Great-Grandmother Reeve’s English Plum Pudding has been added to Mom’s Recipe Box.



Great-Grandmother Reeve’s English Plum Pudding


During the “Mom’s Recipe Box Family Series” that began seven months ago, in the process of looking for photos to accompany the recipes more was discovered. Well, it happened again.

A few days ago, while searching through my mother’s old photos for a picture to include with the series, came a wonderfully astonishing find – a journal of old family recipes penned more than one hundred years ago. It is handwritten in script by  Great-Grandmother Reeve, Gram Bennett’s (Bessie Reeve Bennett’s) mother, and my father’s maternal grandmother. I would imagine the journal was given to my father by Gram, which he in turn had my mother hold for safekeeping. She had kept it inside a lovely drawstring satchel.

The blank journal was apparently purchased at Hanford & Horton Booksellers and Stationers, 6 North Street in Middletown, New York that was about 9 miles from the location of the Bennett Hotel in Bloomingburg, N.Y., which was owned and operated by my father’s family. The opening page written in my great-grandmother’s script reads, “Cook Book  June 1905  Mrs. H.S. Reeve  New Vernon.”

Postcard of The Bennett Hotel in Upstate New York.

Postcard of The Bennett Hotel in Upstate New York.

Among the recipes was one for English Plum Pudding – a popular British holiday season dessert. We surmised it was handed down from generation to generation – having been brought over from England. What a glorious find!

I went online to do a bit of research about English Plum Pudding and learned that it is also called Christmas Pudding. It is said to taste best when it sets for a year. Yikes! Other recipes suggest a few weeks kept in a cool place.

As well, there are superstitions associated with the making of plum pudding – a recurring one says good luck is supposed to come to each person who stirs the pudding while it cooks. According to whychristmas?.com, placing a silver coin in the pudding “is said to bring luck to the person that finds it.” The site notes other items traditionally placed in plum pudding include a button which if found by a single man means another year of bachelorhood, a thimble which if found by a single woman means another year of being single, or a ring which if found by someone single indicates marriage in the coming year.

Although this journal was not discovered such that the recipe could be posted prior to Christmas 2014, I am pleased to have it to publish with the 7/2014-1/2015 family series portion of “Mom’s Recipe Box” which concludes next Friday with a special memoir for the anniversary of my mother’s January 12th birthday. – Jackie


Gram Bennett with Uncle Dick, Aunt June, Dad, Aunt Jay and Uncle Bob.

Gram Bennett (Bessie Reeve Bennett), with Uncle Dick, Aunt June, Dad, Aunt Jessie and Uncle Bob.



Great-Grandmother Reeve’s English Plum Pudding

INGREDIENTS & PREPARATION (the script for this recipe was difficult to decipher in spots so it is what I presumed it said.) 

Two lbs. of seeded raisins; 1 lb. of currants; 1 lb. of fresh beef suet, chopped fine; 1 cup sugar; 2 ounces each of orange and lemon peel, candied; the rind of one fresh lemon; two ounces each of bitter and sweet avocado, cut in pieces; three nutmeg, grated; a teaspoonful of ginger; pinch of salt, one lb. bread crumbs; three quarter of a lb. of flour.

Mix well together in a large bowl; Beat  3 eggs and add a glass of water and stir into pudding.

Wet a pudding bag in boiling water then flour, turn the pudding in it. Tie it securely and boil nine hours.

When done lift it out of kettle and put in cold water. Let cool, untie the string and turn out in a large dish.

Have ready four ounces of blanched almonds and stick over the top of pudding. Make a hole in the center with a spoon and pour in two glasses of French brandy and then pour one over it. Serve with sauce.

(Modern recipes call for plum pudding that has set in a cool place such as a refrigerator, to be steamed in hot water before serving.)


Plum Pudding Sauce (adaptation from online sources)

Two cups confectioner’s sugar combined with 1 egg yolk , a third cup heavy cream, softened butter and 3-4 tbsp. French Brandy.



Look for the conclusion of the Mom’s Recipe Box Family Series next Friday. It has been published weekly on Fridays since July 2014 as family members added to and celebrated my mother’s collection of recipes, the Cecelia G. Bennett Collection – JB