Friday, December 15, 2006

Southern-Style Puddings for Christmas

From Diana Rattray
Your Guide to Southern U.S. Cuisine

Puddings are usually thought of as a milk-based flavored dessert, creamy and soft-textured. There are actually many more puddings to explore, some going back to the Native Americans and early Colonial settlers.

The word pudding might be derived from the Old French boudin, "sausage," which is from the Latin "botelinus," since many of the earliest puddings were encased meat mixtures. Dr. Johnson's Dictionary (1755) defines pudding as "a kind of food very variously compounded, but generally made of meal, milk, and eggs."

One of the earliest American versions of a pudding was Indian Pudding, also called "hasty pudding" or "cornmeal mush." It was commonly a mixture of milk, cornmeal, eggs, sugar, and spices with a soft texture and a flavor similar to gingerbread.

It was a favorite in both the North and the South, with recipes appearing in some of the earliest cookbooks, but is now rarely found in the South.

Bread pudding is one of the favorites in most Southern regions, and there are thousands of variations from simple cinnamon-spiced with raisins, to versions with chocolate or fruit mixed in or layered.

A local favorite, Woodford Pudding originated in Woodford County, Kentucky over 100 years ago. It is a spongy baked pudding made with blackberry jam and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, topped with a sauce. Ozark pudding apparently originated in the mountains of northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri. It is a simple mixture of apples, nuts, a little flour, sugar and eggs.

Woodruff Pudding:

3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice or nutmeg
1 cup blackberry jam
3 tablespoons buttermilk or sour milk

Beat sugar and butter until well blended; beat in eggs. Add remaining ingredients, blending well. Pour into an 8- or 9-inch round or square baking dish and bake at 325° for 35 to 45 minutes, or until browned.

Ozarks Pudding:

1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup finely chopped peeled apples

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat egg and sugar together until creamy. Stir in sifted dry ingredients, blending well. Stir in vanilla, chopped nuts, and chopped apples.

Spoon batter into a well-greased 10-inch pie plate and bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Sprinkle more nuts over the top, if desired, and serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.

*Photo Courtesy of Arnaud's Restaurant