Plum Pudding

copy-of-plum-pudding-time-0_01_2418
This is a wonderful variation of a plum pudding called hunter’s pudding that uses raisins for the plum. This dish was popular from the mid-18th century to the 20th century, found in British cookbooks and also popular in colonial America. Plum puddings were often associated with special occasions, served during certain holidays or when visitors came to visit. A hunter’s pudding was likely reserved for various special occasions such as a formal hunt, but that’s not to say ordinary people didn’t enjoy a hunter’s pudding on occasion. This recipe comes from “The Lady’s Assistant”, a 1775 cookbook published from Charlotte Mason’s manuscripts. This is a half batch, so if you want to make a full size batch, all you’ll need is double the ingredients and add an hour to the cooking time.

  • ½ lb. Flour
  • ½ lb. Suet (Kidney Fat)
  • ½ lb. Currants (dried, seedless, Corinthian Grapes)
  • 4 oz. Raisins
  • 2 tbsp. Candied Orange Peel
  • 2 tbsp. Candied Citron
  • 1 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 3-4 tbsp. Brandy
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup Cream

copy-of-plum-pudding-time-0_01_4401Preparing this pudding’s going to be very easy. We’re just going to add all of our dry ingredients plus our sweetmeats and mix well. Next whisk your eggs together in a separate bowl then combine your cream and brandy with the eggs. Once those are completely mixed, add them to your dry ingredients. This should make a pretty thick paste.copy-of-plum-pudding-time-0_05_3421

Now when you’re going to boil a pudding, there are a few things you have to have ready to go. You need a couple of pots of water boiling. copy-of-plum-pudding-time-0_01_0716
A large one will be for boiling the pudding itself. The smaller pot will be used to refill the water as it boils away in the larger one. You’ll also need a clean piece of cloth for each of the puddings you’re going to boil. copy-of-plum-pudding-time-0_06_0601Linen makes a really good pudding cloth, because the water makes the fibers swell up and the weave even tighter. You can also use cotton osnaburg. You’ll also need a stout cord to tie the cloth off with.

copy-of-plum-pudding-time-0_06_2420
Put your cloth into your boiling water for a few minutes to scald, then dust the pudding side with flour and lay in a bowl. Place your pudding dough into the cloth then tie the bag tightly around the dough. copy-of-plum-pudding-time-0_06_3815
Place your pudding into the boiling water for 3 hours. Make sure to only replenish this water with boiling water. You want this water to not stop boiling at any time, because that will increase your cooking time.

Once your pudding has finished boiling, you will want to dip it in cold water for a few seconds to make it easier to remove the cloth without damaging the surface of your pudding.

copy-of-plum-pudding-time-0_04_0611
If you don’t want to spend 4 or 5 hours boiling a pudding at your next event, you can cook these ahead of time. You can cook these the week before if you leave them in their pudding cloth, then you can take them to the event. When you’re ready to use them, you can either boil them for an hour right before you need them or you can slice them cold and then either fry them or broil them.

These puddings were usually served with a sauce. The most common type is equal parts of butter, sugar, and sac.

copy-of-plum-pudding-time-0_00_1425
This pudding is very dense and rich. With all the raisins it’s very sweet. Compared to today’s palate, it was likely this would be the sweetest thing people of the 18th century would eat all year. This would make a great addition or finish to any celebration. You really should try these.

Transcript of Video:

Today I’m going to be doing something a little different. A dish that was popular all the way from the mid-18th century to the 20th century, found in British cookbooks and also popular in colonial America. We’re going to be making a hunter’s pudding. Thanks for joining us today on 18th Century Cooking with Jas Townsend and Son.

A hunter’s pudding is a type of plum pudding and a plum in this context means raisins. Plum puddings were often associated with special occasions, served during certain holidays or when visitors came to visit. The name hunter’s pudding may be a bit deceiving. We need to be careful about assuming that it was a favorite dish for backwoodsmen. Rather, a hunter’s pudding was likely a pudding that would have been reserved for various special occasions such as a formal hunt, but that’s not to say ordinary people didn’t enjoy a hunter’s pudding on occasion. Hunter’s puddings were popular from the mid 1700’s up until the beginning of the 20th century. Let’s get started.

We’re going to be making a recipe from “The Lady’s Assistant”, a 1775 cookbook published from Charlotte Mason’s manuscripts. We’re making half batches today, so if you want to make a full size batch, all you’ll need is double the ingredients. It will change the cooking time, so we’ll talk about that as we cook it, but to start, let’s look at the ingredients.

I’m using a half pound of flour and a half pound of suet. Now when I say suet, I mean kidney fat. In a previous episode, we explored the difference between suet and hard muscle fat and when it comes to making puddings, there’s a huge difference, so if you go to your butcher to ask for suet, make sure he gives you kidney fat. If you can’t find kidney fat to use or if you have neither the time nor the inclination to render it yourself, Jas Townsend and Son now carries Atora shredded suet. This suet is made from rendered kidney fat. It’s stabilized with a little flour. Because it’s rendered properly, it doesn’t need refrigerating.

In addition, we’re using a half a pound of currants. Unlike the fleshy red berries that go by the same name and are related to the gooseberry, these currants are small dried seedless Corinthian grapes. Also in our pudding we’ll be using about 4 ounces of raisins. Now raisins in the 18th century had seeds in them so they had to be cut open and seeds removed before they could be used in a recipe like this. There were different kinds of raisins in the 18th century. The best of the raisins were dried in the sun as opposed to dried in ovens. These were called raisins of the sun and most of the time they were imported in jars so they would be many times called jar raisins. The best of these raisins were called Malaga or Muscato raisins. They were grown in Spain and imported throughout much of Europe and North America. Our modern raisins are similar in quality to a midlevel jar raisin of the 18th century while having the convenience of being seedless.

Next we’re going to be adding a couple of tablespoons of candied orange peel and candied citron. Our recipe will also use about a teaspoon of nutmeg and 3-4 tablespoons of brandy. Now here’s something interesting about the addition of brandy into these puddings, it started to be added in the second half of the 18th century and in many of the recipes they find that the addition of the brandy helped in the preservation of the pudding and many times its noted that the puddings can be kept for up to 6 months if you keep the pudding still wrapped in its pudding cloth and kept up out of reach. This allowed cooks to make multiple puddings at once, serving one immediately and the others later on.

Finally, back to our recipe, we’ll need 4 eggs and 1 cup of cream. Now that’s it for the ingredients. Now that we’ve gathered them up, let’s put this pudding together.

Preparing this pudding’s going to be very easy. We’re just going to add all of our dry ingredients plus our sweetmeats.

And don’t forget to add the nutmeg.

That’s mixed quite well.

Okay, now that our dry ingredients are done, let’s move on to our wet ingredients. Let’s whisk our eggs together.

And then we’re going to add in our cream and our last wet ingredient, our brandy.

Now let’s add this to our dry ingredients.

It should make a pretty thick paste.

Now when you’re going to boil a pudding, there are a few things you have to have ready to go. You need a couple of pots of water boiling. Our large one will be for boiling the pudding itself. The smaller pot we’ll use to refill the water as the water boils away. You’ll also need a clean piece of cloth. One for each of the puddings you’re going to boil. Linen makes a really good pudding cloth. The water makes the fibers swell up and the weave even tighter. You can also use cotton osnaburg. Go ahead and scald these cloths.

You’ll also need a stout cord to tie the cloth off with. Remove the cloths from the boiling water and dust each with a little flour, then set each one aside, flour side up, into a bowl. Gather your pudding dough and place it on top of the cloth.

Tie the bag tightly around the dough.

Now it’s time to put this in the boiling water and boil it for 3 hours. You want to make sure to only replenish this water with boiling water. You want this water to not stop boiling at any time, because that will increase your cooking time.

Now like I said, this is a half size pudding. If you’re going to be doing a full size pudding, you’ll want to boil this for 4 hours.

Okay, the hunter’s pudding has boiled 3 hours. You’ll need a bucket of cold water on hand. By dipping the hot pudding in the cold water for a few seconds it will make it easier to get the cloth off without damaging the surface of your pudding.

If you don’t want to spend 4 or 5 hours boiling a pudding at your next event, you can cook these ahead of time. You can cook these the week before if you leave them in their pudding cloth, then you can take them to the event, when you’re ready to use them, you can either boil them for an hour right before you need them or you can slice them cold and then either fry them or broil them.

These puddings were usually served with a sauce and the sauce we’re using here is the most common type which is equal parts of butter, sugar, and sac.

Let’s give these a try.

And they’re a very dense and rich kind of food here. These are chalk full of raisins and they’re nice and sweet. In fact, compared to today’s palate, 18th folks were not used to such sweet things, so it’s likely that this would be the sweetest thing they would eat all year long. These would make a great addition or finish to a nice period meal and because you can fix them the week ahead of time, they’re a perfect kind of thing you can pull out of the hat and fry these up from something that’s been prepared without spending the 4 hours of boiling them at the event. You should really try these. These are wonderful dishes.

Very nice.

This recipe and many others are available on our SavoringthePast.net cooking blog. We also have an image reference blog of 17th and 18th century paintings and drawings called SiftingthePast.com. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss any upcoming episodes. And finally, our online catalog and our printed catalog that has hundreds of 18th and 19th century men’s and women’s clothing, historical cooking items, and camping items.

I want to thank you for joining us today as we savor the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in 18th Century Cooking, 19th Century Cooking, Bread, Historic Cooking, Ingredients, Video and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Plum Pudding

  1. I will definitely try this one! Thanks for the recipe and photos demonstrating it!

  2. S. D. Sallie says:

    I make this for my husband every Christmas. However he is from Scotland and this is called a Clootie Dumpling. “Cloot” being the cloth it’s boiled in. It’s actually one of Scotland’s national desserts. The spices may vary a bit and one less egg…..Colonial Scots influence?

  3. Just ordered a new linen kitchen cloth so I think this is definitely in the running for a first project for it. Though I have no doubt I will like it, we are still just going to duplicate the 17th Century Thanksgiving bunch of recipes this year. Does make me wish I had a fireplace instead of a wood stove. [Would a reflecting oven work with a wood stove? Never used one before.]

  4. I love a good plum pudding! I like to include prunes in mine to really make it “plum” pudding, though it isn’t called for. And, though I remember my mother using suet in a number of ways in the kitchen, I’m rather squeamish about it and prefer to use shredded frozen butter. Loved this post!

  5. Sailor John says:

    NOW BRING US SOME FIGGY PUDDING!

    Jon, I love your videos and this blog but there seems to be something missing, figgy pudding. Can I substitute a 1/2 pound of dried figs and make figgy pudding?

    Thank you and Merry Christmas!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s