Large pint of strained squash or pumpkin
1 qt. milk, boiled
2 c. sugar
2-4 saltine crackers, crumbled to powder
1 tsp. salt
Few drops lemon extract or rose water
1/2 tsp. ginger or ground cinnamon
1-2 tbs. butter
Pie crust (bottom layer only)
To a quart of boiled milk, put a large pint of strained squash, two cups of sugar, three eggs, two crackers pounded and sifted (or four eggs without the crackers), a teaspoonful of salt, a few drops of lemon or rose, half a teaspoonful of ginger or powdered cinnamon, and a dessert-spoonful of butter, melted in the hot milk. To mix it, stir the spice and salt into the strained squash first, then add the cracker, and sugar, and when these are mixed, pour in half the milk, and when this is well stirred, add the remainder, and lastly the eggs, which should be thoroughly beaten. If you make up two quarts of milk, use four eggs, and five pounded crackers, and double the other ingredients. Bake with a crust, in rather deep plates, or in dishes made for such pies.
From The Young Housekeeper’s Friend by Mrs. [M. H.] Cornelius, 1863
Comment: Ah, that delight of 19th century cookbooks, the idiosyncratic measurement! “A dessert-spoon of butter” was a quantity determined by how big your dessert-spoons were as well as the temperature of the butter: if melted it would be a level spoonful, if hardened it could heap up as high as the cook’s heart desired. We list the butter at 1-2 tablespoons modern measurement but feel free to vary this in either direction as seems appropriate.
The fact that Mrs. Cornelius called this simply “Squash or Pumpkin” reflects the reality that in her day this basic recipe could be used as a pudding, a parfait, or a custard just as readily as a pie. The primary difference was the method of serving: in a crust it was a pie; in a small dish a custard, in a large bowl a pudding, and in a cup or goblet with beaten egg white or cream on top, a parfait. We must admit a probably irrational preference for the pie form, but that’s just us.