A Steamed Pudding is a mixture that you put into a bowl, and steam in a water bath. In many very early receipts you find them, both savory and sweet. By the 17th Century, meat was eliminated from the recipe in favor of more sweets and it was sprinkled with brandy, then set aflame when served to guests.

The most famous steamed pudding we think about this time of year is the Christmas — or Plum — Puddings, made dense by all the fruit and nuts in them.  This is not your fruitcake type food. Many of the same components, yet so much better.

Definition of “plum” in the Oxford English Dictionary
A dried grape or raisin as used for puddings, cakes, etc. This use probably arose from the substitution of raisins for dried plums or prunes as an ingredient in plum-broth, porridge, etc., with retention of the name ‘plum’ for the substituted article.” The OED then goes on to list occurrences of this use in literature. Samuel Johnson defined a “plum” as “raisin; grape dried in the sun.”

The Puritans banned plum pudding during the second half of the 17th Century as an unfit custom for those who followed the ways of God because of its use of alcohol. However, by 1714, King George I brought back plum pudding as part of the traditional Christmas feast despite the strong objections. The name Christmas pudding is first recorded in 1858 in a novel by Anthony Trollope.

Almost every year I make Plum Pudding in November and have it sit in the refrigerator for a month to infuse all the flavors I have added. Come Christmas Day, it is served with a hot lemon sauce.

To get into the spirit of things I draped my tin chandler with a fake garland, no bugs in my pudding, thank you, and I put on some Christmas music. Then I put out what I need, chopped bread as my base for the pudding, to which I will add all the other ingredients.

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 I love to fill the pudding with candy citron, lemon and orange peels, raisin of the sun, dates, orange preserves and many spices.

I mixed the fruit together and added it to the bread. Then white  sugars was added, along with cinnamon, mace, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg. 

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The pudding is basically a bread pudding held together with eggs. I stirred the bread mixture well before incorporating the whisked eggs.

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The grated lemon and orange peels, with some juice of both, were added to the preserves. Two sticks of melted butter were added to the bowl.


In went the juice, preserves and peels along with a 1/2 cup rum mixed with some orange flower water.

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The pudding was mixed well to make sure all the bread cubes were well covered with fruit and that it was soaked with the liquid.

I could only find one of my molds and so I decided I would use a vintage angel food pan also. I traced and cut out some parchment paper and greased the pans. The pudding was lightly packed into the forms.


The parchment paper was placed on top and the molds covered. These I put on steamer baskets and placed them on the stove. I poured water one third of the way up the sides of the molds. My steamer baskets were too high so I ended up using ring molds on the bottom and that worked very well.

I steamed the puddings for six hours then let them rest and cool before storing them in the refrigerator. Now the wait, a month has passed and Christmas Day is upon us. I will need to make my lemon sauce and then re-steam the pudding for two hour to warm it up. Then it will be served; I may even make some whipped cream. After all, there are no calories in Christmas food.

A receipt for the wonderful Pudding is posted in the receipt file. It is from The Art of Cookery, by Hanna Glass.

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Most families were served the traditional turkey for Thanksgiving and made turkey sandwiches, soup and other meals with the leftovers. We cooked an 11-pound goose for three people so we, too, had leftovers. Several days later, I was going through the freezer I found an assortment of puff pastry dough balls that must have been left over from some other baking day. The refrigerator came up with mushrooms, candied orange peels, chestnuts that I had boiled and peeled, whole cranberries, squash, part of a parsnip, and, of course, goose with gravy. The cupboard had the spices and I wanted to incorporate all of this for dinner.

Robert May, “THE ACCOMPLISH COOK, “came to mind and I thought why not try a chewit. Chewits are small, handheld pies. He uses a stiff paste of flour, butter and eggs so the chewits will stand high. This is the same receipt I use for my coffins. Having leftover puff pastry, I decided I’d use that and see what the results would be. I gathered all the ingredients on my cutting board.

The dough was frozen so I put it in a plastic bag and then into some warm water to thaw out. Okay! We are straying a bit from the 18th Century, however, this is leftovers, and I need to clean out the fridge and freezer. While the dough thawed, I cut up the goose meat, chestnuts, mushrooms, and grated the spices.

Next I started pinching the dough to make a bowl shape with high sides. Then I mixed the goose with the cut mushrooms and chestnut mixture and added the cranberries and orange peels.

The chewits need a lid, so I rolled small dough balls and then stretched them to fit. In went the filling.

I added leftover goose gravy and wet the edge of the chewit with a beaten egg so the lid would stick.

I pinched the edges together and rolled them in and pinched again to seal in the mixture. I must have had two differently-made puff pastries as only two of the chewits came out nice and high.

Having read somewhere about wrapping parchment paper around chewits, I decided to try it on the nice tall ones. Then off to the fireplace with the whole lot, and into the bake kettle.

I took the squash and parsnip that were left over and put those by the fire with a bit of water first, then oil and spices, for a side dish. Every 15 minutes I turned the covered bake kettle for a more even heat.

Now several interesting things happened. Not surprisingly the chewits without the parchment paper spread out, puffed and browned as expected. The papered ones were tall and not browned on the sides yet not raw dough either. I only put gravy in the non-papered ones, so this might be a reason they were not as high. I think I should have papered those instead. We only ate two of them and I must say they were tasty leftovers. And the other two were sent to my daughter’s house for her lunch.

All in all, it was an experiment using leftovers as they did in Robert Mays’ time and using what I had on hand. Next year I will do them again and will use the stiffer crust and bake them in a bake oven.

Hope all your leftovers were delicious!!


PS. The next blog I promise to keep with the 18th Century way of the colonial table.      However sometimes a cook just has to have fun!