Squash Custard

Or cream pudding, if you want to nitpick. But I don’t.

This recipe is really quite a bit like the one from 1845’s The New England Economical Housekeeper and Family Receipt Book by Esther Allen Howland:

117. Squash Pudding.


Run your stewed squash through a sieve; take four eggs, 1 pint of milk; sweeten it thoroughly; add a little rose-water and cinnamon. Make a good paste, and pour the above ingredients into a deep pudding dish.


Implicit in the above is that you’d cook these ingredients on the stovetop until they reached the right consistency (“make a good paste”). So is it a pudding, or a custard?

Acorn squash by janeyhenning, on Flickr (CC license) (cropped)

Well, it depends on how you look at it. Historically speaking, we haven’t been especially careful about using one term or the other, but in modern cooking, a custard is thickened with eggs, and a pudding is thickened with starch. But hybrids exist; in the post for Yesterdish’s eclairs, we talked about pastry cream, which is a custard base thickened with starch. Typically, those hybrids are called cream puddings.

Here’s the rub: while summer squashes like zucchini are low in starch, winter squashes, like butternut, acorn, and pumpkin, are mostly starch–about 75 percent carbohydrates, most of it starch. So a squash custard is inherently a cream pudding, because it’s a custard base to which starch is added.

This also means that you likely have a great deal of experience with squash cream puddings, because that describes the filling of a pumpkin pie. (While many recipes call for sweetened condensed milk, you absolutely don’t need it–just increase the eggs to compensate.)

From a box sold in Winsted, Connecticut.

Squash Custard

4 cups squash
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 cups sweet milk, hot
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon, or 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. ginger

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