December 20, 2011

Research, Cook Books, and Christmas Plum Pudding

Research can be many things: Fascinating, engaging, time-consuming, surprising, delightful. 

Even yummy.

If you’ve been reading The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels, you know Miss Hattie attends First Congregational Church in Cripple Creek. In Two Brides Too Many, the Sinclair sisters began attending the church. By the end of Too Rich for a Bride, Ida’s husband Tucker Raines served as the church’s new pastor.

As part of my research for a series, I like to visit museums in my setting. In those museums, I like to peruse any local books offered in the gift shop. The Cripple Creek District Museum is one of my favorite hangouts when I’m in town. Imagine my delight when I came across a red book titled:

Church History Cook Book
First Congregational Church
Cripple Creek, Colo.

The small, thin cook booklet actually lists the names and addresses of the cooks offering the recipe. But there’s more—the year(s) of the cook’s residence in Cripple Creek. The First Congregational Church of Cripple Creek existed for twenty years, spanning the late 1890’s, the time in which this series is set. And now I have a collection of recipes used by women in that time and place. One of the reasons I enjoy researching a time period and setting, its culture and its people.

Since it is December and Christmas is upon us, I thought it would be fun to share three Christmas Plum Pudding recipes from the First Congregational Church cookbook published by the Cripple Creek District Museum.

Christmas pudding is a pudding that was traditionally served on Christmas Day (December 25). It originated in medieval England, and was best know as plum pudding in our Victorian era. Many families had a recipe handed down generation to generation. The early English Christmas pudding was boiled in a pudding cloth, and often presented as a rounded mound of pudding. Victorian tradition involved putting the batter into a basin and steaming it.

Christmas Plum Pudding
One cup currants
1 cup suet, chopped fine
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup sugar
1 cup seeded raisins
1 cup sour milk
1 level teaspoon soda
½ cup candied citron, sliced
1 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt.

Roll fruit in flour and add flour enough to make a stiff batter. Steam or boil four hours. Serve with a sauce.

Mrs. Philbrick, 1899

Christmas Plum Pudding
3 cups bread crumbs
2 ½ cups suet
2 cups sugar
1 lb raisins
 3 cups currants
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmegs
1 teaspoon soda
3 cups buttermilk

Flour to thicken quite stiff. Boil four hours.

Dr. B. Murray, 1895

Christmas Plum Pudding
1 cup beef suit, chopped
2 cups bread crumbs
½ cup citron
1 cup English walnuts
1 cup seeded raisins
1 cup currants
1 pint of flour
4 eggs, well beaten
1 heaping cup sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 level teaspoon soda, dissolved in a little warm water

Mix fruit with some of the flour. Put eggs, sugar and salt into the milk and spices, add fruit bread crumbs and suet, then add soda and the rest of the flour. Mix thoroughly. Steam four hours.

Mrs. T. P. Connor, 1895

We’ll want a sauce to go with our pudding. Favorites include cream, hard sauce, brandy butter, and golden sauce. I’ll share Miss Ella’s recipe for the latter.

Golden Sauce
½ cup butter and 1 cup sugar beaten to a cream. Add 3 egg yolks beaten light, then add the bell beaten whites. Lemon extract to taste. Place in a double boiler, stir till it thickens. Serve hot.  

Miss Ella Hummer, 1894-1909

Merry Christmas! May your Christmas be bathed in the grace of Jesus’ gift to you in the manger.

 MONA HODGSON is the author of 32 books for adults and children. Her popular Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Books—Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride (WT); six Zonderkidz I Can Read books, Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional, and Bedtime in the Southwest. 

Check out for Mona’s Free Resources. 

You can follow Mona at and become a fan at, Mona Hodgson Author Page.


jtwebster books said...

What a wonderful find Mona. Thanks for sharing the recipes. I hope you and yours have a blessed Christmas.

Mona Hodgson said...

Hi JT!
Good to hear from you. Thanks for reading the article. Yes, it was an exciting find. A blessed Christmas to you and your too!

kimdtaylor said...

Great article Mona and perfect timing too. My husband just asked me to make plum pudding for Christmas.

Mona Hodgson said...

How fun, Kim! Thanks for reading the article. Glad you enjoyed it.