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.


Works Referenced or Cited in this Article

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.


 © 2015 Mimi Matthews

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21 thoughts on “Authentic Victorian Christmas Pudding

  1. Lucy says:

    Merry Christmas, Mimi! 🙂 I adore Christmas pudding, it’s probably my favourite dessert, although I may not feel that way if it were eaten all year round. I also love the idea of possibly one of the most heavy desserts of the year being eaten after the heaviest dinner, it makes no sense but who cares!? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Merry Christmas to you too, Lucy 🙂 And you’re so right about the heaviest dessert with the heaviest dinner. I always feel that way at Thanksgiving. By the time dessert comes, everyone is already stuffed!

      Liked by 1 person

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