“In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.” — A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 1843.
A 19th century Christmas feast would not be complete without a Christmas pudding. Comprised of dried fruit, suet, egg, flour, and other basic ingredients, it was a popular holiday dish in both the Regency and Victorian eras. Naturally, there are many historical recipes available for such an old favorite, but when looking for the simplest, and the best, you need search no further than Mrs. Beeton’s 1861 Book of Household Management. Below is what Mrs. Beeton refers to as “A Plain Christmas Pudding for Children.” It is the most basic historical Christmas pudding recipe I could find and perfect for those of us whose only experience with cooking a Christmas pudding comes from reading about Mrs. Cratchit fretting over the copper in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
If you find the above children’s recipe too basic, Mrs. Beeton also provides the traditional recipe for Christmas Plum Pudding – complete with brandy. This pudding is much more similar to the type served by Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy holiday with your own families (both human and animal!). I leave you with an image of the very first commercially produced Christmas card, introduced by Sir Henry Cole in 1843:
Top image: Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball, etching by John Leech from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 1843.
This post originally appeared on mimimatthews.com and is reprinted here with permission.
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Mimi Matthews is the author of The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries (to be published by Pen and Sword Books in late 2017). Her articles on nineteenth-century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney with both a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She resides in California with her family – which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.