The Maine Ingredient: Indian Pudding with Rhubarb-Apple Compote

Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2011 in Sustainable Maine

The Maine Ingredient: Indian Pudding with Rhubarb-Apple Compote

by Denise Tepler

Thinking about old-time Maine Spring cooking and facing the cold and dreary weather we have had, I was inspired by two ingredients found at the Farmer’s Market in Brunswick to make a rhubarb-apple compote flavored with candied ginger and serve it with a slow-baked New England Indian Pudding.

The beautiful rhubarb came from Keough Family Farm and at $3/lb. it is much cheaper than fiddleheads or asparagus. The cornmeal came from Fairwinds Farm which grew, dried and milled it in Topsham.

Along with asparagus, and wild-foraged fiddleheads, rhubarb is one of the earliest local foods to be harvested and appear in our Farmer’s Markets (and in the home garden.)  Other foods, such as lettuces and winter greens are now available early because of the advent of hoop houses on Maine farms; but rhubarb must have been very exciting as a Spring taste, totally different than winter flavors, for Mainers of the past. It is very high in vitamin C and must have helped restore the body after a long hard winter. 

Corn was a gift to Europeans from Native Americans.  It was unknown in the old world but European settlers found it cultivated by Native North Americans as a staple. Making a “pudding” of it, with milk, was certainly an invention of the early English immigrants.

This dessert is a good cold, rainy Sunday project and will make your family or friends happy.

Even though rhubarb is our Maine Ingredient, I will start with the recipe for Indian Pudding as it needs to be cooked first, it takes 2 hours to bake.

New England Indian Pudding

1 quart 2% Maine milk (Smiling Hill Farm or Moo Milk are good choices)

1 tsp. salt

1 cup finely milled cornmeal (Fairwinds Farm)

1/3 to ½  cup unsulphured molasses

3 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup butter

1 tsp. ginger powder

½ tsp. cinnamon

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Rhubarb-Apple Compote (recipe below) to top

Whipped Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream to top


Preheat the oven to 3000.  Finely chop the walnuts.

Bring the milk and salt to a bubbling simmer in a heavy saucepan.  Slowly and carefully add the cornmeal, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.

Cook the cornmeal and milk mixture over low heat, stirring continuously to prevent lumps and sticking, for about 10 more minutes, until thickened.

Add the sugar and stir and then add the molasses in a slow stream, stirring constantly. 

Continue to cook and stir for about 2 more minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add the beaten eggs and stir well.  Add the butter, ginger, cinnamon, and chopped walnuts.

Butter a ½ or 2 quart casserole dish well and pour in the pudding mixture.

Bake in a 3000 oven for about 2 hours until the pudding is fully set and the top is a bit browned.  While the pudding is baking, make the Rhubarb-Apple Compote.



Rhubarb-Apple Compote



6-8 stalks of local rhubarb

2 Maine-grown Macintosh apples

¼ cup of candied ginger (Reed’s brand is the best)

1/3 cup of sugar

½ cup of water (or apple cider)

Chop the rhubarb and place in a large, heavy, lidded saucepan.

Next, core, peel, and chop the apples and add them to the pan also.
















Finely chop the candied ginger, and add it to the saucepan as well.

Add all the other ingredients (sugar and water or cider) to the pan – cover and cook over medium low heat.


Stir frequently and continue to cook for about 15 minutes until the apples begin to dissolve and the rhubarb cooks down. 


The finished compote can be served warm over the Indian Pudding with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, or it can be eaten by itself with one of those toppings.  My family really enjoyed it and I hope yours does too!


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