“But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone—too nervous to bear witnesses—to take the pudding up, and bring it in.
Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose—a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.
Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the 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.
Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that, now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.”
A Christmas Carol , Chapter 3
Except for this scene and several others in The Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist’s gruel and the old wedding cake in Great Expectations , food doesn’t play a huge part in the novels of Charles Dickens. Perhaps it was because he, as a writer, was more concerned with showing and exposing the dour poverty and the dirt of his time than the feasts and holiday foods of those who could afford them.
I am so glad Charles Dickens included this scene in his Christmas Carol though, as it shows the charming Victorian custom of making a plum pudding for the holidays!
Plum pudding is a uniquely English tradition and it has a rather fascinating history. The recipe (or something very near it!) dates back to almost the 14th century. Many English people still observe the custom of “Stir Up Sundays” when the ingredients are all assembled for the plum pudding and put together with great excitement and ceremony.
I was going to try my hand at making a plum pudding as there are so many wonderful recipes out there, but the list of ingredients, though delicious looking, is rather extensive and staggering. And some of the ingredients are not to my family’s taste! 🙂
However, as I was researching the English plum pudding, it started to remind me very much of the American fruitcake! And besides that, it also put me in mind of the once treasured tradition of making Election cakes to celebrate the election of a new President. Most of these cakes do fall into the same family of heavy fruit or spice cakes.
If you are interested in learning how to make your own plum pudding, here is an excellent video! Enjoy!