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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Herstoryan's Hearth: The Trinity Christmas Plum-pudding (1847)

Excerpt: Dods, Mistress Margaret . The Cook and Housewife's Manual: A Practical System of Modern Domestic Cookery and Family Management; Containing a Compendium of French Cookery, and of Fashionable Confectionary, Preparations for Invalids and Convalescents, a Selection of Cheap Dishes and Numerous Useful Miscellaneous Receipts in the Various Branches of Domestic Economy. Eighth ed. London: Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh. Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., 1847. p 475

The Trinity Christmas Plum-pudding.
[We have had the felicity, on sundry Merry Christmases, of sitting in the blaze of the " Yule-clog," embowered among evergreens at " a good man's feast," who well understood, and himself looked, to the due concoction and boiling of the pudding of his nation, weighing from some twenty-five to thirty pounds. For it we give his receipt, which we need not say is excellent; proved and approved.]
The Trinity Christmas Pudding. — Three pounds raisins, half Muscatel and half Valentia, three pounds currants, three pounds beef suet chopped very fine, sixty eggs, a pint and a half of milk, three pounds best raw sugar, the rind of six lemons minced very small, four pounds of fine flour, a half-pound treacle, four nutmegs grated, and cinnamon and cloves pounded to taste; one large table-spoonful of salt, two wine-glasses of brandy, two of rum, one of Port; of sliced candied orange and lemon-peel; half-ounce each, citron-peel a half-ounce. The whole must be thoroughly well mixed early on the 24th December, and boiled for ten hours on Christmas Eve, and four hours on Christmas Day, or from leaving chapel till dinner-time, taking care the whole time to keep the boiler filled with boiling water, and the fire strong and constant. Farther, in preparing for the boiler, the cloth, first scalded, afterwards squeezed, is put on the dresser and well dredged with flour, and then placed very evenly over a colander, so that it shall be in the middle of it. The pudding is then put into the cloth, being well stirred up, a person plaiting the cloth so that it shall be evenly taken up that no water shall get into it. It must then be excessively well tied up, allowing some room for the pudding swelling, and boiled. The Christmas Pudding should be served up with a sprig of arbutus stuck in the middle, with one of its red berries, and a sprig of variegated holly with one or two berries on each side of it. This is to keep away the witches.

LOL, I didn't expect that last sentence! I must confess I have never had the pleasure (or punishment) of partaking in the preparation or polishing off of plum pudding. Instead of spending a fortune on all the above ingredients (How did they afford this back then?) and boiling the concoction for 14 hours overnight and on Christmas Day, I'll check my favorite British Market's website and click 'n' ship. 


  1. Here is a direct link to the plum-pudding on the British Market website. It took me awhile to find it. I just learned it is more commonly known nowadays as Christmas pudding:

    Anyone know why it is called "plum" pudding if it doesn't have plums in it?

  2. Sixty Eggs? And what is treacle? I love Plum Pudding and bought myself one this year. Haven't had one in a long time because nobody but me likes it. They don't know what they're missing!

  3. That's amazing! I have never known exactly how it is prepared before. I agree with you. How did they afford all that "stuff"!

  4. Amazing! It's not just a question of affording all the ingredients (this couldn't have been among the "selection of cheap dishes" in the book), but imagine the time it would take to prepare it -- not including the cooking time! I wonder how long it would take just to grate 4 whole nutmegs.
    My ggrandmother grew up in Yorkshire in the 1850s. I wonder if this was a treat she ever enjoyed.
    Thanks for the post.

  5. I had to laugh at myself. My immediate reaction was to reduce the ingredients to a tenth -- 6 eggs is do-able. By the time I got to the glasses of wine, I said, OMG just put in the whole bunch of wine --- Now if I really go off the deep end, I may fix this for next Christmas --- or we could do a group Plum pudding.

    Thanks for a great read and recipe.