War-Time Cookery: Mixed Fruit Pudding Recipe from 1940

Over the summer, I happened to pop into a local museum on my lunch break; it was a wonderfully calm (and air conditioned!) way to spend an hour.

After having a look around the exhibits, I came across this little reproduction booklet of War-Time Cookery from 1940. Inside there are recipes for meat and veg dishes and cooking tips to reduce waste and maximise the nutrition of foods that were typically available under rationing. Some of the recipes in the booklet were interesting and some sound quite questionable by today’s tastes (tripe and liver hot pot anyone?!). Of course, as a baker, the recipes I found most interesting were the desserts!

wartime cookery

The one recipe that stood out the most was the mixed fruit pudding.  I love a steamed pudding – everything from jam sponge, spotted dick to Christmas pudding, so I thought this steamed suet, mixed fruit pudding would be a good place to start.

It was a very easy recipe to follow though I did struggle a little getting my head around the quantities and it was fun to use pounds and ounces measurements for the first time! The weirdest thing was just how much suet was needed in comparison with flour, but the result was very similar to a dumpling you would have with a casserole. I was worried that the pudding would be very stodgy as it was quite wet after steaming, but after leaving it for a short while it dried slightly as looked as it does in the below picture.

steamed fruit pudding

This pudding is perfect to have on a Sunday after a yummy lunch, with loads of custard. You will probably need a nap after as it is very filling!

If you would like to have a go at making this Second World War recipe yourself, here is the recipe:

1940’s Mixed Fruit Pudding

  • 1/2 lb breadcrumbs
  • 1 oz plain flour
  • 4 ozs vegetable suet
  • 2 ozs sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 6 ozs mixed dried fruit
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/4 pint of milk

Mix all ingredients and pour into a greased pudding basin (at least 1L capacity).

Wrap the basin, place in a large saucepan with a trivet (to prevent the pudding touching the bottom of the pan) and steam for two hours, making sure that the water stays at halfway up the basin and doesn’t completely evaporate.

Once cooled slightly, gently turn out the pudding onto a plate to cut into portions. Serve with lots of lovely custard or cream (unless you want to really stick to the rationing idea – then maybe not lots!) and enjoy.

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