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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About Sandie

Since I was a small child I have loved early fireplaces and the smell of smoke in an old house. However it was not until about Fifteen years ago that my journey into hearth cooking began. It all started at the Hurd House Museum in Woodbury Ct. I was the director of the Junior Docent program and among the programs each week we cooked. At about the same time a group of us started the Culinary Historians of Connecticut meeting once a month to discuss equipment used, receipt (18th century term for recipe), and anything between the late 1600 to late 1700 that had to do with hearth cooking. We were fortunate to try our hand at cooking at several Museums throughout Ct and many more private homes. We made cheese; we held a late 1600 dinner and shared our knowledge with others. Our group designrd our own tours such as the Kitchens of Old Wethersfield. In 2000 we were delighted to host the Historic Foodways group of ALFAM at the Hurd House during their conference at Mystic Seaport. We put together a great workshop of Puddings, Sausages, Brown Bread, Beverages you name it we offered it. I am now a member of the ALFAM foodways group. Then it was off to Colonial Williamsburg for the seminar The Art of 18th-Century Cooking: Farm to Hearth to Table. During the years I joined many workshops in Sturbridge Village plus their Dinner in a Country Village and breakfast at the Freeman Farm. So I was pretty much hooked on heart cooking and the 18th century way of life. I joined a wonderful group of ladies and we started the “Hive” a place to improve and grow your 18th century impression and offer research about material culture in 17070’s New England. We also travel with friends and have displays of clothing and teas at Museums in Massachusetts. Many events are held at the Hartwell Tavern at Minute Man National Park. They have been gracious enough to let us play there and entertain and share our knowledge with their visitors. Please visit our “Hive” site if the 1700 interest you. Then the move to New Hampshire and a job at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth as the co-coordinator of the Junior Role Playing workshop and eventually cooking in front of the hearth at the Wheelwright house. Not only did I enjoy making my evening meals at the hearth to take home but also talking with the visitors. I am an entertainer after all, check out my program page. Most recently I am working at the Museum of Old York in Maine as an educator, hearth cook and organizer of the Junior Docent cooking program in the summer. See some photos in the archive file Because I do make food with the docents and serve food to the public at our Tavern Dinners I took the National Restaurant Association tests called ServSafe and now have my Certification as a Restaurant Manager. I look forward to the Museum of Old York opening again this March 2012 and getting back to the hearth and teaching, however for now I’m cooking at home and enjoying doing so.

3 thoughts on “STEAMED PUDDING

  1. This is just in time for the cool days of winter. What else better than having pudding to warm the cockles of the heart.
    Keep these recipes coming. Have a warm winter.
    Looking forward to many more good things to have. Joan

  2. I LOVE to make steamed puddings. I just wish I had not been so busy that I forgot to do one for Christmas. Maybe we will have an epiphany pudding. A VERY Merry Christmas to you, too!

    Pat McMillion

  3. That seems to me like one of the best ways to stay healthy , happy, and warm for sure..Enjoy the Christmas Holidays

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