Mimi MatthewsMimi Matthews

Authentic Victorian Christmas Pudding

“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.

Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball Hand colored etching by John Leech from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 1843.

Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball, etching by John Leech from 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.

Recipe for Christmas Pudding from Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861.

Recipe for Christmas Pudding from Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861.

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.

Recipe for Christmas Plum-Pudding from Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861.

Recipe for Christmas Plum-Pudding from Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861.

I will be taking off the week to spend the holiday with my family and, as a result, there will be no Animals in Literature and History post this week.  I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy holiday with your own families (both human and animal!).  If you would like to keep up with me, I will be continuing to update my Twitter and Facebook page with lots of 19th century images and info.  You can find me at the links below.  Do stop by and say hello!  Meanwhile, I leave you with an image of the very first commercially produced Christmas card, introduced by Sir Henry Cole in 1843.

The first commercially produced Christmas card, 1843.

The First Commercially produced Christmas card, 1843.


Sources

Beeton, Isabella. Ed. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. London: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1861.

Dickens, Charles.  A Christmas Carol in Prose Being a Ghost Story of Christmas.  London: Chapman & Hall, 1845.

About Mimi Matthews

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library JournalPublishers Weekly, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

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Mimi’s books are also available at Penguin Random House, IndieBound and Powell’s, and at Amazon in the UK, Australia, and Canada.

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