Christmas Plum Pudding

The 'Christmas' Plum Pudding during the Victorian Era became distinguished from the centuries old plum puddings. It contained rich ingredients, and many were served flaming. A few cookbook authors, such as the British chef Soyer, had a seperate Christmas section. Most cookbooks gave several plum pudding recipes, Beeton detailed seven. Some American authors named one of the regular plum puddings "English". The White House Cook Book of 1887 listed English Plum Pudding (The Genuine), Christmas Plum-Pudding (By Measure), Baked Plum-Pudding, and Plum-Pudding, without eggs; and the Buckeye Cookbook contained: Christmas Plum Pudding, Eggless, Half Batch, Iced, Plum Pudding, and English Plum Pudding. They were either boiled in cloth or steamed in a tin or other mold and not to be confused with the baked fruit cakes which were also included in various cookbooks.
Many Christmas Plum Puddings were differentiated from the other plum puddings in that they were decorated with holly sprigs, covered with brandy, and set on fire. According to the venerable Victorian cookbook author Isabella Beeton: ... "The day it is to be eaten, plunge it into boiling water, and keep it boiling for at least 2 hours; then turn it out of the mould, and serve with brandy-sauce. On Christmas-day a sprig of holly is usually placed in the middle of the pudding, and about a wineglassful of brandy poured round it, which, at the moment of serving, is lighted, and the pudding thus brought to table encircled in flame."
In Dickens' A Christmas Carol 1843, "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 or half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top".


Hammond, Elizabeth. Modern domestic cookery. London: 1819
The New Monthly Magazine. London 1822 Reflections on Plum Pudding.
The Family Magazine. Boston. 1837
Acton, Eliza. Modern Cookery... revised...for American Housekeepers by Mrs. S. J. Hale. Phila: 1845 Cottage Christmas pudding [and in the London edition]
Mrs. Putnam's Receipt Book. Boston: 1849 A very nice Christmas Pudding. set brandy on fire
Christmas Plum Pudding Recipes Godey's Lady's Book. Dec. 1860
Beeton. Book of Household Management . 1861. Christmas Plum-pudding #1328 & A Plain Christmas pudding for Children #1327
Beeton. Book of Household Management. 1923
Dr. Chase's recipes, or, Information for everybody. An invaluable collection of about six hundred practical recipes... 1860.
Croly, Jane. Jennie June's American Cookery Book. 1870
Godey's Lady's Book Receipts. Phila. 1870 Soyers - fire, other
Wilcox, Estele Woods. Buckeye Cookery. 1877
Lincoln, Mary. Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book. 1884
Hearn, Lafcadio. La Cuisine Creole. 1885
Corson, Juliet. Miss Corson's Practical American Cookery. 1886
Gillette, F. L. White House Cook Book. 1887
Shuman, Carrie V. Favorite Dishes. 1893
Curtis, Isabel. The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cook Book. 1909
Williams, Martha. Dishes and Beverages of the Old South. 1913


Christmas Pudding. Dr. Alice Ross
The Christmas Pudding.
History. Food timeline

Pictures of Sue Latini making a Plum Pudding at the Flag House
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©2006 Patricia Bixler Reber