Corn, cream, and butter with a bit of salt and pepper for flavor are all you need for a traditional and luxuriously rich side dish. I have heard about corn pudding for years from folks who grew up on farms or whose families had big gardens, and whose moms concocted this. They frequently cast their eyes heavenward and made mmmm, mmmm sounds when they talked about it. I marveled at the fact that all you had to do was mix corn with a bit of cream and bake it to end up with a simple and marvelously delicious savory pudding but, oddly, I had never tried it for myself until now.
We harvested the last bit of sweet corn this week. I cut quite a lot off cobs to freeze for winter; cooked up enough to make another batch of the corn relish I offered here last week; and set aside two cups to try out in this pudding. I find scant mention of this form of pudding in my older cookbooks, possibly because it is so simple that it hardly needed directions. Most people these days think of corn pudding as the concoction made with cornbread mix, eggs, creamed corn and kernel corn. This simple pudding has no thickener at all, but solidifies beautifully, I suspect, because of the way the corn is cut. Some kitchen scientist could explain why the carbohydrates in the corn produce this effect, but I don’t feel like I need to know as long as it happens.
The Joy of Cooking, (that is, my old one from the last century,) recommends the use of a corn scraper which I don’t own. I tried pushing the kernels off with a spoon and ended up spattering corn around, even on my spectacles, and all over the table. Trying to use my box grater produced a similar effect. So I switched to a very sharp knife, cut the tops off the kernels, and then scraped the cob with the back of the knife to get the milky part of the corn. This corn was mature, and a little drier than corn is earlier in the season, but, four ears later, I collected the needed two cups of soft, raw corn in a bowl. I added about a half cup of all-purpose cream to it, salt and pepper, poured it into a small baking dish. You are supposed to dot the top with bits of butter but I didn’t do that. It needs a slower than usual oven, 325 degrees, and about an hour baking, and comes out solid in a pudding-ish sort of way. Talk about good!
It is unbelievably easy to produce as long as you have fresh corn. Younger corn needs less cream added. Butter gilds the lily: this stuff is wonderful without it.
- 4 ears of corn
- ¼ to ½ cups of all-purpose cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Butter to taste
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and generously butter a small baking dish.
- Cut the corn off the cob by slicing off the tops of the kernels then scraping the cob to collect all the milky part of the corn.
- In a bowl, gradually add cream to the corn until it forms a soft batter.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour into the baking dish, and add bits of butter to the top if desired.
- Bake for an hour or until the mixture is solid, which you can test for by jiggling the bowl.