This recipe for Christmas Pudding comes from ‘Instruction In Cookery’ by Miss E Briggs, published in 1890. This book was written for the School Board of London as a book of recipes to teach a class of students (young girls) the basics of cooking. I am using this particular recipe as an example of a late Victorian Christmas Pudding because it does not use any alcohol in it, it is therefore perfect for those who do not like the overly alcoholic (normally Brandy) nature of a traditional Christmas Pudding … in all other respects this is a classic Christmas Pudding from the 1800s.
Original Recipe For Christmas Pudding 1890
From ‘Instruction In Cookery’ by Miss E Briggs, published 1890
The recipe is to be found at the back of the book, indeed it is one of the last recipes, signifying that this was one of the more difficult recipes the girls needed to work up to during the year’s lessons.
Ingredients: 1lb. raisins (stoned); 1 lb. currants (washed and picked); 1 lb. sugar; 1/2 lb. sultanas (washed and picked); 1/2 lb mixed peel (shredded); 1/4 lb. almonds, if liked (blanched and shredded); 3/4 lb. flour; 1/4 lb. breadcrumbs; 3/4 lb. beef suet (chopped finely); 6 eggs; milk (according to size of eggs); rind of 1 lemon (grated); 1/2 teaspoonful of salt; 1 teaspoonful, or to taste, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon.
Method: Mix the whole of the ingredients very thoroughly – much depends on this; beat the eggs and milk, add them and stir it very well again. Put it into well-greased moulds or basins, cover with greased paper, tie the cloths over them, and boil from 6 to 10 hours, according to size. When the puddings are turned out the appearance is improved by dredging them with castor sugar. If they are not wanted at once, keep them in a cool, dry place.
Non-alcoholic Christmas Pudding Recipe 1890
Make this pudding and serve it within a few days, without the alcohol it will not store as long as a traditional Christmas Pudding recipe. Store it in the fridge until it is reheated.
Note: This will make one very large single Christmas Pudding in a 2 litre pudding basin, or two large puddings in a 1.2 litre pudding basin. If you only want to make one Christmas Pudding reduce each of the ingredients by half.
- 500g raisins
- 500g currants
- 500g brown sugar (demerara)
- 250g sultanas
- 250g mixed chopped candied peel
- 125g ground almonds
- 375g plain flour
- 125g breadcrumbs
- 375g shredded suet (beef or vegetarian)
- 6 eggs
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 lemon (grated zest)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp castor sugar (to decorate)
In a large mixing bowl add the suet and all the other ingredients – except for the egg, milk and sugar. Mix all of these ingredients thoroughly.
In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until frothy, then add the milk, whisk, and then add the sugar, and whisk.
Pour the whisked egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a spoon. Make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed in and there are no clumps, if the mixture is a little wet add in some extra plain flour, if a little dry add in some milk. The mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency, i.e. the mixture is not too sloppy but will drop off the spoon when tilted.
Grease a large pudding basin (or two smaller ones) and spoon the mixture in, pack it down a little, and level the surface with the back of the spoon – the level of the pudding should be about 3cm (1.5 inches) below the top (or less) of the basin. I like to use an oven-proof clear glass pudding basin so that I can see what is going on during the steaming time and how it is maturing. Cut a round, large sheet of baking parchment (or greaseproof paper) and one of foil slightly bigger so they will come down at least 10 cm (4 inches) over the sides of the basin.
Lay the baking parchment on top of the foil and fold a large pleat down the centre of both (to allow for any pudding expansion). Lay the sheets over the top of the pudding basin (foil side up) and secure around the sides with string – wrap the string around the pudding basin several times tightly and tie the string off to make sure the foil top is secured down firmly and the pudding is sealed. Trim off any excess foil and paper if it is too long. You can even make a string handle by looping it over the top and tying it off under the string going around the basin.
Stand the pudding basin in a deep saucepan (which has a tight fitting lid) on an upturned heatproof plate (or metal bars etc.) to raise it off the bottom of the saucepan – add a little water under the plate to get rid of any air pockets. Pour in boiling water to come just under half way up the side of the pudding basin.
Keep the water at a medium simmer and a gentle bubble, cover with a tight fitting lid and steam for 7 or 8 hours, topping up with boiling water from time to time. It is important to keep checking the level of the water so that it does not run dry.
After the allotted time spent steaming remove the pudding basin from the steamer or saucepan and allow to cool. When cool take off and replace the foil and greaseproof paper top with some fresh sheets and re-secure and seal. Store in a cool dark place until Christmas Day.
On Christmas Day you will need to reheat the Christmas Pudding by steaming as before for 2 to 3 hours. Then remove and uncover the pudding basin, carefully turn the Christmas Pudding out onto a serving plate and remove the paper disc. Sprinkle over some castor sugar.
Serve the Christmas Pudding with Vanilla Custard.
Note: If setting the pudding alight it is often best to use a metal tray or plate with a lip to sit the pudding on and contain the lighted brandy as it is poured over … add a small sprig of holly with berries into the top of the pudding and take the pudding to the table, (it is better to light the pudding at the table rather than carrying it in).
In a small saucepan warm some brandy and vodka, (the vodka ads a higher alcohol volume to increase the time of burning). Gently heat it through so that it is steaming. Using a lighted taper light the rising vapours in the saucepan, dim the lights and pour the lighted brandy and vodka over and around the pudding – it will only remain alight for a short time, then cut into the pudding.