This recipe was the winner of our We ♥ Local Cornmeal recipe contest and was submitted by April Howard. April says,"This is such a delicious, old-fashioned recipe, hearty and spicy, but not so common in today's landscape of fancy desserts. Many folks remember it, and will love to taste it again. It is good for dessert and for a sweet breakfast."
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish.
Combine all ingredients except the butter and raisins (if using) in heavy large saucepan. Whisk over medium-high heat until the pudding thickens but can still be poured, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter and raisins (if using).
Transfer to baking dish. Bake until browned and center is set when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Scoop warm pudding into bowls and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.