All I want for Christmas

For Stir-Up Sunday, here are some early Christmas recipes. The first is for plum pudding; Christmas pudding probably didn’t make an appearance as a name until Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families in 1845.

The first is probably late seventeenth century:

Recipe for plum pudding

Image © Wellcome Collection

To make a good Bakt plum pudding, Ann Porter

Take 2 penyworth of white bread and slice it, boyle a quart of milk & put it hot over the bread, when it tis pritty coole then put a pound of suet cut very small take 6 egges leave out 2 whites, half a pound currants & one nutmagg greated sweeten it to your taste if you please you may add half a pd of raisons alsoe, Butter the dish & let it bee well bakt be sure not to wett the bread to much when puddings are to limber the fruit goes to the Bottom, no flower must be put to these puddings nor the almond ones. (Wellcome Collection, MS MSL2)

Here’s another one, although from adjacent evidence this dates to the 1870s:

Recipe for plum pudding

Image © Wellcome Collection

1lb Raisins

1lb Currants

1lb Suet

1lb Flour

1lb Bread Crumbs

2 oz Blanched Sweet Almonds

2 oz Candid Lemon

2 oz Candid Orange

2 oz Candid Citron 1/2 a Nutmeg

a blade or two of Mace

1/4 lb Lump Sugar

a little salt     10 Eggs

1/2 pt Cream

1/2 a gill of Brandy (Wellcome Collection, MS 7892)

Turning to mince pies, here’s a recipe for the pastry, from the Dropmore Papers in the eighteenth century:

a pound of fine flour a quarter of a pd of double refin’d sugar, sifted, beat the yolks of two eggs with two spoonfuls of sack, take half a pound of butter melt it, and let it stand till it is cold, then mix it with the eggs &c and make your past, set it by the fire to rise Butter and flour your pans the oven must not be very hot (British Library, Add MS 69409)

Here is ‘A receipt to make mince pyes as they are made at Easthampstead [House]’, from an early eighteenth-century recipe book in the Trumbull Papers (note the unexpected ingredient to modern tastes):

Take two pound of neats tongue, three pound of suet, three pound of currants, one pound of ston’d raisins shread, half an ounce of spice cloves mace & nutmeg, the peel of four lemons grat’d, salt & sugar to your tast, about a dozen of pippins hack’d, some candied orange lemon & citron, a large wine glass of vinegar with the juice of half a lemon & half a civil [Seville] orange, a pint of white wine & half a pint of sack, Mix these ingredients well together & put them down close in a pot. (British Library, Add MS 72619)

And finally, another recipe for mincemeat, this time including an unspecified meat (other recipes suggest beef or veal) and probably again from the late seventeenth century:

Recipe for mince pies

Image © Wellcome Collection

Shread 2 pound of meat with 3 pound of suet season it with A quarter of an ounce of cloves & mace, halfe as much Cinnamon, one large nutmeg, halfe A pound of Candid orange, lemmon & cittron sliced, 2 pippins shread, halfe A pound of Shugar, A glas of Sack the juce of 3 lemons or verjuce; 2 or 3 pound of fruit; with all thease mixed fill the pyes. (Wellcome Collection, MS 7997)


5 thoughts on “All I want for Christmas

  1. Your Blog is so interesting I am really enjoying reading it. I have just started a challenge doing as many of Eliza Actons Recipes as is possible in two years from her 1855 cookery book which I have, she really is very inspiring. I want to ask if you know what bitter almonds are they are mentioned frequently in the Almond recipes I am doing, as I am doing it all alphabetically and the only reference I can find was on a link about Arsnic. Sorry about the spelling it goes to pot with my keyboard sometimes! 🙂

    best wishes


  2. Pingback: When life gives you lemons… | Travels and travails in 18th-century England

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