The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Old Fashion Christmas Puddings

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1995

Issue: Winter, 1995

One of the oldest Christmas traditions brought to America from the Old Country is Christmas pudding. In England, treats such as coins are wrapped in foil and cooked into the pudding. Many people believe the sooner you cook your pudding, the better it is. These puddings keep for weeks in a cool place, needing only to be re-steamed. With this treatment, puddings ripen and become more delicious. They are best served hot and steaming with hard sauce.

Indian pudding was an old favorite in New England. It used to bake for ten hours, but modern versions only take three. In the South, soft or boiled custards are another old time favorite to serve at Christmas. We have included several different pudding recipes in case you would like to try adding a pudding to your list of traditional Christmas sweets. We know you will enjoy trying these old fashioned favorites.

Grandma's Boiled Custard Pudding

4 cups milk
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Scald milk. Beat egg yolks lightly. Add sugar and vanilla. Remove milk from boiler in which it was scalded (this keeps the milk sediment from affecting the texture of the custard). Pour over the beaten egg yolks a little at a time. Place in a double boiler, and cook at simmering only until mixture coats a spoon lightly. Take from heat and cool. Serves 6.

Plantation Pudding

2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup molasses
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 packages (3 oz. each) cream cheese
2 tablespoons milk.

Sift together flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Add butter; cut with two knives or pastry blender to resemble coarse meal. Combine molasses, water and baking soda. Alternate layers of crumbs and liquid in greased 8 inch square pan, beginning and ending with crumbs. Stir gently 2 or 3 times with fork. Bake in 350 degree oven for one hour. When ready to serve, blend together cream cheese and milk. Cut cake into squares; place spoonful of cream cheese on top of each square and top with lemon sauce. Serves 12.

Lemon Sauce

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup butter or margarine

Mix together cornstarch, sugar and salt in saucepan. Gradually stir in water. Cook stirring constantly until mixture boils and is thickened and clear. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Serve warm. Makes 2 1/2 cups sauce.

Indian Pudding

4 cups milk, divided
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger

Heat 2 cups milk over low heat in 2 quart saucepan. Mix cornmeal with 1/2 cup cold milk, stir into scalded milk. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter and molasses. Combine salt, sugar, cinnamon and ginger; stir into cornmeal mixture; add remaining 1 1/2 cup milk. Pour into 1 1/2 quart casserole. Bake in very slow oven (250 degrees) for 3 hours. Makes 6 servings.

Molasses Hard Sauce for Puddings

1/3 cup butter or margarine
2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons molasses

Cream butter. Add confectioners' sugar alternately with milk and molasses. Makes 1 2/3 cups sauce. When you put it on top of hot pudding, it will soften and drip down sides.

Molasses Pudding

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, divided
2/3 cup Sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/4 cups water
juice of one lemon

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cream 4 tablespoons of butter. Gradually add sugar and cream mixture until light and fluffy. Add milk alternately with flour, beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in raisins and lemon rind. Turn into a well-greased 9 inch square pan. Combine remaining butter, molasses, water and lemon juice in saucepan. Bring to boil. Remove from heat and pour gently over batter. Bake in 350 degree oven 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Boiled Soft Custard

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
dash salt
1 cup milk, scalded
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine eggs, sugar and salt in bowl. Add scalded milk slowly, beating and stirring constantly. Return to upper part of double boiler and cook over water which should never more than simmer, stirring constantly until custard thickens and coats spoon. Cool slightly, add vanilla and cool.

Any desired flavoring may be used in custard whether extract, freshly grated fruit rind or a sprinkling of spice such as cinnamon or nutmeg.


Do you know the difference between types of molasses? We often hear the term "blackstrap molasses," but what does that mean?

The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the sugar cane, the amount of sugar extracted, and the method of extraction. There are three major types of molasses: unsulphured, sulphured and blackstrap.

Unsulphured molasses is the finest quality. It is made from the juice of sun-ripened cane and the juice is clarified and concentrated.

Sulphured molasses is made from green sugar cane that has not matured long enough and treated with sulphur fumes during the sugar extracting process. Molasses from the first boiling is the finest grade because only a small amount of sugar has been removed. The second boil molasses takes on a darker color, is less sweet and has a more pronounced flavor.

Blackstrap molasses is from the third boil and only has a commercial value in the manufacture of cattle feed and other industrial uses.