Day 358: Christmas Drop Cakes

Hanging the Stockings - an illustration from 1898

Hanging the Stockings – an illustration from an 1898 edition of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Sometimes people wonder why I don’t plan out what I’m going to make for the entire year or even for a week. The main reason is life. Sometimes things happen that prevent me from making what I think I want to make on a particular day. Today I’d planned to make something to accompany our Christmas Eve meal of appetizers. Instead I got so busy heating all the little bites that I completely forgot to make the recipe. So instead I’m going to try a recipe from the 1898 New Galt Cook Book that fits the evening even better. It’s serendipity! After all tonight is the night that Santa visits and he needs to keep up his strength with regular doses of cookies and milk. Perhaps Mrs. Young‘s recipe for Christmas Drop Cakes in the Cookie section of the cookbook will please him.

Since I don’t have a scale here, I used the internet to find out the equivalents for this recipe. I started by softening 1/4 pound (1/2 cup) of butter. I ended up making it a bit too soft, well, really part of it was semi-liquid. This has happened to me whether I’m using a cook stove, a modern stove or the microwave. Do you think it happened to women in 1898 too? I creamed 1/2 pound (1 cup) of sugar with the butter and then added two beaten large eggs. I mixed in the 1/2 pound (1 1/2 cups) flour next. I zested more than half a lemon since I forgot it was supposed to be just half a lemon. I cut the lemon, squeezed the juice from half of it into the bowl, and stirred. Unfortunately the local town grocery store was sold out of currants so I used raisins instead since the recipe allows for some adaptation. I added 1/4 pound (1 cup) of golden raisins and was ready to start preparing the pan when I realized I’d forgotten the soda. I put 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in a small dish and added just enough hot water so the soda dissolved. I stirred it into the rest of the mixture and then dropped the batter onto greased cookie sheets. I tried to keep them to a 1/4 teaspoon size. I was surprised by the size of the recipe since it makes a small quantity. However this is offset by the tiny size of the cookies. They are very tiny little cookies so it takes a bit of time to spoon them onto the pan. I baked them at 350 F. but wasn’t sure how long to cook them. They are so small I started checking them after 5 minutes to be sure they didn’t burn. I discovered that 7 or 8 minutes was perfect. The dough turned from little blobs to flat spread out cookies. I removed them from the pan to let them cool and then it was time to sample before leaving a plate out for Santa.

Twas the Night Before Christmas - an 1898 book.

Twas the Night Before Christmas – an 1898 version.

Mrs. Young is a bit of a mystery. I know the identity of Mrs. James Young but who is Mrs. Young. There are three widows Mary, Jennie and Grace with the Young surname who are the appropriate age plus there’s Flora married to William; Christina married to Robert; and George Young’s wife Mary. Could it be Katie wife of Walter or Annie wife of William? Or is it Harriet and Albert or Annie and Henry?  I still don’t know who gets credit for this recipe. Santa Claus was already a popular Christmas gift giver and his image appeared in stores, Christmas cards, and advertisements. My father’s father born in 1890 received a book about Santa Claus as a gift when he was quite young. Twas the Night Before Christmas was already a beloved seasonal poem and books with Thomas Nast’s illustrations had clarified the appearance of Santa. I’m not sure when children learned that Santa appreciated milk and cookies.

I’m not sure what makes them Christmas but these “drop cakes” or cookies certainly are a nice change from the heavier Christmas goodies found in this cookbook. I think Santa will like these cookies. My family and I really liked them. My brother had two handfuls, my brother-in-law made appreciative sounds, and we all liked the light taste and texture combined with the hint of lemon. Although the golden raisins worked with the flavour I really should have cut them up. Currants would be better and so would peel. I’m not sure nuts would be as nice but perhaps chopped walnuts would taste good in the cookies. The tiny size makes them easy to eat and the crispy edges combined with the softer middle is cookie bliss. I think Santa will appreciate the lightness of Mrs. Young’s Christmas Drop Cakes. Hopefully he’ll leave some for the rest of us to enjoy again tomorrow.

CHRISTMAS DROP CAKES
Mrs. Young

One-half pound flour, one-half pound granulated sugar, a large quarter pound of butter, one-quarter pound currants, two eggs beaten light, juice and rated rind of half a lemon, one-quarter teaspoonful of soda (dissolved with hot water); put fruit in last. About one-quarter of a teaspoonful of batter for one cake, leave a little space between each cake. Drop on a buttered tin and bake. Peel may be used instead of fruit, also nuts.

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Day 357: Preserved Pears with Ginger

Do you ever need something extra to spice things up when preparing a holiday meal or perhaps you need a personal gift for someone who has everything? I’m hoping that Preserved Pears with Ginger will fill both needs even though I’m pushing the limits of seasonality. Pears can be stored to lengthen the season but mine are from outside Ontario. The recipe comes from the Fruit section of The New Galt Cook Book (1898) and was contributed by Mrs. James Young.

I weighed the pears to see how much sugar I would need for this recipe. I had 2 pounds of pears so I needed 1 1/2 pounds of sugar. That means I’m making half the recipe. On first reading this is a very straightforward recipe however, it turns out to be missing some key information. Nowhere does it say how much water to use with the ginger or the sugar. I had another challenge. I’m visiting my parents and it turns out their food scale is only metric that zeros to 1 kg rather than zero! I had to keep running to the computer for conversion information plus try to do the mental gymnastics required to calculate from 1 kg. It is going to be a miracle if this recipe works. I used a chunk of ginger that I hope was about 2 ounces. I peeled it and cut it into small pieces. I put the pieces in a pot and added 2 cups of water. Why two cups of water? It was my best guess as to the amount of water I would need for the sugar. I left it to boil uncovered until the ginger was tender. This took about 15 minutes and some of the water had boiled away but it had a very intense ginger flavour so I felt I was making headway.

While the ginger cooked I attempted to weigh the sugar. I think I managed to get the required 1 1/2 pounds. I put it in the pot with the water and stirred. I cut a lemon in half and set the one half away. With the other half I cut the yellow part of the lemon peel into bits and added them. Next I squeezed the juice from the lemon. I turned on the heat and let the syrup cook. My parents have a gas stove and so of course it started to boil over since it heats quickly. I let it boil for 10 minutes and then turned the heat very low. The direction to set at the back of the stove is a reminder that these recipes come from a time of wood and coal fired cook stoves.

Next I pared the pears and cut them in half lengthwise before removing the core. I put the pears in the syrup and turned the heat back up. I left them to simmer for 15 minutes. They might not be completely tender but I wanted to be cautious. The pears were quite soft to pare so I was worried I’d overcook them and they’d break apart. I put the pears and the liquid in a container but kept one aside for tasting.

Mrs. James Young is a familiar contributor to this cookbook. She is the older sister of one of the editors Fanny McNaught. Maggie McNaught was born in Scotland and came with her parents as a child to live in several Ontario communities. She eventually met and married James Young. He became a prosperous newspaper man, author and politician. Maggie herself was very engaged in the community of Galt and was even a witness in a case involving inadequate care for someone at the Waterloo County House of Refuge (the poorhouse) in nearby Berlin Ontario.

My tasters liked the preserved pears with ginger but thought they’d be even better after they sit for some time to allow the flavours to blend. My father really liked it since he likes ginger. The ginger flavour was subtle unless you bite into a piece of tender ginger. I can’t wait to try this with ice cream in a few days.

PRESERVED PEARS WITH GINGER
Mrs. James Young

To preserve pears with ginger, weigh out three-quarters of a pound of sugar to every pound of pears. Boil four ounces of whole ginger, then add four pounds of sugar and the juice of one lemon, and its yellow peel cut into thin slices, do not use any of the bitter white peel next tot he fruit. Let the syrup cook ten minutes more; then set the syrup at the back of the fire. Peel the fruit , cut each pear in half, removing the flower and core and drop it at once into the hot syrup. This will prevent their turning dark, as they certainly will if exposed to the air after they are peeled.

When you have a kettleful of the pears, cook them until tender. Fill the jars with them, place the cover over lightly, and prepare another kettleful of pears to cook in the syrup. Divide up the slices of lemon peel and pieces of ginger equally among the jars. This is a most delicious and rich preserve, and is especially nice when served like preserved ginger with ice-cream.

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Day 356: Christmas Cake

I know some of you prefer a nice dark fruitcake and I think Mrs. Richard Jaffray‘s recipe for Christmas Cake in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) might be that kind.

Ad for fruitcake ingredients in The Canadian Grocer magazine December 1898.

Ad for fruitcake ingredients in The Canadian Grocer magazine December 1898.

Since I made another fruitcake a few days ago I’m going to cut this one in half so that my family won’t hate me when I present them with three kinds of fruitcake (light, medium, and dark). Mrs. Jaffray’s recipe has some very specific directions so I’ll try to follow them exactly. I creamed 1/2 pound (1 cup) of butter and 1/2 pound (8 ounces) of sugar. Then I started added the 4 eggs one by one, stirring after each. Next it was 1/4 cup of molasses. I completely forgot to dissolve the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda or even add it at all! I kept thinking it was interesting there was no leavening. Now I realize I missed that direction but I did remember to add the 1/4 cup of brandy.

Once the more liquid ingredients were ready I weighed 1/2 pound (8 ounces) of flour and added 1 teaspoon mace, 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Then I mixed the spicy flour into the rest of the cake. Finally I weighed 1 pound currants, 1 pound raisins, 1/4 pound (4 ounces) citron, and 1/2 pound (8 ounces) of chopped figs and added it all to the cake. It was a challenging cake to mix since it was so heavy with dried fruit. Once it was well blended I spooned the mixture into three loaf pans and baked them at 325 F. for 45 minutes. I could probably have used just two pans but I was concerned about cooking the centres of such a dense mixture. Once they were out of the oven I let them cool a little and then cut my first slice at 11:45 pm. It’s been a long day but I was looking forward to tasting this cake especially since I made the baking soda mistake.

Mrs. Richard Jaffray is Mary Havel (Havill). She was born in 1848 somewhere in Ontario most likely Galt since she was living there for the census when she was four. Her mother was Maryann and her father James was a plasterer. By 1871 she’d married Richard Jaffray and they had a one year old daughter named Mary Gertrude. Richard was born in England but his heritage is Scottish and he was a printer in Galt. They eventually had two more daughters Kate Fleury and Minnie. Richard became the proprietor of a newspaper. They lived next door to Mary’s parents in 1891. Unlike many of the other contributors this family’s religious was the Church of England (Anglican) rather than Presbyterian. At 64 Richard died of kidney disease the year this cookbook was published. Mary and two of her daughters continued to share the house until Mary’s death in 1922 when she was 73.

Mrs. Jaffray’s Christmas Cake is probably an acquired taste but I liked it. It is more dense than Mrs. Jaffray intended since I forgot to add the baking soda but it is also nice and moist. Some day I’ll try the proper way but in the meantime this is a good fruitcake. It is buttery which make the top of the cake a bit crispy, including the fruit. I like it that way. The figs are probably the most challenging part of the cake but they add an interesting flavour as well as their seedy texture. Although the cake is sweet it seems to come more from the fruit than the sugar or molasses. The brandy flavour enhances the cake and I can imagine Mrs. Jaffray in the weeks before Christmas “feeding” her fruit cake by wrapping it in a brandy soaked cloth.

If you try Mrs. Jaffray’s Christmas Cake let me know how it turns out when soda is added and what you think of the taste. I think it can time travel into the hands of 21st century fruitcake lovers but each person seems to have their favourite kind of fruitcake.

CHRISTMAS CAKE
Mrs. Richard Jaffray

One pound butter, one pound sugar, one pound flour, two pounds currants, two pounds raisins, one-half pound citron, eight eggs, one-half cup molasses, one teaspoonful soda dissolved in the molasses, two teaspoonfuls each of nutmeg, mace and cinnamon, one half cup of brandy, one pound figs. Mix butter and sugar to a cream, then add eggs slowly, then the molasses and brandy, then flour, and last of all fruit.

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Day 355: Mince Meat

Last night I attended the Starry Night event at the Waterloo Region Museum and got to see the heritage village at night with lanterns and kerosene lamps going. I worked there many years ago and it was a good reminder of the world in which the women of the New Galt Cook Book were living. A world where the short daylight hours today were important for accomplishing everything needed for Christmas. So tonight I’m making a classic seasonal recipe from Pie section of The New Galt Cook Book (1898). It is Mrs. G. A. Graham‘s recipe for Mince Meat. This version doesn’t contain meat unlike the other two recipes. One uses tongue and the other simply states meat. All three recipes include suet.

This recipe makes a huge amount so I’m cutting it in half. I’d prefer to cut it further but after all my own Christmas activities I don’t have the brain power to cut it in third or quarters. I also don’t think I have a bowl big enough to hold and mix such a large recipe. I pulled out my largest mixing bowl and got to work.

Several brands of mince meat were advertised in The Canadian Grocer in 1898.

Several brands of mince meat were advertised in The Canadian Grocer in 1898.

The first task was cutting up the apples. I had a four pound bag of discounted Macintosh apples and I added another pound of Northern Spy apples so that I had 5 pounds of apples. (Doesn’t that sound like an arithmetic problem?) I didn’t bother to peel the apples. I cut them in quarters and removed the cores. Then I sliced them and chopped them further into small pieces. This task took the most time but it gave me time to think. I realized that all I could hear was the clock ticking and the crisp sound of the apples as I cut into them and the plop as they pieces landed in the bowl. I wonder if Mrs. Graham worked in a similar atmosphere?

One of the brands of prepared mince meat advertised in The Canadian Grocer magazine in December 1898.

One of the brands of prepared mince meat advertised in The Canadian Grocer magazine in December 1898.

I weighed my suet and discovered I needed almost two of the bags I buy in the frozen meat section of the grocery store to get 1 1/2 pounds of suet. It was time to start weighing the dried fruits and peel. I added 2 1/2 pounds of raisins, 2 1/2 pounds of currants, 2 pounds of lemon peel, and 1/2 pound (8 ounces) of citron peel. The next instruction had me a bit stumped “every kind of spice”. What sort of spices should I use? After spending almost a year with this cook book I have a sense of the most common spices used in the baking recipes so I started measuring. I added 1/2 tablespoon of each of the following: allspice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. I stirred everything together since I thought it would be easier while the ingredients were still dry.

This brand of mincemeat was advertised year round in the Canadian Grocer in 1898.

This brand of mincemeat was advertised year round in the Canadian Grocer in 1898.

Time to move on to liquids. I zested 3 lemons and then cut them using my lemon squeezer to get as much juice from them to add to the bowl. If you are using a type of apple that will discolour quickly you might want to add the lemon juice earlier. I poured in 1/2 a bottle of red wine since I didn’t manage to make any of the wine recipes in the cook book. The final ingredient was 1/4 cup of molasses. I took out a heavy spoon and worked to mix everything thoroughly. It was time to pack it into containers to store in the fridge. Mrs. Graham would have put the mincemeat in jars and stored them in a cold place ready to use in making all the mince pies or tarts needed over the Christmas season. Mince meat isn’t cooked ahead. Instead it is stored allowing the flavours to blend. Then it is spooned into pie shells and baked. That’s the moment the mince meat is cooked. I tasted a bit of the mince meat but the real test will be once it is cooked.

Mrs. G. A. Graham is Annie May Nichols. She was born in Toronto in 1859 to Martha (nee Tassie) and Simon Nichols. Annie married George A. Graham in June 1881 when she was twenty-two. The couple married in Toronto but George was a 29 year old bookkeeper in Hagersville at the time. Their only child Evalina was born in November and based on her birth record it looks like George is a bartender in a hotel in Hagersville. The informant for the certificate is John Lawson who is listed as a Hagersville Hotel Keeper.  By the 1891 census the family live in a hotel called the Imperial operated by George. The Imperial Hotel was a respectable hotel with comfortable rooms and a dining room with good food. The census lists a cook so I wonder how involve Annie is in the operation of the hotel. At the time of George’s death of stomach cancer in 1907 they lived in Dorchester near London Ontario. He was 54 and still a hotel keeper.  Since their daughter was newly married I wonder what Annie did next? Could she stay on at the hotel? Or was this a mistake? There is an Annie and George Graham in Toronto in the 1911 census and the ages are correct and this George is a hotel keeper! Annie dies in 1934 and is listed as a widow so George must have died at some point. Her death is recorded in Toronto where she’s been living at 194 Inglewood Drive.

The “raw” mincemeat is okay. The main taste is the fresh and juicy apples and the dried fruit. Cold suet is not a nice flavour or texture but I hope it will be amazing once cooked. I think it might need more spices but I’ll wait a few days until I use it to make a pie.

MINCE MEAT
Mrs. G. A. Graham

Ten pounds apples, three pounds suet, five pounds raisins, five pounds currants, four pounds lemon peel, one pound citron peel, one tablespoonful of each kind of spice, six lemons, juice and grated rind, one bottle homemade wine, also a half cup molasses.

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Day 354: Tripe and Onions

Two days ago I prepared a basic recipe for tripe so that I could make some of the other recipes in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) calling for tripe. Today I’m trying Tripe and Onions. No one is listed as contributor but I’m assuming that Miss Wardlaw contributed this recipe along with the one for preparing the basic tripe.

I peeled an onion and then boiled it in water. I changed the water after 10 minutes and again after another 10 minutes. Based on some of the recipes for boiled onions I’m assuming this not only makes a tender onion but changing the water will make it milder. Next I cut the onion in half and added enough milk to cover plus a bit of salt and pepper. I cut some of the prepared tripe into small squares and put them in with the onion. I boiled it so that everything was hot and added a bit of flour mixed with water to make a liquid.  Then I was ready to sample.

Apparently tripe and onions is a classic recipe so it is no wonder it appears in this cook book however, it isn’t anything I’ve ever experienced. And I don’t think I’d eat it willingly again. The texture of the boiled onions and the tripe are similar. I think it was the milk that I really didn’t like in this dish. I also just couldn’t get past the fact that I was eating a cow’s stomach. As I child I was a very picky eater, particularly when it came to anything from creatures. Although I can eat meat now I still find organ meats difficult. However, if you are adventurous then this might be a place to start.

TRIPE AND ONIONS

Boil the onions in three waters, when tender drain, cover with milk, add a little butter, salt and pepper cut the tripe in squares, put with the onions, boil for a few minutes, thicken with a little flour, and serve.

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Day 353: Fruit Cake

Among the Christmas essentials in 1890s Ontario, at least in the homes of those of British descent, was plum pudding which I made yesterday, and the sort of Fruit Cake I’m making today. There are several recipes to choose from in the 1898 New Galt Cook Book but I’ve selected one contributed by Mrs. John Scott.

Fruit Cake ingredients available from suppliers advertising in The Canadian Grocer 1898.

Fruit Cake ingredients available from suppliers advertising in The Canadian Grocer 1898.

This is quite a large amount of fruit cake so I’m cutting the recipe in half. I weighed the fruit first — 1 pound of raisins, 1 pound of currants, and 1/4 pound (4 ounces) of lemon peel. I weighed some almond pieces to get 1/4 pound (4 ounces) before adding it to the bowl. Today we can get these supplies in any grocery store or bulk food place although I find it hard to locate plain lemon peel. I stocked up a few weeks ago to make sure I had everything on hand just as homemakers (and their grocers) would in 1898. I added 3 cups of flour so that the fruit and nuts were well coated in flour. This helps prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the cake. I added the ground spices to this floury mixture. That was 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon of allspice.

A brand of peel advertised in The Canadian Grocer 1898.

A brand of peel advertised in The Canadian Grocer 1898.

Next, in another bowl, I creamed 3/4 pound of butter with 1 pound of dark brown sugar. I added 4 eggs and beat them into the creamed mixture. I added 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 1/4 cup of liquor. I chose to use whiskey since I still had the bottle handy from yesterday. I stirred the floury fruit and nut mixture with the creamy ingredients and then finally added the liquid. Once everything was mixed I spooned it into two greased cake pans and popped them into an oven preheated to 325 F. I baked them for 1 hour before testing to see if they were done. I let them rest and then turned them out to cool. I cut a slice to taste while it was still warm.

Mrs. John Scott is most likely Lydia Goodall. She was born in North Dumfries township in Waterloo County around 1836. Even after checking the Waterloo Region Generations website I don’t know anything about Lydia’s parents. She was already a 17-year-old wife and mother for the first census in 1851. Her 20-year-old husband John Scott was a butcher and they had a 1-year-old daughter named Sarah. The household seems to have also included John’s 22-year-old brother Gideon. The brothers were born in Scotland and appear to have emigrated on their own. Over the years the couple have more and more children listed in the census until it looks like they had eleven. There were nine at home in 1871 ranging from 18 to 3 years old and Lydia was only 36 years old herself. By this point they live in Galt and John is becoming more and more successful having branched out to dealing in cattle. An article in The Record a few years ago tells more about John Scott. Check it out here. Most of the children live to adulthood. Lydia dies in 1903.

Christmas Supplies in The Canadian Grocer 1898

Christmas Supplies in The Canadian Grocer 1898

Grocers stocked up early in the fall to prepare for all the baking to come in November and December. Fall issues of The Canadian Grocer in 1898 include ads for supplies like figs, dates, almonds, walnuts, peels, raisins, and currants and there are reports about their suppliers around the world. What would the crops be like for all these foods? Would there be a shortage of any essential ingredient? This was the time of year when the world came to Galt kitchens more than any other season and yet I suspect like us today the origin of the ingredients wasn’t considered. It was only when world events interfered with harvesting or shipments that ordinary people took notice. I think that’s why I enjoy reading The Canadian Grocer. It reveals the concerns of suppliers that are still relevant today. There are also articles about displaying goods at Christmas. My favourite is on December 9 and it describes all sorts of displays. One window had a mini Ferris wheel with Christmas goodies spilling from it. Another describes a simple but effective display of tubs of ingredients like sugar, raisins, currants and circled with bottles of flavouring extracts that could be achieved by most grocers.

Mrs. John Scott’s Fruit Cake is moist and buttery, far different from the dry peel-filled fruit cakes people imagine. There’s lots of fruit and it isn’t overspiced. The hint of whiskey flavour is a nice bonus. I still like light fruit cakes but this is a good medium type. I’ll try making one of the dark fruit cake recipes before the year is up.

FRUIT CAKE
Mrs. John Scott

Eight eggs, two pounds dark sugar, two pounds raisins, two pounds currants, one-half pound lemon peel, one-half pound almonds, one and a half pounds butter, two teaspoonfuls cinnamon, two cloves, two allspice, two teaspoonfuls soda dissolved in half a cupful of liquor and six cupfuls flour.

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Day 352: English Plum Pudding

We are only a week away from Christmas now so I need to get moving on some of these seasonal recipes in The New Galt Cook Book (1898). I really should have made a plum pudding on Stir up Sunday. That’s the last Sunday before Advent (the four Sundays preceding Christmas) but time got away from me. Instead I’m making Mrs. W. T. Smith‘s recipe for English Plum Pudding tonight.

Pudding Steamer from Regal.

Pudding Steamer from Regal.

This is a big recipe so I’m cutting the quantity in half to make it more manageable for my equipment (and budget). I put 2 cups of suet in a large bowl and added 2 cups of white granulated sugar and 2 cups of bread crumbs. Suet is the hard fat around the kidneys of animals like cattle. It is usually available in the frozen meat section of the grocery store. Next I put 2 cups of currants and 3 cups of raisins in another bowl and added 1 cup of flour. I loaned my scale to someone and so I couldn’t weigh the peel but checked and 4 ounces will be about a cup. Once the peel was in the bowl with the raisins, currants and flour I mixed them together and then added it all to the rest of the ingredients. I sprinkled 1 teaspoon of baking powder over it all. Next I used the bowl again to mix 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 a wine glass of whiskey and 4 eggs together before stirring them into the pudding mixture. The final step was the rest of the dry ingredients. I tend to over spice things so I was sparing and sprinkled in just 1 teaspoon of ginger and 1 teaspoon of mace. After adding 1 cup of flour I mixed everything together. I’d already used 1 cup of flour with the dried fruit. I put some of the mixture in my new pudding mold only to discover the mold didn’t fit my pot. I ended up setting up a sort of steamer system to cook the English Plum Pudding. It steamed for two hours before I removed it from the heat and opened my pudding steamer. It was time to taste.

Mrs. W. T. Smith is Joann (Annie or Anna) Henderson. She was born in 1834 to Scottish born parents Isabella and Thomas. She married William Thomas Smith and they had at least eight children by the 1871 census when they lived in Blenheim. William was listed as a school teacher if this is the right Smith family. Then in 1881 they are back in Galt and William is a merchant. By 1891 William is listed as a retired teacher and their son Thomas is a merchant (books and stationery). Although the census doesn’t show it W.T. Smith was also a professional photographer. Fortunately he took pictures of his own family and I’m hoping the descendent who posted them on ancestry will allow me to use them here.

The term “plum” in the title refers to the dried fruit in the pudding. At one time plum was a term applied to all dried fruits rather than just a specific fresh fruit from a tree. So when Little Jack Horner stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum in the old nursery rhyme he was likely pulling out some sort of dried fruit. I didn’t bother making a sauce. I wanted to taste the pudding on its own rather than covered by something else. This is a great plum pudding. It is moist without being soggy and it is delicious. The amount of dried fruit seems well-balanced to me. Sometimes plum puddings are almost entirely made up of fruit but this has a lighter feel to it. I recommend trying this if you want to enjoy Plum Pudding this Christmas, or any other time too. For some reason these days we only serve steamed puddings at this season and yet they are a good old-fashioned dessert anytime during the winter.

UPDATE: Just fixed the numbering. Also be sure to enjoy this pudding while it is warm. The suet makes it less palatable when it is cold.

 

ENGLISH PLUM PUDDING
Mrs. W. T. Smith

Nine eggs, four cupfuls suet, four cupfuls sugar, four cupfuls bread crumbs, four cupfuls currants, six cupfuls raisins, eight ounces peel, one wine glass whiskey, one small cupful milk, two teaspoonfuls baking powder, spices to suit taste, enough flour to make stiff, flour the fruit.

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