Dickensian Christmas: Recipes

Food is a major part of the our holiday traditions now and in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. We thought we’d get into the holiday spirit with some traditional food and drink featured in this classic story!

  A Christmas Carol , Season 39 | Photo by Samuel W. Flint

A Christmas Carol, Season 39 | Photo by Samuel W. Flint

Plum Pudding Recipe

1 cup finely chopped beef suet
2 cups fine bread crumbs
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 pint flour
1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup dried currants
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup citron, sliced thin
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
4 well-beaten eggs
1 tsp of baking soda dissolved in 1 tbsp warm water

Flour the fruit thoroughly.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, spices, and salt in the milk.

Stir in the fruit, nuts, bread crumbs, and suet. Then stir in the dissolved baking soda. Then add in the flour.

Boil or steam for 4 hours. 

To flame pudding, warm 1/4 cup of brandy. Make a small depression in the top of the pudding and pour brandy over it. Light with a match. 

 The Pudding!,  A Christmas Carol , Season 35

The Pudding!, A Christmas Carol, Season 35

Roasted Chestnuts

You will need about 1 pound of chestnuts.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut an X with a sharp knife on the flat side of each chestnut shell. Place chestnuts in single layer in large pan.

Roast uncovered 20 minutes or until shells begin to curl up at the X.

Peel chestnuts while they are warm.


Cider Wassail

2 quarts apple cider
1-1/2 cups orange juice
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
Dash ground cinnamon
Dash ground cloves

In a large saucepan, combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Discard cinnamon sticks. Serve hot in mugs.



Charles Dickens' Wassail (with a Punch) →

6 bottles of Guinness
1/5th of Brandy
Brown sugar to taste
Lemon Juice to taste
Crab Apples

Mix everything together except the crab apples.

Heat it but do not boil it (A crock pot works great!)

If you can find crab apples, heat some in the oven until they're sizzling hot, then drop them into the wassail.

Serve at a warm drinking temperature



Smoking Bishop

5 oranges
2 lemons
30 whole cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp mace
1 piece fresh ginger root (thumb-sized), peeled and cut into chunks
750 mL red wine (1 bottle)
1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste
750 mL ruby port (1 bottle)


Here are a few more links to some tasty holiday dishes inspired by A Christmas Carol:
A Dickens of a Dinner | The Food Channel
How to Feast Like Scrooge on Christmas Day | Food & Wine




Plum Pudding and Roasted Chestnuts recipe sourced here. Charles Dickens’ Wassail (with a Punch) found here. Cider Wassail here. Smoking Bishop is by Tori Avey.