A Thanksgiving Favorite Almost Lost To History

Old Sturbridge Village


I spent many years as an educator at Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum in Massachusetts. It shows New England life in a rural town in the 1830’s and is open year round. At that time, Thanksgiving Day was set  by the Governor of each state. It was not declared a National Holiday until Abraham Lincoln’s presidency in the dark days of the Civil War. 

Imagine the baking and preparations that were made to get ready for this most important day! Old and young alike had thoughts about the marvelous and rich Marlborough Pie that was only made a few times of year. The recipe is very old and came over from England and like most, was subject to changes as each baker thought HER recipe was the best. It is very sad to have had it go out of favor and for reasons unknown. I would call this a lemon apple custard and it is so rich that a very small slice will do very nicely.

Google search “Marlborough Pudding” to get recipes and more history. I loved sippitysup’s blog about it and thank him for the use of his image.

 The following recipe was the one we used in the kitchens at Old Sturbridge Village. It is given to you with their hearty wishes for a Good Thanksgiving and the hopes that you will come to visit a this New England historical treasure.

Marlborough Pudding

One of our most requested recipes is this one for Marlborough Pudding, which is reproduced here for your own enjoyment and taken from Amelia Simmons’ “American Cookery” (1796).

Original Recipe

Take 12 spoons of stewed apples, 12 of wine, 12 of sugar, 12 of melted butter, and 12 of beaten eggs, a little cream, spice to your taste; lay in paste No. 3, in a deep dish; bake one hour and a quarter.

Modern Adaptation

6 tablespoons butter
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup stewed, pureed apples
3/4 cup sherry
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1/2 recipe for pie crust
2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (or to taste)

1. Melt butter and set aside to cool.
2. Squeeze lemon and remove seeds.
3. Add lemon to stewed apples, sherry, cream, and sugar and mix well.
4. Add melted butter to mixture, blending well.
5. Beat eggs and add to mixture.
6. Prepare pastry and line deep, 8-inch pie plate.
7. Season with grated nutmeg and spoon mixture into prepared pie plate.
8. Bake 15 minutes at 400°F. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake 45 minutes more or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before serving.

Hearth Method

1. Using a redware bowl over hot coals, melt the butter and set aside to cool.
2. Follow Steps 2-7 in the Modern Method recipe.
3. Bake 1 hour in hot bake-oven, or preheated Dutch oven, with coals on lid and below.

Yield: one 8-inch deep dish pie



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