Every year around this time, the air is fragrant with the delicious smells of cinnamon, chocolate, charred meat and freshly baked cakes. It’s a time when we sniff around the house taking in a lungful of aroma, a time when we find our appetites doubling and a time when we can’t wait to be at the dinner table. With this dumpster-fire of a year soiling our Christmas spirits and placing several conditions on the celebration, a good home-cooked meal seems to be our last resort. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a special pudding recipe fit for the festive season.
The recipe is “special” for several reasons. For starters, it is by the famous English novelist, journalist and critic George Orwell. Who would have thought that such a serious writer like Orwell, who wrote satirical social criticisms, protested against the totalitarian state and churned out novels like The Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four containing heavy dystopian traits and political allegories, had a MasterChef hidden inside him? It turns out Orwell was quite interested in the culinary world and went as far as defending the British cuisine for being uninventive.
In an unpublished 1945 essay called The British Cookery Orwell opened with a quote from Voltaire that mockingly stated that Britain is a land with “a hundred religions and only one sauce.” Orwell begged to differ when he wrote that it “was untrue” and “is equally untrue today”. However, being the critic he was, he also pointed out what exactly was wrong with the culinary world of Britain saying: “Cheap restaurants in Britain are almost invariably bad, while in expensive restaurants the cookery is almost always French, or imitation French.”
In the same essay, which predominantly surveys the British palate, Orwell provided a number of dessert recipes such as treacle tart, orange marmalade, plum cake ending with the Christmas pudding. Since it’s Christmas in two days you could try out this pudding recipe carefully put together by Orwell.
Find the recipe in full, below.
George Orwell Christmas Pudding Recipe:
- 1lb each of currants, sultanas & raisins
- 2 ounces sweet almonds
- 1 ounce sweet almonds
- 1 ounce bitter almonds
- 4 ounces mixed peel
- ½ lb brown sugar
- ½ lb flour
- ¼ lb breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoonful salt
- ½ teaspoonful grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoonful powdered cinnamon
- 6 ounces suet
- The rind and juice of 1 lemon
- 5 eggs
- A little milk
- 1/8 of a pint of brandy, or a little beer
“Wash the fruit. Chop the suet, shred and chop the peel, stone and chop the raisins, blanch and chop the almonds. Prepare the breadcrumbs. Sift the spices and salt into the flour.
“Mix all the dry ingredients into a basin. Heat the eggs, mix them with the lemon juice and the other liquids. Add to the dry ingredients and stir well. If the mixture is too stiff, add a little more milk. Allow the mixture to stand for a few hours in a covered basin.
“Then mix well again and place in well-greased basins of about eight inches diameter. Cover with rounds of greased paper. Then tie the tops of the basins over the floured cloths if the puddings are to be boiled, or with thick greased paper if they are to be steamed.
“Boil or steam for 5 or 6 hours. On the day when the pudding is to be eaten, re-heat it by steaming it for three hours. When serving, pour a large spoonful of warm brandy over it and set fire to it.”