December 19, 2002

Fruitcake FOTS

Presumably the doorstop fruitcake we know evolved from this.

The Christmas pudding of today was completely different at its origin. It started life as a 14th Century 'porridge' called frumenty. This combined the unlikely ingredients of boiled beef and mutton with fruits, wines and spices and was more like soup than a pudding. It tended to be eaten as a fasting dish in preparation for the Christmas festivities.

By 1595 it had evolved into the more recognisable dessert we know today. It was thickened using eggs and bread crumbs, more dried fruit was included and the addition of ale and spirits gave it much more flavour. It grew in popularity until, in 1664, the Puritans banned it as a 'lewd custom'. It was, mainly due to its rich ingredients, described as 'unfit for God-fearing people'.

It remained in obscurity until 1714 when George I, who developed a taste for plum pudding, re-established it as part of the Christmas feast. This was despite the fact that the Quakers objected, calling it 'the invention of the scarlet whore of Babylon'. Having survived this vilification, it had fully established its place on the Christmas menu by Victorian times. It was around this time that the tradition of placing a silver coin, a thimble or even a ring was established. Although most often depicted as a sphere - because of the original method of wrapping it in a damp muslin cloth before steaming - these days it is more usual to find it basin-shaped. Christmas Pudding is often set alight with a small amount of brandy, decorated with a sprig of holly and served with brandy butter, custard or cream... or all three! It may also be served cold or reheated by frying gently in a knob of butter.

If you want to try cooking this, go here.

Posted by Linkmeister at December 19, 2002 10:24 AM

They have little bitty Christmas puddings and little bitty matching jars of hard sauce at the grocery store. And they have little bitty mincemeat tarts, too. I'll be buying all three for the big sugar rush o' Christmas cheer. Hee.

Posted by: Jen at December 20, 2002 03:47 AM

Little bitty doorstops, more like.

Also, is it just me having trouble viewing your latest posts in Internet Explorer on both the Mac and the PC? The layout doesn't look great in Netscape, but at least I can see the posts. :-/

Posted by: shelley at December 20, 2002 06:51 AM