Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Pudding

When we think of a Victorian Christmas dinner the first image to come to mind is a large platter featuring a perfectly cooked Christmas goose. However, many rural families instead served beef or chicken. The one thing though, that every family did have was the Christmas pudding.

Sometimes known as plum pudding or plum duff, it was not an actual milk-based pudding like we think of today. Pudding was an old word for foods boiled or steamed in a bag. Plum referred to the sweet bits of raisins in the pudding.

The origins of plum pudding date back to Medieval times and was prepared on Stir-up Sunday, the Sunday before Advent. Originally the pudding was prepared with thirteen ingredients for Christ and the twelve Apostles. Primarily made of suet, bread crumbs, raisins, sugar and spices, the making of the Christmas pudding was a family event.

Each person took a turn stirring and made a wish for good luck. Some sources mentioned the pudding was stirred clockwise and another said east to west, in honor of the Magi who traveled in that direction. Either way, after the stirring was done a ring, coin or thimble was tossed into the batter.

Next the pudding was packed into a cloth bag and hung until Christmas day. Then it was boiled in beef broth for four to eight hours. After dinner it was turned onto a platter and sprig of holly was placed on top. It was then coated with brandy, set alight and carried to the table.

The head of the household sliced and served the pudding and gave a blessing for all who prepared it. Biting into the portion, a person found the ring it meant marriage.

A coin promised wealth and the thimble, a happy but single life.

There seem to be as many recipes for Christmas pudding as there are internet sites, but this seemed to be the oldest I found, though if I were going to try making it, I would probably use one of the modern one.

"The American Domestic Cook Book For 1868"

Plum Pudding - Take half a pound of flour, half a pound of raisins, stoned and chopped, and some currants washed picked and dried; use milk enough to stir easily with a spoon; add half a pound of suet chopped fine, a teaspoonful of salt, and four well beaten eggs; tie it in a floured cloth, and boil four hours. The water must boil when you put it in, and continue boiling until it is done.


After a magical waltz in a winter wonderland with the only man who has ever made her believe she is beautiful, Madeline Winthrop doesn't think life could be anymore perfect--until the night of the Christmas ball when she learns everything James Sullivan has told her is a lie.
Revenge against Madeline's brother forces James to do what ever is necessary to get back what was stolen from him, even if he has to use Madeline to do it. But the one thing he doesn't count on is the way she makes him feel.

He pulled away, and she blinked up at him in a daze. His chest rose and fell as his breath escaped his parted lips in wispy clouds. He shook his head and smiled. “Ye are not clumsy, Maddy. And when ye are in me arms, ye’ll glide around the room like a swan.”

Her heart leapt. “Oh, James, it sounds so wonderful, but...”
“We’ll dance all night. I’ll not be giving ye up to anyone else.”
“People will talk.”
“Let them talk. I want to marry ye.”
Madeline gaped at him stunned. Surely he was teasing. “But I’ve known you less than two weeks.”
“Marry me, Maddy, and we’ll dance every night for the rest o’ our lives.”
James offered her a lifetime with his smile, and because she ached so desperately to believe he loved her, she said yes.

ANOTHER WALTZ NEW RELEASE (Victorian Holiday Novella)


  1. Anna Kathryn, thank you for that story of Christmas pudding. I've never eaten it, have you? Interesting to know the early traditions. I had no idea why it was made a certain way. You are always so creative with your posts and they are always a pleasure to read.

  2. Sorry, Kathy, I meant to use your name instead of Anna Kathryn's. The holiday rush has fried my brain.

  3. Kathy--plum pudding sounds much like fruitcake--that's how I always thought of it. But suet--uhuh-none of that in my plum pudding--if I ever made one. But I suppose the suet provides the butter or oil that we might add. I'd like to see one set ablaze.
    Thanks for the lesson on traditions--I never knew any of that. Very interesting.
    And your book sound good--as all yours are. Good luck!

  4. Hi Caroline,
    I totally understand. You're looking at someone who almost put diesel fuel in their car. A name mix-up is nothing. :)

  5. Hi Celia,
    There are so many recipes on line for Christmas Pudding and I'm sure there is a more modern one without all that suet. It would be fun to set it on fire.

  6. Kathy, thanks for sharing your interesting research on plum pudding. I have to agree with Celia, no suet for me, but otherwise it sounds yummy. So does your book. :)


  7. Kathy, I really enjoyed your excerpt. This looks like another good story, my friend! Oh, that in the world did people eat such things and ENJOY it????LOLLOL But you're right, it would be fun to set on fire, wouldn't it? I've always wanted to set something on fire and carry it to the table--besides my birthday cake. LOL

  8. Great post, Kathy! I've always thought this sounded good except for the suet. But I know in days of yore, nothing was wasted. And yeah, it's probably akin to today's olive oil or shortening.

    I'm not much of a cook, so I doubt I'd try this on my own...but as a gramma, I might make one with the little guys some day. They'd sure go for the light-up routine LOL.

    God bless your releases! xo

  9. Great post, Kathy!

    It was wonderful to learn of the Christmas pudding tradition. I knew a little about it, but now I've got the full story. Thank you!

    Best of luck on your release!


  10. Hi Lyn,
    I remember my dad mixing up suet and sunflower seeds and packing into one of those net bags to hang from the tree for the birds. To me that's what Christmas pudding reminds me of. Though I suppose it's no different than cooking with lard.

  11. Cheryl,
    I suppose you could serve crepe suzette instead of birthday cake.
    And thanks for your kind words.

  12. Tanya,
    I'll probably never make it, but maybe one day a character in a book might. I'll just have to savor the delectible texture of boiled suet through their palate.

  13. It really is interesting hearing about what was tradition as far as meals went. Since they didn't know any different, I suppose they would think this recipe was great. I can't imagine many people liking it today. Thanks for sharing it.

    Best of luck with lots of sales on your book.

  14. Great post. The book looks great!

  15. Hi Paisley,
    No, I can't imagine anyone eating plum pudding today, at least not the way the Victorians prepared it. It might be fun to try it with a more modern recipe.

  16. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a complement. Appreciate it.

  17. Kathy,Plum pudding doesn't sound like something I'd call a treat! LOL From my info on sugar plums I understand the plum part- dried fruit in the mix.

    Merry Christmas!

  18. Hi Paty,
    Plum pudding doesn't sound like a treat to me either, but I guess it was a favorite back then. I'd guess it's right up there with Haggis as love it or hate it kind of food.


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