Pudding.

From the onset of cookbooks like Simmons “American Cookery” the various methods and recipes show how our ancestors made Indian Pudding. Baking times varied greatly due to some of the cooking done on top of the stove. That shortened the bake time. Other recipes did all the cooking in the oven and therefore had long baking times.  Sugar and molasses were interchangeable. Optional was the addition of raisins or currants.  Most recipes called for spice, one or a combination: ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whether baked or boiled it came out cake-like.

In 1880 Maria Parloa a well known New England cook and principal of the School of Cooking in Boston, published two recipes in her cook book “Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book” . She included a fancy Indian pudding and a “Delicate” Indian pudding. Each was quite different in taste and cooking method.

Her Indian and Apple Pudding included chopped apples with ginger and nutmeg. She cooked it on top of the stove for half an hour and baked it for three hours. The Delicate Indian Pudding contained eggs and sugar. No molasses. The cooking time was shortened to twelve minutes on top of stove and one hour in oven. The eggs and sugar probably made it a lighter, fluffier version.

Boston had two cooking schools the other was started in 1879 and had Mary Lincoln as its principal. In 1884, Lincoln published her first Boston Cooking School Cook Book. Mrs. Lincoln offered two different recipes but the main difference was not the ingredients but the cooking method with long and short baking times.

Her recipe for Plymouth Indian Meal Pudding is indication of what was to come with regional identification through recipes note its name recognition. All of the ingredients are mixed together and poured into a pudding-dish, then baked for seven or eight hours. Her Baked Indian Meal Pudding (made quickly) cooked the milk and cornmeal for one hour on top of the stove, then added the other ingredients and baked for one hour. Neither of her recipes used spices.

In 1896 Fannie Farmer, principal of the Boston Cooking School published her first Boston Cooking School Cook Book. She created her own version. It omitted the eggs and used one spice, ginger. This recipe shortened the stove top cooking time to twenty minutes and increased the baking time to two hours. 


All of these recipes are similar with minor differences. Most contain molasses and cornmeal the main ingredients associated with Baked Indian Pudding.


Circa 1840 -1850 the Durgin-Park restaurant developed its own recipe. They share it in a pamphlet given out at the restaurant.


Baked Indian Pudding

1 cup yellow granulated corn meal                   teaspoon salt
cup black molasses                                     teaspoon baking soda
cup granulated sugar                                   2 eggs
cup of lard or butter                                    1- quarts hot milk

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly with one half (3/4 quart) of the above hot milk and bake in very hot oven until it boils. Then stir in remaining half (3/4 quart) of hot milk, and bake in slow oven heat for five to seven hours. Bake in stone crock, well greased inside.